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Jah Shaka Has Died
Christian Eede , April 12th, 2023 20:24

The dub and reggae pioneer was pivotal to the growth of sound system culture in the UK

Jah Shaka has died, close friends and collaborators have revealed via a series of social media tributes.

The dub and reggae pioneer's exact age and cause of death have not been disclosed. Writing on Facebook today (April 12), Jamaican artist Dennis Alcapone said: "Just getting some sad news that the great Jah Shaka has passed away. The Zulu warrior left us. Very sad indeed. More to come on that. May his soul forever rest in perfect peace."

Shaka's date of birth and real name remained unknown through his career, though he was born in Clarendon Parish, a part of Jamaica that produced a number of leading dub and reggae artists. He moved to the UK in the '50s while he was still a child as part of the Windrush generation, settling in South London and going on to form a partnership with local sound system Freddie Cloudburst.

He started his own sound system shortly after, which grew to become one of the dub and reggae scene's most respected. His system specialised in showcasing exclusive dubplates and had a heavy influence on the growth of the UK's dub scene, formed around acts such as The Disciples and Jah Warrior. He and the system made an appearance in the 1980 film Babylon.

Shaka continued to tour right up to his death, with regular appearances at festivals and club events. He had been due to play at We Out Here festival, as well as London club E1, in the coming months.

Writing on Twitter, Kevin Martin, AKA The Bug, said: "So sad to read Jah Shaka has departed this planet. Rest in peace. A heroic figure who kept dub alive, when few cared. I spent many all-nighters being transfixed by his passion and selections."

Sharing a picture of himself with Shaka and Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Mad Professor wrote: "It's a sad day today, as we say farewell to my friend Knocky, the Zulu warrior, Jah Shaka. Shaka played a huge part in the establishing of AriwA. In the very early days, he would book the studio weekly, and shared building in Peckham, with Jah Shaka Music operating from the HQ."