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Tamils love Dancehall


For as long as I can remember Eelam Tamils have had an obsession with Jamaican culture.

The two islands have some synergy that is difficult to explain, from the clothes they wear and their hairstyles to the music. I pin it down to immigration, whereby Tamils in the late 80s & early 90s settled in areas of London with large Caribbean communities. Croydon, East Ham, Tooting, and Walthamstow all saw these communities coming together.

Tamils, who were 'too dark' to fit in with the Desi kids, began associating with the Caribbean and taking on so much of their culture.

I remember being in my early teens and Tamil elders on the ends rocking up in their BMWs, string vests, and blaring out Bounty Killer, Beenie Man & Mavado from their cars' customized soundsystems. From there on, I became obsessed with the music.

I started collecting Dancehall 45s and, soon after getting into Grime, recognized the closeness of 'Versions' to Grime instrumentals. Not only in their sonics but also their role within the genre.

Versions are the instrumentals found on the flip side of most dancehall singles.

Dancehall versions came with its instantly recognizable bassline, unique percussion, and the odd synth stab - all of which you can hear in early Grime music. It was also used as a DJ tool for MCs to toast over, where a single riddim version would be blessed by countless icons, just as you would find in Grime.

Recently, in Berlin, I heard a DJ play an entire version set, and it had me thinking of all the wicked riddims I have in my collections. Here are a few favorites from my library!

Dancehall to the world and back!

✍️: @_goldtooth_

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