Founded in the 1970s by Lloyd Barnes, as the Wackie's House Of Music based on White Plains Road in New York, the name Wackies also include a record shop and a studio. It is considered by some to be the first significant reggae studio and label in the United States.
Wackies music has a distinctive sound. It is bass heavy and deliberately crafted to have what some people call a "lo-fi" sound. Wackies achieved this sound using special recording techniques and equipment. This equipment was so notable that some pieces now have a place in the Les Paul Museum. Popular Jamaican reggae artists such as Horace Andy, Sugar Minott, and Wayne Jarret appeared regularly on the label. However, Lloyd Barnes developed a number of New York-based artists such as: Itopia; Chosen Brothers; Love Joys; Jah Batta; Clive Field Marshall; Dub Generals, and Junior Delahaye, whose releases primarily appeared on the Wackies label. Most commonly known as "Bullwackie All Stars," Lloyd Barnes worked with a notable group of studio musicians including: Jerry Harris; Ras Menelik; Jerry Johnson; Clive "Azul" Hunt, and Douglas Levy.
Influence on Hip Hop
Wackies music, while mainly known for its contribution to reggae, influenced the burgeoning hip hop movement of late 1970s and early 1980s New York. Reggae sound system dances were quite popular throughout New York City. Wackies music was played on specialized, powerful soundsystems while reggae deejays such as Jah Batta vocalized rhythmically and melodically atop the trademark bass-heavy sound. This influenced and encouraged the development of the hip hop parties featuring live MC's, the counterpart to the reggae soundsystem deejay. In 1979, Wackies also released one of the earliest hip hop records, "Wack Rap" by Solid C., Bobby D., and Kool Drop.
1990s and Wackies Far East Chapter
Wackies continued to record and release music through the 1990s, and in 1999 collaborated with Ras Takashi to form the Wackies Far East Chapter in Japan. An extensive promotional tour of Japan featuring Ras Takashi and Ras Kush of Black Redemption Sounds of Praises occurred in the same year to establish the label. Releases on the Wackie Far East label included contribution from Lloyd Barnes, Ras Takahi, Ras Kush, among others. Wackies Far East Chapter, under the guidance of Ras Takashi, continues to be a force for Wackies release and distribution in Japan.
Wackies music continues to be released in the 2000s. Jammyland, Plush label, Ras Takashi, Dubsensemania and many others continue to collaborate with Lloyd Barnes. Concurrently, re-issues of 1970s and 1980s Wackies music have attained remarkable popularity and remain a constant force on the vintage scene.
Most if not all of the original (1970s and 1980s) Wackies recorded releases are out-of-print and in demand among reggae music collectors. Germans Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, passionate devotees of the label's sound, have undertaken an extensive and ongoing 12" and LP re-issue campaign for the label through an exclusive imprint in the Basic Channel record label family, bearing the Wackies logo and label design. To date, the imprint has put out work from artists such as Horace Andy, Wayne Jarrett, Love Joys, The Meditations, and Sugar Minott, as well as several strictly dub releases by Wackies-sponsored bands.