Reggea in Antwerp - part 1
The rain was pouring out of the sky and there was no sun to be seen, still we managed to find that sunny reggae vibe in a little reggae bar, Izzy Maze in Antwerp when we interviewed the guys from High Grade Sound and Johnny Den Artiest.
“Finally the herbs come around,
The high grade when me a look for,
Me get it by the pound, yeah, “
Collie Buddz already sang it and he’s coming to music center Trix in Antwerp the 20th of February, so we had to do it! We went looking for the High Grade Sound and since we both love to booty bounce, we were the right people for the job! Lucky ladies that we are, we got 2 rather well-known names for the price of one! Both High Grade Sound and Johnny Den Artiest were happy to talk to us about what it’s like to stand at the birth of an entire music scene in a town like Antwerp.
High Grade Sound & Johnny Den Artiest
High Grade Sound provides us with mixes of the swinging beats of many renowned reggae- and dancehall artists. Their choice in music is quite upbeat and it’s nearly impossible not to move to what comes out of those turntables. And if you listen to their set carefully, you might come to find that some of the big artists have even done some stuff for or with them. We won’t drop any names but trust us when we say: they’re GOOD!! So you better check it out for yourself.
Johnny Den Artiest is a different story. He too once started his path in the scene as an MC for another well-known Antwerp Dancehall collective: Civalizee Foundation. The passion to put his own words out there grew into a flirty, laid-back and generally happy King Johnny. A man in unique trainers and the obligatory bling around his neck, singing in our own language, even our own dialect. Even if you don’t speak Dutch, you’ll be able to catch the vibe and go along with the flow.
Antwerp: reggae scene
Fifteen years ago they used to be the crazy party animals who wanted to contribute the reggae scene in our city, now they are the cool dads who teach their kids how to use the turntables. But whatever task their daily existence might require right now, they still love to play extremely danceable sounds. Of course a lot has changed in fifteen years and this is the first question we asked the reggae icons.According to these guys, the reggae scene used the be a lot smaller back in ‘99, which resulted in the same crowd at every party. It kind of gave a family feel to the scene, which they enjoyed very much. However, when the scene grew, the parties also grew which gave them more opportunities to play at big gigs such as Reggea Geel, Summerjam ,Sfinks, Feest in het Park, Laundry Day, and so on.
Another plus side is the growing presence of the female spectators. Hard to imagine that now, but back in the day, the reggae scene was almost entirely composed out of men! Not that anyone used to mind that but I guess it’s always nicer to see a girls’ booty bounce then a guys’. As for us ladies: how can you not love shaking what your mama gave ya’ amongst a bunch of men with a definite feeling for that sexy Caribbean rhythm.
Antwerp: reggae capital
When asked why they still reside in A-town, the question was easily answered. Antwerp is still and will always be one of the reggae capitals in Europe. Furthermore, they always lived here, they always played at parties here and they will always love our city.
When they’re not busy performing or throwing their own parties, they like to get a drink at Izzy Maze where you're always treated like a good friend when you walk through the door.
So if you happen to be in Antwerp and you have an ache for an evening of sultry beats and a chance to pull out your hottest hip moves, make sure to check either High Grade’s or King Johnny’s calendar. We can guarantee you’ll leave their parties with a smile on your face.
Text by Joke Tourné and Cleo Klapholz from the Antwerp hashtag queens
Pictures by Johnny Den Artiest, High Grade Sound, Pedro de Cleen and Wow Kreate Photography.