DJ Soul One has kept dancehall music alive in Seattle for four years, functioning as both a promoter and a DJ. His small (but fiercely loyal) following visits him every Thursday at Nation for Wicked and Wild, an authentic, historically broad sampling of the best of dancehall, reggae and hiphop.
How did you get into dancehall music? "I went to graphic design college in New York and started going to these crazy parties in Brooklyn that opened my eyes. It was total culture shock, going to these dances and being the only white guy in the whole place, you know? I didn't know any of the dances; I'd just sit there and watch. I felt so out of place--but I knew it was something!"
What was it about the music itself that attracted you? "Part of it was because it was so underground; no one else was doing it--kind of like how hiphop used to be. It really just blew my mind, but very few of my friends were into it."
Was it your experiences at those parties that inspired you to start Wicked and Wild? "Yeah, I wanted to get back into all aspects of hiphop as a DJ, and the original form of hiphop is reggae and dancehall."
Do you have a good following? Has it changed since you moved from the Art Bar to Nation? "It's about the same; there's not a huge following for it over here."
Why do you think that is? "I think it's hard to understand. It's really difficult to understand the lyrics unless you study (Jamaican dialects) and stay up on the language changes--they always come up with new meanings for words in Jamaica."
So what would you say to someone who's curious about dancehall but turned off by those elements? "People shouldn't limit themselves musically--it may not be for everybody, but it's definitely worth checking out."