Best Reggae Toaster


The art of reggae toasting precedes the subgenre of dancehall by several decades. Where once, conscious-minded artists like U-Roy and Big Youth cooled down rude-boy tempers with cultural utterances about Rastafari and revolutionary urgings over dread riddims, nowadays, popular stars like Sean Paul and Elephant Man have made careers out of booty-shaking lyrics set to slickly produced tracks. We’ll give an honorable mention to up-and-coming dancehall artist Young Fyah, but maximum respect must go to Rocker-T, a throwback to an earlier era when roots reggae was the order of the day and Jah was to be praised at every opportunity. The founder of all-Bay champion sound system Jah Warrior Shelter (who, it must be said, run tings inna dancehall in case yuh dun kno’), Rocker-T grew up in New York, where he received his tutelage from none other than the legendary Nicodemus and was the lead vocalist for Skadanks, a progressive ska/reggae/funk band briefly signed to Elektra Records in the ’90s. Since relocating to the West Coast, he has settled in Oakland and put out several solo albums on the Positive Sound Massive label that blend classic toasting skills with conscious lyrics about ganja, love, and (of course) Jah Rastafari. Rocker-T frequently performs alongside his brethren KRS-One whenever the Blastmaster plays the bay and co-hosts the popular “Smoke & Rock” club night at Luka’s, where he dips into his record crates for vintage tunes and blesses the mic whenever the spirit moves him.

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