From Sleng Teng to Skankin in the Dancehall [Video Essay] Conference: 6th Global Reggae Conference Kingston Jamaica

Roy Wallace, Daniel Johnson

Research output: Non-Textual OutputDigital or Visual Media


From Sleng Teng to Skanking in the Dancehall a comparative analysis of UK and Jamaican reggae through the work of King Jammy and Daniel Johnson

In this presentation we will assess the impact of 2nd wave Jamaican reggae on the British sound system culture/music production through comparative analysis of the work of King Jammy (One Time Girlfriend) and contemporary re-mix version (Skanking in the Dancehall) by Daniel Johnson. By tracing this journey by means of a case study we intend to evidence the historical and ongoing relationship between Jamaican and British reggae in the mainstream UK music industry which consistently privileges indigenous Jamaican music production over promotion of authentic UK reggae artists.

We will argue that while Jamaican reggae is ‘visible’ on an International level, this ‘incorporation’ of reggae into mainstream popular culture, overshadows the authentic British reggae experiences. This privilege also suppresses the essential slavery narrative which is inherent in reggae and instead ‘whitewashes’ contemporary UK reggae voices through promotion of ‘culturally acceptable’ icons who negate British colonial history through the use of celebrity and association with national broadcast interests of the BBC in particular (Radio 1Xtra). The privileging of acceptable icons such as Rodigan, Seani B, Chris Goldfinger etc help de-politicize the Caribbean slavery experiences and instead re-package the authentic narrative of reggae within a post-modern consumerist culture.

This case study seeks to re-present the unique relationship between Jamaican reggae and its impact on British reggae from ‘Sleng Teng’ to Grime music, we will argue that previous reggae genres have been influenced by King Jammy, the 2nd Wave (electronic) reggae music production and help re-connect the importance of keeping the story of street authenticity alive and highlight the original reggae connections with the Caribbean to younger UK generation through Electronic Dance Music.

To compliment this presentation, we would also offer a ‘live’ joint performance of the original (One Time Girlfriend) and re-mix version (Skanking in the Dancehall) by both King Jammy and Daniel Johnson.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKinsgton, Jamaica
PublisherUniversity of the West Indies
Media of outputOnline
Size15m 03 s
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019
Event6th Global Reggae Conference: Reggae Inovation & Sound System Culture II - University of West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica
Duration: 13 Feb 201916 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

This research output has helped facilitate ongoing research and collaboration with key partners from the original event in Jamaica. The output has provided opportunities to form a partnership arrangement with Birmingham City University (UK), University of West Indies and to host the next Sound System Culture conference at University of Northampton 2020.

This project also taps into the recent International World Heritage recognition of reggae music and offers important alternative audio-visual narratives around key issues with underpin ongoing academic research in this field.


  • Reggae
  • Sound System Culture
  • Sleng Teng
  • Dance Hall
  • Jamaica
  • Rastafarian


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