More than 20 years ago, dancehall reggae fans in San Diego spent Saturday nights at a Mason-owned building named Fidelity Hall that was the first of its kind locally, mirroring the reggae music trends in Jamaica.
Small, dark and filled with true lovers of reggae music, the shows often featured featured Destiny Roots' DJ Spidaman (Jeff Ricketts), who pulled LPs out of milk crates, and MC Commanda Jackson (Michael Jackson). who kept the crowd hyped with his gruff voice.
Spidaman began Destiny Roots 40-minute set with Half Pint’s “Greetings,” as Commanda introduced the sound system to the crowd and thanked the hosts. Tthe crowd stopped dancing and waited to hear the dancehall tunes they were accustomed to. Then, as a perceptive and experienced selector should, Spidaman played a series of classic dancehall songs, including Power Man’s “Stone.”
Continuing with dancehall, dancers then heard tunes by Buju Banton, Super Cat and Mr. Vegas. Always a crowd favorite, “Clarkes,” by Vybz Kartel featuring Popcaan, was received with cheers. Although mostly a dancehall set, Destiny Roots' performance was an excellent all-around sound, and I haven’t heard a selector who can play lovers rock reggae as well as Spidaman. Ending with an ode to the Africans who have supported Destiny Roots for many years, Commanda said, “Bless to all the Africans in the building,” and Spidaman played Akon’s hit song “Mama Africa.”
San Diego being a military town, Jamaicans and other West Indian people were stationed here and lacked cultural connections, which birthed Destiny Roots sound. Spidaman and Commanda paved the wave for many local reggae sound systems. We’re lucky to have them back in the reggae scene.