Ring the Alarm: Montreal soundsystems come fi mash it

Sounds uptown and down

Our seemingly endless winters limit the possibilities for stringing up “sounds” on street corners, but the sun shines every weekend somewhere in Montreal. Don Ignorance of the Triple AAA record store (6895A Victoria Ave.), who founded the Little Thunder crew 15 years ago with his brother Scroogie, believes that we’ve got probably around 100 active sounds here (Crystal, Love Zone, Uptown Soundz, Assassins, King Levi and Moonshine Ladies, to name merely a few). The Sean Paul-ification of the pop charts has a lot to do with it. “It’s got so big that they want it downtown, they want it in the east end. Everybody knows reggae music used to be played mostly uptown, but it’s all over the city right now because it’s in big demand.”

Win, lose or drama

Soundclashes — musical showdowns in which soundsystems compete for the all-important respect of dancehall patrons — don’t happen very often in Montreal, but according to Don Ignorance, “When we do, there’s always a big controversy after — who wins, who loses.”

Chatter by platter

It’s playing with the puzzle that creates the new from the old. “Reggae music talks to each other,” explains Fatta. “Say if you have a Sizzla plate and I can answer back with another artist, on the same riddim, and then whatever you say on the mike is also counteracting, it creates one big conversation.”

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