Kingston12 Programming Notes

Kingston12 Digital Radio is a 24/7 reggae music channel
(It is available at and on TuneIn/Simple Radio Apps)
Special Programs
Weekly New Releases – Fridays (9:00 PM – 12:00 AM)
Every Friday night on Kingston12: Conscious Reggae Party host Sydney White introduces listeners to the latest reggae releases from countries around the world where reggae music is produced. Artists from Jamaica, Hawaii, Germany, New Zealand and Great Britain are regulars in the playlists. We introduce new music from new artists and the new stuff from the veterans. Remember, if it’s Friday – you will always discover something new and really special at

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Friday Night Dancehall Session (12:00 AM – 4:00 AM)
This is an opportunity for multi-DJs to show-off their mixing skills in classic Dancehall mixing. We keep clean, we keep it cultural.
King Viper Sound Presents: Live Dancehall Session – Saturdays (10:00 PM to 4:00 AM)
King Viper Sound System

Tune in to King Viper Sound – the US east coast #1 reggae and dancehall Sound System – heard live on digital radio at every Saturday night form 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM. DJ Lulu, Kevin, the Fluffy Diva and the crew take you into the real world of Jamaican Dancehall.
During this six-hour session, listeners get to enjoy dancehall music in its purest form. The play-list may range from the early nineteen sixties music to releases from the Friday prior to the air date.
The King Viper Reggae Gospel Trane – Sunday (3:00 PM to 7:00 PM)
Every Sunday Fada Lulu and the King Viper crew journey deep into the Jamaican countryside to take you “live” into the Jamaican church. The blend and mix of reggae gospel with other Caribbean and African-based religious songs are presented in a way that transport you mentally to a real Jamaican church on a Sunday night.

Kingston12 HIFI: Carrying the Sound System Legacy into the Future

Kingston 12 represents the postal or zip code in West-Central Kingston, Jamaica that, along with adjacent areas of Trench Town (Kingston 13) and the south-central part of the city, was the axis of the cultural renaissance that gave the world Reggae music. It is the home of the Ambassador Theater – the place that was the flagship for presenting new talent to Jamaica and the world. The Ambassador (Bass), alongside the Majestic, Palace, and Ward theatres, provided the stages for the Vere John’s Hour. This was the talent show that introduced the country and subsequently the world to artists like Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Bob Marley, Don Drummond, Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, Peter Tosh, Millie Small, Hortense Ellis, Bob Andy, Jackie Edwards, and many more of the stars that became the icons of the Reggae music industry. Kingston 12 was the “Harlem” of the Caribbean – an area that attracted artists such as Jackie Opel and Lord Creator who came all the way from Barbados and Trinidad, respectively.
These artists in late 1950s to early 1960s became the foundation of Jamaica’s Sound System Culture. As early as 1950, Tom Wong, a Jamaican of Chinese ancestry established “Tom the Great Sabastian” in East-Central Kingston. His sound system launched the career of the great Count Matchuki who later joined Clement Dodd’s Sir Coxsone Downbeat. Tom’s main rival at the time was Cyril Braithwaite’s “Count C – the Wizard of the West.” Count C dominated the western end of the city. These two sound systems laid the groundwork for the sound system culture which quickly followed Jamaican migration to England and the United States, and later provided the base for the spread of Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae worldwide.

Sound System Speakers

The sound system culture quickly spread amongst the poorer classes of Kingston and adjacent parish – St Andrew. Several new players entered the arena. The pioneers among them were Clement Dodd (Sir Coxsone’s Downbeat), Author “Duke” Reid (Duke Reid the Trojan), Vincent Edward’s (King Edward-the Giant) and Cecil “Prince Buster” Campbell’s (Prince Buster –the Voice of the People). That was around the same time Jamaican journalist, Vere John, started a weekly one-hour talent show, which he named after himself. It was a live performance showcase of fresh, young Jamaican talent. The audio of the show was recorded for a later weekly broadcast on the country’s single radio station: RJR (for Radio Jamaica & Radio Fusion)
From the beginning, there was intense competition among the sound system operators. They competed for crowds, music, and eminence in the local community. Thus, the Vere John’s talent exposition provided an opportunity to identify new talent that could enhance that competition. Few recording studios existed at the time. However, the sound system operators came to the show with the specific intent of identifying new talent that they could use to record exclusive Jamaican versions of American R & B and Jump Blues songs, or sometimes original materials that they played exclusively on their sound systems. These sound systems provided a reasonable alternative for the poorer sector of the population who wanted entertainment but could not afford to hire the live bands that existed at the time, such as Byron Lee and the Dragoneers, Kes Chin and the Souvenirs, and the Percy Myers Combo for their parties.
Leroy Sibbles – One of Kingston 12’s International Reggae Artists

This competition among the sound systems not only laid the groundwork for today’s dancehall “selector culture,” but was also the foundation upon which the entire Jamaican music industry is built. The art of toasting on records flourished during this period. This consisted of rhyming vocal patterns over instrumentals that later evolved into social commentary; it also became an important part of the entertainment. Over the years this legacy has provided roots upon which multiple Jamaican musical genres emerged – from Jamaican Jump Blues, Ska, Rock Steady to today’s Reggae and Dancehall.
Today, many young selectors and sound system operators have embraced the opportunities presented by new technologies to create modern Dancehall – substituting computer-assisted beats and instrument simulation for real instruments and live musicians. This is usually supported by computer-generated playlists via programs like Serato and Virtual DJ – replacing turntables. However, one sound system that has figured out how to master the new technology and new trends without discarding the foundation is Los Angeles, CA-based Kingston12 Hi-Fi.
This sound system is under the direction of the super talented, master DJ, rapper, singer, songwriter, musician, and Reggae/Hip Hop artist Edmund Carl Aiken, Jr. – Shinehead (Jamaican In New York fame). His partner in life and music – Diana Camacho aka DJ Papalotl aka Buttahfly – makes up the other half of the Kingston 12 Hi-Fi team who is charting the path by showing fans how to navigate both lanes without choosing one at the expense of the other.
The sound system is named after the historic LA Reggae club venue Kingston12 which was founded by Richard O’Brian, aka King Richard, a Jamaican expatriate in Los Angeles, California who operated it as part of a restaurant /nightclub establishment. He, along with his family, ran the venue they named after the community in Jamaica that they hailed from, which of course guaranteed the authenticity of the music given Kingston12’s aforementioned musical history.
The Kingston12 enterprise was also the first of its kind on the US West Coast. Richard and his family established a place where for more than twenty years Los Angeles residents and visitors were treated to live reggae performances, and/or club DJ’s playing Reggae, Dancehall, and Hip Hop music, while having an authentic Jamaican meal or mellow island drinks.

Shinehead, a British born Jamaican who was already well established in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Europe, and Japan, met King Richard shortly after he moved to Los Angeles. King Richard became ill shortly thereafter and passed away in the summer of 2014. Shortly after meeting King Richard, Shinehead quickly discovered that they both shared a musical camaraderie. He even played records on a small portable turntable for Richard as laid sick in his hospital room towards the end of his life. Although Shinehead and DJ Papalotl were away in NY performing at the time of his passing, Richard told his family that he needed someone who was committed to the music and culture to carry on the tradition he had established on the US west coast. As such, Richard’s last dying request was that his vast collection of Reggae/Dancehall vinyl records would be bequeathed to Shinehead.
King Richard

His wide knowledge of Roots, Reggae, modern and traditional Dancehall, plus his extensive experience in Hip Hop, R&B, and US rap music positioned him as the ideal candidate not only to carry on the vision of King Richard, but also to expand the foundation instituted by early forerunners Count C, Tom Wong, Clement Dodd and others – a Kingston12 legacy.
Shinehead a former major label (Elektra Records) artist inserted his brand into the Kingston12 Hi-FI concept, and in the four years since 2014, the sound system has become an integral part of world music festivals such as Rototom, Outlook, Reggae Geel, Reggae Sun Ska, and reggae music cruises – including Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock Cruise.
The addition of DJ Papalotl aka Buttahfly to the Kingston12 team allows them to perform at the highest level. DJ Papalotl (a public school teacher) is a multi-media artist, a sound engineer, and a videographer with a passion and skill for mixing music. One might say she brings her “magic fingers” to Kingston12 Hi-Fi.
Her life as a DJ began at college parties and at her college radio station – KSPC 88.7 FM. Here, she developed her mixing skills in Reggae and Dancehall music. She progressed to become the “mix mistress” of the college parties and later graduated to local nightclubs –introducing them to her brand of Roots, Reggae and Dancehall, Hip Hop and R&B. Her extensive technical skills, combined with both her and Shinehead’s knowledge of Roots and modern music, has directed Kingston12‘s path to be able to perform on any stage.
Shinehead & DJ Papalotl aka Buttahfly

Long before Facebook Live was popular among users, Shinehead and DJ Papalotl made it part of their mission to use modern technology to elevate the sound system and Dancehall culture to a higher level. Their weekly presence on Los Angeles based – – a collective of local DJ using the digital space to take their music worldwide, together with live programs twice a week on Irish and Chin’s SoundChat Radio have served to expand their worldwide audience, and build an airwave audience with their English partners, Unique Radio UK in London and Stingdem Radio in Birmingham.
Their weekly live Friday night broadcast on Kingston 12 Digital Radio ( gave sound system culture a presence on two of the major Digital Radio Apps for both Android and Apple products –TuneIn Radio and Simple Radio. In addition, Kingston12 Hi-Fi has also placed the sound system/dancehall culture as part of the audio programming lineup on most new V-Tuner stamped high end stereo system such as Denon, Bose and Yamaha; and on Wifi enabled radio products from manufacturers such as Grace, Sangean and Pico.
In addition to exposing the music and cultures that have provided the foundation for Reggae as an established musical genre, Kingston12 Hi-Fi has continued a sound system tradition that is not often mentioned when dancehall and sound systems are discussed. That is – identifying and launching new talents via the BUTTAHFLY FX show. Much like their forerunners Sir Coxsone, Prince Buster and more recently, Sugar Minott’s Youthman Promotion, Kingston12 Hi-Fi continues to introduce the world to new talent and give established talent a platform to show the world what they have.
In the past year, listeners were introduced to young Hip Hop talent like Banga Brownin, J Niles (the Yung Ruler – son of the late Gregory Isaacs) and were re-introduced to General Smiley of Michigan & Smiley fame. Their careful selection of the music they play, together with interviews with artists and industry practitioners like music teachers from the world famous Alpha Boys School in Jamaica have lent a public media sensibility to their presentation of dancehall and sound system culture.
In the radio business these days we often say that appointment radio is dead. However, in their presentation for a live audience and/or for digital radio, Shinehead and DJ Papalotl are making sure that this does not apply to the sound system. Audience come out to see them live or tune in to their Digital broadcast because they know they will be rewarded with great music, magic mixes and most importantly, they will learn something about the music, the culture and artists.
Kingston12 Hi-Fi continues to live up to its true name – a sound system with the usual customized built set of double scoops and tops that are almost 40,000 Watts of power. Shinehead and DJ Papalotl often take out their four sets of scoops and tops for a variety of events. These events that take place all over Los Angeles, mostly in the different cultural enclaves that appreciate international music and culture. These include the Silverlake and Leimert Park downtown Los Angeles, and at venues in adjacent Culver City. Each event is usually promoted in Social Media with a theme with the hashtag (#SoundFiSound) as part of the movement to incorporate a physical sound system with relevant cultural events and affairs that promotes public service issues such as breast cancer awareness, Jamaican cultural events; and presenting local and visiting DJ’s and artists.

Top 10 Reggae Albums for 2016

Jamaica Music Festivals: Struggling for Viability?

The Jamaica Jazz & Blues (JJB) music festival which is normally schedule for January (the last full weekend prior to the US Super Bowl) was cancelled for 2016. Not only was the cancelation regrettable, but the late announcement of the cancellation (11/16/2015) was most unfortunate, because many of the customers who are mostly repeat attendees had already planned their vacation around the festival.
While the attendance for the festival does not appear to be growing in size, there is a group of “faithfully committed” who make this an annual get-a-way. They book hotels up to a year in advance, because as one young man from New Jersey, US told me – “they care far less about the performances and more about the vibe “of meeting up with their friends.
According to the organizers, they are “taking a year off to re-group and focus on planning a spectacular 20th anniversary celebration” in 2017. They further noted that because they realize how much the audience always look forward to this event, “they really tried to make 2016 a reality, however, things just did not work out”. “Therefore, instead of trying to push and stage a festival that would not be of the usual standard, they decided to cancel the event”. As of this writing, there is still no word from the organizers regarding a date for 2017.
However, those of us who have attended at least twelve of the eighteen staging of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival (formerly Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues) have been expecting this for some time. Personally, similarly to the young man from New Jersey referenced earlier, it has been many years since I have attended a music festival in Jamaica simply for the music. This dates back to the final few years of Sunsplash and the early years of Sumfest. Back then, I could truly say they I enjoyed the music and performances at a Jamaica music festival. I can remember stopping my rent-a-car outside the Sumfest venue on a Sunday morning – on my way to the airport, just to get a ‘little bit more” of Dennis Brown. These days we attend “just for the vibes”.
Recently we had another announcement – Sumfest, the country’s premiere music festival announced that it was facing major financial challenges and as a result, was being sold to California businessman (now making Jamaica his home) Joe Bagdanovich – the current president of Jamaica-based, Down Sound Records. Immediately, the new owner move to reduce the three-day festival to two days and eliminated all international acts – which had been an integral part of the festival since its inception.
Sumfest which celebrated its 24th year this year, like most new business ventures, operated at a loss during its early years. However, it was believed to have settled in to produce handsome profits during the next ten years. Then over the last five years it began to struggle. During these struggling years a marked difference in the composition of the audience was quite noticeable. Also, quite obvious during these later years was the fact that attendees were beginning to pick individual nights to attend. Local-based Jamaicans seem to most favor dancehall night, while both overseas-based Jamaicans and non-Jamaicans seem to prefer the international nights. Thus, in spite of the fact that the vides in the city of Montego Bay seem festive for five  or six days, most people only attended one or at most two nights of the festival.
The hotel rooms were mostly occupied by foreign-based Jamaicans and a few non-Jamaican guests, as most home-based attendees drove back to their homes after the concert. In reality, in the case of both Reggae Sumfest and Jamaica Jazz and Blues, a small group of entrepreneurs have been doing the “heavy lifting” with very little benefit to show.
The post analysis after the recently concluded two-day Reggae Sumfest was “satisfactory”. According to an interview with the Jamaica Observer (7/26), Deputy Chairman Robert Russell noted that “they were not only happy with the two major live performance nights, but all the events leading up had surpassed their expectations”.
He added that “Dancehall Night was just great, with strong performances, no problems whatsoever in the park… no expletives on stage, it was just spectacular”. The attendance was estimated at plus/minus 15,000. He continued “Saturday, the crowd was not as strong as Friday, this was expected. But this didn’t have an effect on the performances which were great”.
Viewers around the world had the opportunity to watch part of the live event (including simultaneous backstage interviews) via cutting edge panoramic 360-degree video technology. The attempt was commendable. However, the streaming service was not up to the challenge as the 360 technology apparently requires far greater bandwidth that the amount allotted.
While one has to simply commend Russell and the new owners for their effort, the realty is – we have two music festivals that are both vital to the Jamaica’s tourist and music industries and even more crucial to any attempt to develop the country as an event destination – that are struggling to stay viable. The question now is: Where do we go from here? The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture recently announced initial plans to make Jamaica a “music festival destination”. Included in this initial strategy are plans to add new festivals in alternate destinations in the island.
This effort was launched with the Jamaica’s first Ska/Rocksteady festival (titled The One World Ska and Rocksteady Music Festival) in Kingston in November 2016. According to the Minister of Culture “we want to position Kingston as a cultural destination… one which has given the world four distinct genres of popular music — Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, and Dancehall”. The Minister further noted -”this festival further aims to bring world focus to Kingston and benefit the people of Kingston”. “Music tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of this market. It is estimated that 10 million people travel worldwide for music festivals. If we can get 0.3 per cent of this market to come to the One World Ska and Rocksteady Music Festival, we would be doing well”.
I truly believe that while this effort is well intended, this is like adding new rooms to a hotel that has been showing 50% vacancy for a very long time. In addition to revenue for the tourist industry and Jamaica indirectly, music festivals presents great opportunities for visitors to engage directly with the Jamaican people. Therefore I encourage both the Tourism and Culture Ministries to work together to save the festivals that have already established brand identity.
Both festivals need assistance in the areas of long-term strategic focus and short-term grants/investment. I am proposing that representatives of the two ministries, representatives of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and directors of both festivals come up with a five year strategy for each festival.  This will allow for thorough examination of costs and alternatives, discussion of areas and assignment of responsibilities, set expectations, examination of investment models/options, review of best festival management practices and a look at potential partners (domestic and international). Such strategic focus will allow for reasonable projections, open windows into availability of new technologies that can expand the benefits and set real expectations for return on investment for all parties. The TEF could provide two-year advance funding commitments over a four year period. The first two years in the form of a grant with stringent requirements that must be met by the producers, and the second two years in the form of a low interest loan to be fully repaid within three years after the end of the four-year funding cycle.
This team should come away with both investment guidelines and timelines, and be prepared to publish a definitive model that other annual Jamaican music festivals may utilize. Such a model must be guided by the concept “we are all in this together” and most important, a pledge to get festival attendees to come to Jamaica once again for the music, performances and culture, in addition to the “Good Vibes”.
One of the odd things about modern music festivals today is that initial success is not always measured in attendance figures and gate receipts. At many of the large music festivals such as the I-Heart, the I-Tunes and South by South West music festivals, levels of engagement have become an essential measure in the success formula. However, at the end of the day, in a challenged economy like Jamaica’s, music festival should not expect government assistance for periods beyond five years without showing viability