Sound selector jDeBECK's lifelong love for music began over 40 years ago. Inspired by his parents' eclectic taste in 50s and 60s funk and rock and roll, from Ray Charles, Jim Croce, and Joe Cocker, the Beatles and Elvis, his introduction to the genre known as Lovers Rock, was sparked by the film "The Harder They Come" and its critically acclaimed soundtrack, both which were a driving force in popularizing reggae music and Jamaican culture in the United States and the world.
To celebrate the launch of our Spring 2023 Collection, Planes tapped jDeBECK to curate a mix that acts as a sonic companion to the Lovers Rock inspired styles and talked his journey, the spirit of the genre and music as a love language.
How did you get started in music?
I have been collecting records (mostly Jamaican music) for over 35 years now. I was born & raised in the Long Beach, California. My parents always had music playing in the house with a vinyl stereo system growing up and the car stereo was always locked on the 50s/60s oldies station.
What drew you to reggae initially, specifically the world of Lovers Rock?
"The Harder They Come" movie & soundtrack and Rockers opened my ears to reggae and from there I sought out the sound on local public radio that had a few weekly reggae shows. It was at Culture Beat (later Kulcha Beat), a record shop in downtown Long Beach, where my real reggae education began. It was real a hub for all events and artists passing through the LA area.
There’s a synergy between the playlist and our Lovers Rock inspired Spring 2023 collection. How did the inspiration for the mix reflect back to the collection?
The Lovers Rock theme, vibe and sound continues to evolve and progress. The "Lovers Rock" collection gives a nod to the foundation and style of the time with a modern touch. Based on the offering, I similarly curated a selection that travels throughout the timeline of Jamaican music including rocksteady classics, reggae covers, and more contemporary artists that have been greatly influenced by the Lovers Rock sound, whose theme is rooted in love and heartbreak.
As a tribute to the most common format of Jamaican music, the 7" 45, the playlist contains 45 tracks of some of my favorite artists including Dennis Brown, Sugar Minott, Delroy Wilson, Tarrus Riley, Beres Hammond Bitty Mclean mixed with recent releases by up & coming American artists that have been well received by Jamaican collectors such as The Frightnrs, The Far East and veterans Lee Fields and Sharon Jones, sprinkled with current soul & oldies such as Jackie Mendez & Joey Quinones.
Deadly Dragon Sound’s “Downtown Top Ranking” party was extremely popular. Where else are you DJing and any plans to revive this event series?
I joined forces with Deadly Dragon Sound in the early 2000s, DJing and holding events throughout NYC. We initially held our Downtown Top Ranking event as a monthly before making it a weekly. We focused on the foundation of Jamaican music, strictly vinyl, from Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, Roots, Lovers Rock, 80s & 90s dancehall to the present.We've hosted several veteran artists including Johnny Osbourne, Wayne Smith, Ranking Joe, Carl Meeks, Screechy Dan, Red Fox, Shinehead, Sleepy Wonder and sounds such as Downbeat the Ruler, Tippatone, Mighty Crown, Earth Ruler, Massive B, Pete Rock, DJ MURO. We have held residencies at APT, Kingsize, Pianos, Happy Ending, The Delancey and Left Field.
One thing about music, especially Jamaican music - it's a constant learning process. The learning process and relationship is symbiotic as I've learned from my customers, fellow sounds, DJs, and artists greatly. I find great joy in playing music and sharing my knowledge with others.
What are you currently working on?
I curated the walls for a new Japanese restaurant & bar Ichibantei in the East Village with 1000+ reggae 12" sleeves and LPs. I plan to bring back our Downtown Top Ranking monthly here this summer. I also do a monthly at La Noxe and can be often found guesting at the Raw Like Sushi Monday party at Studio 151. The shop opened early 2002 and continues online at DeadlyDragonSound.com
Listen to Greatness Radio Vol.1 "For Lovers Only" curated by jDeBECK (Deadly Dragon Sound) exclusively on TIDAL and shop the Spring 2023 Delivery 1 Collection.
Photos by Robert Serrette