I-Roy (APS Books, June 2022)

After a short chapter on the Jamaican toasting tradition, the book first provides a brief overview of I-Roy’s career. Then come four chapters which look at different aspects of I-Roy’s artistry. In Chapter III, the former Beat journalist and reggae enthusiast Michael Turner analyses I-Roy’s music through the prism of the 45 rpm record, a medium which is central to the dissemination and consumption of reggae music. Michael focuses on thirty I-Roy singles and provides short, sharp and insightful summaries of what makes these singles truly original and powerful vignettes of Jamaican life.

In Chapter IV, James Danino, a reggae activist and deejay living in France looks at the Mento and Calypso roots of I-Roy’s music and focuses on the bawdy or smutty side of his toasts. James’s essay is proof that slackness, as it is known in reggae circles, has a long pedigree and did not crop up out of the blue in the 1980s, as is sometimes believed.

Chapter V consists of an essay by David Bousquet about the musical feud between I-Roy and another well-known 1970s deeajy, Prince Jazzbo (Linval Carter). David Bousquet examines the two deejays’ toasts and provides a detailed analysis of each deejay’s contributions to this legendary episode in the history of Jamaican music.

Chapter VI looks at an often-mentioned facet of I-Roy’s art, his spoken introductions.