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Riddim Driven: Dancehall Pics in NYC

Killer dancehall and reggae photographic exhibition at Eyejammie Gallery in NYC:

    “Riddim Driven: A 25th Birthday Salute to VP Records and Dancehall Reggae” will open at the Eyejammie Fine Arts Gallery, 516 W.25th Street, on Friday, September 10, 2004 from 6 to 9pm. The group show will use photography to tell the story of VP Records, the Queens-based label which is to dancehall reggae what Def Jam has been to hiphop — and this year is celebrating its 25th year of operations in America.

    In fact, the show reaches back to the island nation of Jamaica in the late Fifties, which is where and when Vincent “Randy” Chin and his wife Pat (respectively the “V” and “P” in VP Records) first entered the record business as the proprietors of Randy’s Records. The show then proceeds to follow the Chins from Kingston, Jamaica to Jamaica, Queens – and Jamaican music from Jamaica to America.

    In effect, the VP artists and associates whose photos will line the walls of Eyejammie comprise an unofficial Jamaican Music Hall of Fame. Specifically, the show will boast portraits of Sean Paul, Elephant Man, Beenie Man, Yellowman, Ninjaman, Shabba Ranks, Cutty Ranks, Lady Saw, Augustus Pablo, Tiger, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Bobby Konders, Coxsone Dodd, Gregory Isaacs, Bounty Killer, Wayne Wonder, Buju Banton, and many others.

    There will also be a generous selection of photos of the culture’s dancers, producers, mobile deejays, dancehall systems, recording studios, concerts, and parades — not to mention a super-cool snap of Vincent Chin and Fats Domino at Randy’s Records, circa 1960. In sum, the show will boaast more than 65 images.

    The photographers whose work will be exhibited include Tim Barrow, Adrian Boot, Paul Coote, David Corio, Brian Jahn, Beth Lesser, Ajamu Myrie, Peter Dean Rickards, Rahav Segev, Jean-Bernard Sohiez, Tom Terrell, and Wayne Tippets.

    “Riddim Driven” has been curated by gallery owner Bill Adler and music producer/reggae aficionado Kether Gallu-Badat. The show opens to the public on Saturday, September 11 and will close on November 1.

    But the September 10 reception for the “Riddim Driven” photo show is
    only the first part of an evening that promises to be a serious jump off in a true Jamaican dancehall style. VP Records has also arranged for an “after-reception” to take place downstairs from the Eyejammie Gallery at SIR Studios. The star of that show will be the one-and-only Lady Saw, performing live in celebration of “Strip Tease,” her new VP CD. The evening will also see the launch of the VP’s Riddim Driven Clothing Line and the publication of the “Dancehall 2004” issue of The Beat magazine.

I am personally more inclined toward melody-based reggae, but there is a lot of great dancehall as well – especially when singers and toasters work together. Sounds like a fascinating and historic show – again, the sorrows of living in Cleveland – enjoy the show New Yorkers.

The gallery itself is interesting as well – I was unaware that there is a hip-hop oriented fine arts gallery, but why wouldn’t there be?

    The Eyejammie Fine Arts Gallery was founded in March of 2003 on the conviction that the time was ripe for a gallery devoted to hip-hop imagery. Hip-hop culture is now 30 years old. It’s bigger and more influential than ever before. It’s also popular all over the world. That combination of depth, reach, and ongoing vitality sustains eyejammie.

    Hip-Hop’s ceaseless production of lavish and eyepopping imagery has always been a large part of its appeal. Indeed, the culture’s great stars – so vivid, passionate, and original — are a photographer’s dream. There’s hardly ever been a photo of Flavor Flav, Snoop Dogg or Queen Latifah that wasn’t iconic. Eyejammie will demonstrate that hip-hop heads feel about these photos the way that baby boomers feel about flicks of Mick Jagger or Aretha Franklin, and how even older folks feel about portraits of Armstrong, Ellington, and Miles Davis.

    The gallery is also on a mission to demonstrate to people who aren’t hip-hop heads but who do care about art photography that the purely aesthetic qualities of many of these images is world-class.

    Indeed, there are any number of talented young artists working in media other than photography who are deeply hip-hop-influenced. As time goes on, Eyejammie may well become a showcase for their work as well.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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