Ras Kush sticks to orthodox selection

Rating: NNNNN JAMAICAN SELF-HELP DUBB SESSIONS featuring RAS KUSH with DAVID JUDAH at Holy Joe's (651 Queen West), Friday (August 2)..


Rating: NNNNN


JAMAICAN SELF-HELP DUBB SESSIONS featuring RAS KUSH with DAVID JUDAH at Holy Joe’s (651 Queen West), Friday (August 2). $5. 416-631-3960.

In amongst all the hedonistic Carnival revelry this weekend, Black Redemption Sound System selector Ras Kush intends to offer a few hours of deep natty roots consciousness.

A fixture at Manhattan reggae emporium Jammyland, the Haitian-born, Brooklyn-based Ras Kush uses his comprehensive knowledge of Jamaican music to load up his popular Satta Sundays sets with soulful old-school rocksteady favourites, classic pre-digital dub and contemporary dancehall burners.

So while you’re probably just as likely to hear him drop a booming Jah Shaka dub as an obscure Little Roy track at the fundraiser for Jamaican Self-Help (www.jshcanada.org) at Holy Joe’s Friday (August 2), don’t count on any Spragga Benz-type of slackness. Ras Kush maintains a strict “no pussy” policy.

“Other DJs might want to play gun songs or vagina songs — that’s their prerogative,” says Ras Kush from behind the counter during the late shift at Jammyland.

“Some people dig that stuff, but it’s not for me. I try to play music with a positive message — something uplifting — more than what’s popular.”

Ras Kush started spinning at parties while still in high school, but it was a chance meeting with Skatalites saxophonist Roland Alphonso, while Ras was hustling for Bullwackies, that led him back to the roots. Alphonso, who’d set himself up as a record dealer after taking up residence in New York, had exactly what the young DJ was looking for.

“Roland Alphonso lived over in Queens. He had all the roots sounds on the original labels. If you were after some record that he didn’t have, he knew how to get it.

“Growing up, I used to go to the 12 Tribes of Israel meetings and hear all the pure-minded roots music of the 70s. I’ve always preferred the orthodox selection — you know, Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, Sugar Minott. Music with a message.

“I like the sufferers stuff, but it’s the militant things, like Barry Brown’s Step It Up, that are my real love.”TIM PERLICH

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