Reggae in Japan: The Rock A Shocka Story

The German House of Reggae blog posted an interview back in February with Massa of Drum N Bass Records/ Rock-A-Shocka. It’s in English too so that means we can read it. Below are a few choices bits from the interview which you can read in full HERE if you missed it then. It’s an interesting read for sure.

I started Drum & Bass Records around the end of 1980. It was a time when Tiger and DJs like that were really popular. At that time there were very few reggae record shops in Japan and there wasn’t a single shop which sold original 60s and 70s vinyl like Prince Buster, Studio One or Channel One. A friend of mine went to Jamaica to buy those kinds of records. Until then we had only really been able to buy them from auctions in the UK. So my friend went to Jamaica and came back with records he bought there.

I saw the film Rockers before I went, but that film was made in the 70s. Well, I suppose the streets and the clothes people wore were kind of like in the film, but the music was completely different. I thought everything would be easy going and irie, but when I went there people were always trying to get money from me and I realised it must be a pretty tough place to live.

I don’t remember the first record I bought. I have bought so many over the years. The first Rock A Shacka signing was with Prince Buster for the live album he did with the Determinations when he came over to Japan. That was the first signing I did. Then because I had done that signing Universal wanted to release the CD and that was the moment I decided to start the Rock A Shacka label. The [Japanese Ska band] Determinations were playing as Prince Buster’s backing band and Universal wanted to cash in on that. It’s not really a happy story.

So I invited Prince Buster over for the tour and then Universal wanted to get in on it and they said they would sort everything out for me. I didn’t really know any better at the time, so I entrusted Universal with everything and lost out big time as a result. They sold something like 10,000 copies, but I didn’t make anything out of it and neither did Buster.

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.