King Shiloh Sound System, based in Amsterdam, Holland, is an international, independently operating, roots reggae sound system, founded and inspired through the inspiration of Jah Rastafari. In addition and complimentary to the sound system, other activities include a recording studio & record label; King Shiloh Records, a weekly radio programme; Roots&Culture on Radio 100, an informative website; www.kingshiloh.com and the promotion of regular dance events in Amsterdam’s prestigious Paradiso club under the banner DubClubY2K.
The sound system phenomon began in Jamaica in the ‘fifties’ as a new style of entertainment, sound systems were then, and still are today, quite literally mobile discotheques. As the competition among systems in the early days increased, so the popularity grew, meaning systems endeavoured to become bigger and technically better to stay ahead of their rivals. This lead in its turn led to a rapid development of home-grown ska and rock steady which eventually manifested in full-blown reggae. Throughout reggae history sound systems have served to establish important producers, sound engineers and many vocal artists alike.
Today however, the word sound system has become synonimous with other sub-cultures far akin from reggae. It stands out tall and proud on posters all over Europe, tagged onto the end of different dj names, a strange thought to those who still maintain the true time honoured tradition of sound system. Those who have pride and invest all their time, energy and financial resources in getting the show on the road, at all costs. King Shiloh is from the old-school tradition, trusting in personalised equipment, often self-made, created specifically to play a specific music through (and at loud volume); reggae music, the heartbeat music.
Like in the original days of sound system King Shiloh has a large crew; Bredda Neil, operator of the sound, selector of the music, Ras Lion, the MC; master of ceremonies, Lyrical Benjie, DJ; singer and chanter, President Kirky, DJ; singer and chanter, Billyman, sound technician & truck driver, Iyah One, studio engineer & sound technician, and Danny Red, the promotion manager & sound technician. It has its own four-way high power sound system including all source equipment and amplification, flexible in design in order to be able to accomodate any size venue from 100 to 700 people. It also has its own recording studio where much of the exclusive music played on the ‘set’ is produced and where future releases are being recorded
The first release on King Shiloh Records was released on Haile Sellassie’s birthday, the 23rd of July 1997; a double A side 12 inch disco single featuring the then unknown Ras Ibi on the two vocal tracks; “Trod On” & “Battle of Adowa.” Dub tracks from and mixed by the talented Majestic Warriors in Koln, Germany . The project marked a cooperation of talented Rasta brothers from all over Europe & as far as the USA and served as a bench mark in the progress of Shiloh internationally. The full pressing of 500 copies were sold out within a few months of release without the assistence of any distribution companies, and has since become a collectors item. The second release of 1999, also a double A side 12 inch featurson one side the first release from Amsterdam born singer Lyrical Benjie, called “My Dream”, and on the flipside “Babylon A Wonder” from Ras Matthew I, the Buffalo Soldier out of Texas, USA. After top sounds in the UK like Aba-Shanti & Jah Shaka played the dub plates until they couldn’t play anymore, the press of 1000 copies was finished in no time. The first King Shiloh CD was released in the summer of ’99 , a special dub compilation for the popular Timemachine organisation (part of a 3 CD package) featuring previously unreleased and exclusive tracks from like-minded brothers in the business.
At present King Shiloh are busy in their 24 track studio with three LP projects; including debut albums from Lyrical Benjie (Healing of The Nations) and Bagga T (The Teacher) and an Amsterdam Roots Explosion Compilation featuring local artists. Other productions in cooperation with the Disciples from the UK are also nearing completion and are due for release during the summer of 2001. Singles from Tenastelin, Ras Iyah and former Black Kush singer Winston McAnuff are also in the pipeline.
Since 1990 King Shiloh have been spreading the latest and greatest roots reggae through the airwaves, two hours of Saturday night prime-time listening on Radio 100 FM in Amsterdam. The programme has provided, and continues to provide, an up-to-date reflection on the current Jamaican, UK, USA and rest of the world reggae scenes, focusing on new pre-releases, golden oldies, upcoming LP’s and important information necessary to keep people fully informed. Listening to the programme is possible anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection; check the Radio pages at www.kingshiloh.com. For five years the radio programme was supported by the only reggae magazine in the Netherlands “Roots&Culture Reasonings” also written and produced by the King Shiloh organisation, however since the advent of the digital motorway this activity has been suspended.
On the internet the official King Shiloh website is the new site, www.kingshiloh.com which will provide important information from the middle of March this year. Full events listings, the Shiloh profile, catalogue of releases, releases for sale via the net, Rastawear clothing, a direct link to the radio programme and upcoming DubClubY2K info will be covered.
The DubClubY2K was launched at the end of the last century as a so called ‘upfront dance event’ in Amsterdams famous Paradiso club. Bringing reggae and sound system out of the clichZ underground venues and into the limelight has proved a successful undertaking; the first session featuring Jah Shaka Sound System, although on a cold, wet Monday night pulled 450 people, the 2nd Chapter featuring Aba-Shanti Sound System (also on a cold, wet Sunday) netted 500 visitors, the 3rd editon featuring The Disciples and Word Sound Power Sound System was given a Saturday night resulting in 750 punters, likewise the 4th Chapter featuring Solomonic Roots and Iration Steppas Sound System. The essence of DubClubY2K is sound system, uncut, unrestricted and raw. Strictly top UK formations bring their own mighty systems to Paradiso and play just like in London, real sound system- from the foundations right to the very top.
Sound System is an unmissable reggae tradition, as important today as it ever was and maintained by a select few who live and breath it, who feel it precious enough to see it prosper in the future. King Shiloh, keeping roots sound system alive, kicking and full of positive energy, guided and protected by Jah Rastafari, first and foremost.