Major Lazer’s Jillionaire has long cited dancehall legend/BBC radio DJ David Rodigan as a personal hero and gatekeeper to the culture. Now, ahead of the paperback release of Rodigan’s biography, My Life in Reggae, out April 24, the Trinidadian artist explains why it’s a must-read.
Rodigan has a masterful approach to music and storytelling. I think that’s why he has so many fans across the world — he can play to a seasoned reggae-dancehall crowd, and to 18 and 19-year-olds [who] want to rave their heads off. He does an excellent job of not only chronicling the evolution of Jamaican music, and Jamaican music in the U.K., but also tying [in] his own cultural evolution, from being in high school to changing careers and getting on the radio.
He’s widely revered and respected as gatekeeper of the culture, which is a very unique position to be in, given the fact that he is neither Jamaican nor black. What made a lot of sense was when he talked about going into acting school [and learning] about phonetics and projecting onstage. Those are reflected in his radio persona and his onstage performance.
He raised the bar in terms of soundsystem culture, and paved the way for groups like Major Lazer. He made an old reggae and dancehall and soundsystem culture culturally acceptable from the outside, [and contextualized] something that may not [be understood] if presented in its raw form.
As told to Lyndsey Havens.