Big Up Tempo Sound – hosts of Sound System Fridays last Friday night on ReggaeMania.com. The crew showed up on time (a first in a while) and were ready to represent. In the house was Soujie (original owner of Tempo alongside Shabba Ranks), DJ Redout (MC/DJ), Ivan – (a visiting DJ/Promoter from the Slovakia Reggae Scene), special guest DJ passing through – Bigga Boss (Sniper Sound) and artiste – Jah Leon. This crew was excited! They were well prepared and presented an interesting journey back in time – they dropped dubs that hadn’t been touched in a long time, not to mention, a custom ‘Ron Nelson’ dub – Big Up Tempo!
Tempo Sound goes back to the late 70s, the King Tubby/Ska days when Sounds owned their own audio systems. Back in the day, Sounds that played out had to rent trucks, hire staff and set up their gear before even thinking about dropping their first chune on the turntables. Before Tempo set up shop in Canada, according to Soujie, only a small handful of Sound systems existed in Canada – Kenyata, Black Zodiac, Upsetta and Stereograph to name a few.
Some of you may or may not be satisfied with their choice of chunes, but, this is a non-issue this night. Tempo avoided playing 45s and cruised through their set without breaking a sweat playing exclusive dubs and specials (Michael Prophet, Colonel Campbell, Big Youth, Dirtsman, Delroy Wilson, Nico Demus, Hammermouth, etc.) backed by ‘short but sweet’ speeches and topped off with a solid live artiste performance anchored by a great interview.
Tempo revisited the late 80s and early 90s of Dancehall – although plagued with violence, it was musically more ripe for the picking. Few would argue that some of the best music ever put out was released during this era. It was also during this era that Toronto was put on the map – some of our best selectors today, including Fire Kid Steenie (who still reigns strong to this day) come out of that time period. Most people in the Dancehall Scene don’t know this, but, Steenie’s ‘initiation’ into the business was through Tempo Sound, not Super Fresh. Tempo Sound was the first to bus’ ‘im!
Soujie is an interesting cat – very skilled when it comes to discovering talent and being a mentor. Although Soujie is older now, he is young at heart and his spirit is free. Now that he has relaunched Tempo Sound, he wants people to recognise them as a “war” Sound. Says Soujie, “Original, a deh so we come from, we a bring back di bad boy Sound. Mi guh a nuff dance and people a play di same ting everyday…but, we nah guh inna di play play ting – di joke ting”.
Tempo still has some work to do before they rise again. One thing I’ll comment on is the quality of their dubs – the audio quality is poor. This is most likely caused from transferring old scratchy dub plates to MP3s and not accounting for additional adjustment. Nowadays, a Sound must keep up-to-date dubs in their box in order to be relevant in the dancehall – infact, a combination of old and new chunes is where it’s at – this, combined with skill, execution and speech is how you win in the ‘clash’ arena. Tempo did score on the artiste front – a talented youth from Scarborough that goes by the name Jah Leon. I have no doubts, I think you’ll enjoy this artiste. Again, it just reinforces the fact that Toronto and surrounding areas are churning out some very talented Reggae artistes. Big Up yourself Jah Leon – you’ve got what it takes to make it!
On a final note, I would like to apologise to Tempo Sound and to our loyal Sound System Fridays supporters for our site going down shortly after the start of this show. This was an unexpected surprise. What had happened was that our hosting company shut us down (without notice), claiming that the traffic on our site had ‘spiked’ causing some interference with their ‘other’ clients sites. This was news to us, we hadn’t done anything different before, during or after this show. Fortunately, many of our viewers knew how to find us on Ustream and TuneIn. To ensure this doesn’t happen again, ReggaeMania.com will be moving to a dedicated server. Enjoy the Podcast – it’s slightly distored at times – if you’re looking for better quality audio, check the Ustream link!