Dub London: Bassline of the city

Dub music is expression of the African spirit, freedom and rhythm, passed on through generations

By Museum of London

Words: Sister Sheeba / Image: Eddie Otchere

Photograph of dub london record shop exhibit and personal story by Mykaell Riley/MOLMuseum of London

Come with us on a journey to explore the socio political relationship between Dub and London. This music breaking out of Jamaica’s ghettos collided with London’s Black youth of the 1970’s eager to embrace their roots. 

Sistah Sheebah and Sistah Stella at BBC R6 Festival by Museum of LondonMuseum of London

Sistah Sheebah audio introduction

Sistah Sheebah & Sistah Stella

In ‘70s London youngsters whose parents and grandparents come to rebuild the motherland embraced Black music. Dub music in London at that time created a socially cohesive oneness amongst youths, youth who felt excluded from the mainstream society.

Documenting dub

Why it is vital we preserve the story of this vital part of British culture. 

"It's not just somebody going out to buy records and playing it... it's more of a cultural thing for us."

Shashamane i 1979, Sister Rasheda

 Ras Muffet mix (2011)

Mad Professor: "In a dub version, anything could happen..."

(Film: Thomas Greader/ Museum of London)

Mad Professor live at Cross Club

Video made by 113kw

Channel One Soundsystem speaker stack at Notting Hill Carnival by Eddie Otchere / Museum of LondonMuseum of London

Channel One Soundsystem, Notting Hill

Images by photographer Eddie Otchere help to tell the story of Dub's influence on the capital.  

Channel One Soundsystem turntable at Notting Hill Carnival by Eddie Otchere / Museum of LondonMuseum of London

Turntables at Notting Hill

Run by Mikey Dread, Jah T and Ras Kayleb, Channel One has been a keystone of the Carnival since 1983 where it is located on the corner of Leamington Road Villas and Westbourne Park Road. 

Slingshot in Shepherds Bush (2014) from Inna London Dub by T

Jake Travis and Gil Cang's label dub set in the grand tradition.  Mixed by Gil and Deemus appealing to the, new dub crowd and has a flavour of the old school classics 

Dub flyers wallpaper by Mark 'Ringo' Gocher by Mark 'Ringo' GocherMuseum of London

Mark 'Ringo' Gocher flyers - Brixton Recreation Centre, 1990

As we walk Brixton the bassline reaches us, penetrates cold rain. Rhythm becomes clear, manifests. Solid. Heavy.  Turn through arches, Recreation Centre in sight. Above the pounding bass the metallic scream of window frames rattling harshly to the beat. 

Map of dub record stores in London by Josh Daniels / Museum of LondonMuseum of London

Roy Marshall interview

Roy Marshall, People's Sound Records

Josh Daniels' illustration of independent reggae record shops across London

Supertone Records by Museum of LondonMuseum of London

Supertone Records

Brixton’s Supertone Records reflects the history of reggae in owners Wally B own life story. Opening in 1984 Supertone has strong links with its community and specialises in reggae, ska, rocksteady and dub.


Papa Face behind the decks by Museum of LondonMuseum of London

Papa Face Dub Vendor interview

Papa Face, Dub Vendor Record Store

The flagship Dub Vendor Record store opened in Clapham Junction in 1982 with Papa Face and Phillip ‘Godfather’ Wilks controlling the counter. 

Image: Papa Face from Dub Vendor Records (© Museum of London)

Assorted record shelves by Museum of LondonMuseum of London

Nigel House Rough Trade interview

Rough Trade - Nigel House interview

Rough Trade (west) is an independent record label and record shop now owned and managed by Nigel House.  It was originally opened by Geoff Travis in 1976 in Ladbroke Grove.

Dub mind map and sub genres by Museum of LondonMuseum of London

Dub mind map

With many contributors, the mind map shows how dub was influenced by many music genres and in turn the impact dub has played on the music scene and its influence on new and emerging music styles.  

Photograph of dub london record shop exhibit and personal story by Mykaell Riley/MOLMuseum of London

Want more dub history?

Visit the Museum of London website 

Image: Mykaell Riley/Museum of London

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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