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Miles Ahead in Reggae: Sample The Spirit of Jamaica
Label Feature

Miles Ahead in Reggae: Sample The Spirit of Jamaica

Before becoming the world’s largest independent reggae label, the story of reggae label VP Records runs from the island of Jamaica to the borough in New York: Jamaica, Queens. Their music on Tracklib includes reggae by big names like the legendary Dennis Brown, Beres Hammond, and dancehall icon Busy Signal. Get introduced to VP Records with a free download of Jah Shaka's 'Lion of Judah.'

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VP Records started out in 1958 as Randy’s Record Mart, a store in downtown Kingston, Jamaica. Founded by Vincent and Patricia Chin (the namesake initials of VP Records), the storefront eventually evolved into a prolific hotbed for original recordings when their new shop turned into a recording studio (Studio 17). Big names in reggae, ranging from Bob Marley to Lee Perry and Peter Tosh, recorded music there, and VP Records produced several early ska and rocksteady songs.

The story of VP Records was fueled by historical times for the island of Jamaica: after being a British colony for nearly a millennium, Jamaica became an independent nation in 1962. “As proud Jamaicans moved abroad and wanted to hear the new sounds from home, the export market for Jamaican records blossomed,” as stated in the article VP History. In the 1970s, VP Records also moved abroad during a period of political unrest, bringing their music from Kingston, Jamaica to Jamaica, Queens, New York City.

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"Music is inspiration so we are sure [producers] will find creative ways to implement our sounds in their new sound!"

—Lori Cromwell (VP Records)

“Essential listening is Dennis Brown because he is the crown prince of Reggae. Beres Hammond because he is the Godfather of Lover’s Rock. And Busy Signal because he is a Dancehall Icon,” shares Lori Cromwell, Manager Music Licensing & Creative Sync for VP Records when asked about recommendations on where to start in their extensive catalog. Their discography ranges from rocksteady to ska, and from golden-era reggae to the 80s which saw a new wave of reggae: dancehall. With artists such as Yellowman, Johnny Osbourne & Michigan & Smiley, VP Records helped shape the sound of dancehall early on. Again involved with a new trend in reggae, as hinted in the label’s tagline: Miles Ahead in Reggae.

"The slogan means that we are aware of trends and we have immersed ourselves in all-things Reggae,” says Cromwell. “We are immersed in the music, the culture, and the happenings. Many times what we hear on the radio or on a streaming platform is years after we initially heard it in the dance-hall!”

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Today, VP Records still strives to stay ahead of the curve. This time not through the sound systems in dance-halls, but through streaming and digital. Cromwell: “As more artists from Jamaica are discovered, their preferences and playlists will be discovered on platforms such as Spotify. Younger generation artists will undoubtedly have some VP Records titles on their playlists and that is one way producers will find us. Music is inspiration so we are sure [producers] will find creative ways to implement our sounds in their new sound!”

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