Reggae Rajahs are India’s first reggae sound system. A trio composed of Diggy Dang, Mr. Herbalist and DJ MoCity, who Iraq’s first soundboy as well. A lot of things to talk about and a great chance for me to step into a new offbeat world.
MoCity, you told me that you are Iraq’s first soundboy. Reggae and Iraq, sounds unbelievable to me.
Wherever there is oppression or poverty or struggle, there is always a need to get your voice heard whether its thru music or otherwise. Although I haven’t lived there in a while, I have been flying flag for Iraq as a reggae promoter. Hopefully one day I go back and spread the message.
In 2009 you and two friends founded the Reggae Rajahs, India’s first sound system.
It all started at a Bob Marley tribute gig in New Delhi on the eve of the legend’s birthday; February 5th 2009. DJ MoCity and DJ Bellyas from Housewive’s Choice (Melbourne, Australia) were selectors for the evening. Diggy Dang and Mr. Herbalist were present and it was their first reggae experience in India after coming back to their hometown from college.
Reggae Rajahs Crew (c) PLATFORM
The rest is history, we collectively decided to start a community and a sound system to help promote reggae music in India. Our first gig together as a sound sytem took place on Thursday April 2nd 2009 at The Living Room Café, New Delhi
What’s your sound system like? Do you have a real system with amps, speaker boxes etc or a collection of records and mp3, only?
We are slowly but surely establishing our soundsystem, we currently have 6 channel mixer, turntables, and digital controllers. As we keep performing, we would save enough for our own basic sound system, until then we have been hiring our sound from vendors. We are also working on our collection of records 12inches, 45s and acetate dubplates.
Reggae is all over the world. How did it came to India and why did it take so long?
India has always been dominated by mainstream Bollywood music, rock and pop. The first wave of reggae influence was by Apache Indian, who mixed Bhangra music with ragga and dancehall and pioneering a genre called Bhangramuffin.
Mr Herbalist and Mykal Rose
This music was quite commerically viable at the time, and although it did the hit Indian shores it didn’t last too long as not too many artists or deejays emerged after that. We felt that gap, and decided to fill it and promote in an authentic way.
Would you please describe the Indian reggae scene.
The scene its infancy at the moment. But there are now emergence of many sound systems around India, like Dakta Dub (Monkey Soundsystem) in Hyderabad, Low Rhyderz in Goa, BassFoundation in Delhi which includes Indian raggamuffin vocalist Delhi Sultanate.
There is also India’s first ska / rocksteady band The Ska Vengers, where Diggy Dang handles guitar duties and Delhi Sultanate takes care of vocals We continuously host artists, selectas, sound systems that are travelling thru India.
Do you have any reggae record stores in New Dehli?
No stores in Delhi unfortunately, on a rare occasion you might find something at record stores in Old Delhi. But we order them online or ask someone to bring them across.
Since the Reggae Rajahs foundation in 2009 you have been to Peru, Panama and New York City.
Reggae Rajahs member Mr. Herbalist constantly travels all over the globe and flies the flag in every city. Representing our crew and making links with other crews.
In summer 2011 you won the first Indian soundclash against BASSFoundation.
It was one of the most exciting times, the tensions were high, the hype was epic and we played out a packed house. Someone said there was no room to even step on the floor. Also cutting and playing those dubplates also required a lot of thought and attention on our end.
Massive at first Indian soundclash
Gimmi a lighter / Reggae Rajahs
There is a Reggae Rajahs dubplate by Delhi Sultanate named „Indian Gunjah Man“. The intro goes like: „If Israel come inna Helicopter, MoCity shoot out di rocket launcher.“ Sounds like you are Muslim. How religious and political are the Reggae Rajahs?
We are neither political nor religious, we dont intend to tap into that sphere of insititutionism. We are strictly about music and life. Although Delhi Sultanate lyrics are political, and in this case it was a social reference at the time to the Israli helicopter attacks on Turkish ships that were supplying food and medicine to Palestenian camps.
How important is Rastafari to the Indian reggae scene?
Rastafari culture has been very much influenced by Indian culture. We have had „sadhus“ for many centuries growing their dreadlocks, smoking charas and living in forests to meditate and chant.
You have invited the Berlin based iLLBiLLY HiTEC and Longfingah, lately. They told me that in some Indian clubs it’s forbidden to dance. How would you describe the general vibe at your weekly Simmer Down session?
In Bangalore, there have been issues with clubs not having appropriate licences to host dances. In this case there are places in Bangalore where dancing is prohibited or they face fines. Every where else this is not the case. We host dances to packed audiences, where people can go buck wild.
Reggae Rajahs in session (c) FlashMe Photography
Our Simmer Down sessions are focused on roots reggae, rocksteady, ska and lovers rock rather then more uptempo dancehall or ragga. There is more of chilled vibe at these dances.
Reggae Rajahs on tour
If you are in India around December 2011 or January 2012 check out Reggae Rajahs on tour with special guests: Mungo’s HiFi & Soom T as well as Mr. Williamz from UK; Steppa Styles & Pull It Up Sounds from Russia. Reggae in India is on the rise and if you like to be up to date, follow Reggae Rajahs on Twitter, Facebook and their website.