By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Your mom likes Bob Marley. But really, that says a lot more about Bob than it does about the wide and diverse genre usually associated with dreadlocks and Rastafarianism. As a decades-long reggae fan and selector, DJ Gregory-G—along with cohorts Sonic Dread, Virginia Slim and MC Chicho—brings the reggae riddims on a monthly basis via club Crucial.
Have you ever been to Jamaica?I was in Jamaica in '94, and I'm supposed to go in November of this year.
What was it like?It was a big wakeup call for me. It was so poor, yet the people seemed happy.
Do you DJ reggae music besides what you do with Crucial Sound System?I'm the DJ for the Jamaican Cultural Alliance. It's a group of older Jamaicans that live in the LA and Orange County areas. They do some benefits. They gave an award to the original Jamaican bobsled team from 1988. They try to preserve Jamaican culture, not just the music, but also other things Jamaicans are known for.
Did you get any resistance to your deejaying for them since you're not Jamaican?Not at all. Once they knew that I understood the music, they were happy with that. Just understanding their culture made them feel comfortable.
Of the different styles of reggae, what's your favorite?I like what's considered conscious dancehall, which is the more revolutionary style of the music. You could still dance to it. It's still upbeat, yet it's social and political. It opens up to world politics. It's very anti-war. It takes stabs at George Bush.
How do you feel about non-reggae bands that have co-opted reggae's sound?I'm a huge Clash fan. I like anybody who brings it over and gets a little bit more recognition for the music, maybe opens people's eyes. "I Shot the Sheriff" done by Eric Clapton opened people's eyes to Bob Marley. UB40 in their early years is some really good music. What they're doing now . . . [laughs]. I just listened to their latest album and thought, "My God, this is horrible."
Do you have to explain the religious aspects of a lot of reggae to people?I'm Jewish, but I have some Rastafarian beliefs. I do find myself explaining it quite a bit.
How do Jamaicans react to your being Jewish?A friend from the Jamaican Cultural Alliance recently told me that the first Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere was built in Jamaica. Now with Matisyahu, the Hasidic Jewish reggae singer, it's becoming very interesting.
Do you like Matisyahu?I love him. It's something that I knew was going to be there at one time, and all of a sudden here he is. I was getting e-mails from all these members of my family. I'd heard about him, but I hadn't heard him. The minute I heard him I thought, "This is going to blow some people away."
CRUCIAL AT THE PROSPECTOR, 2400 E. SEVENTH ST., LONG BEACH, (562) 438-3839. SAT., 10 P.M. $5. 21+. CONTINUES THE FIRST SAT. OF EVERY MONTH. VISIT MYSPACE.COM/21869319 FOR GREGORY-G AND MYSPACE.COM/48341862 FOR CRUCIAL SOUND SYSTEM.