Wake the Town

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"Wake the Town"
Single by U-Roy
Released 1970 (1970)
Genre Reggae
Songwriter(s) U-Roy, Reid

"Wake the Town" is a reggae song recorded by Jamaican toaster U-Roy in 1970. It was U-Roy's first big hit and one of the songs that established U-Roy as the grandfather of the modern deejay phenomenon.[1] It also helped create dancehall style in Jamaica.[1]

The recording that led to the single was initiated when John Holt attended a sound system party, and heard U-Roy deejay. Holt convinced U-Roy and producer Duke Reid to hook up, and have U-Roy talk-over some of Reid's Treasure Island rocksteady classics. U-Roy recorded "Wake the Town" (and another hit, "Rule the Nation"), using his talk-over style, from start to finish without any restarts.[2]

"Wake the Town" quickly went to number one on Jamaica's pop music charts, along with "Rule the Nation" at number two,[2] and many other deejays began to adopt his style.[3] These two songs, along with "Wear You to the Ball", established U-Roy as a dancehall star[1] and helped create the deejay sound. Dennis Alcapone said of the song, "When U-Roy come with 'Wake the Town' it's like a new Jamaica was born".[4]


Wake the Town and Tell the People: Dancehall Culture in Jamaica is a book discussing the history of dancehall music in Jamaica by cultural anthropologist Norman Stolzoff.[1]


"Wake the Town" was sampled in the 1994 songs "Omaha Stylee" by 311 and "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" by Dawn Penn.[citation needed] It was also sampled in the song "Good Night" by Kanye West on his album Graduation.


  1. ^ a b c d Stolzoff, Norman C. (2000). Wake the Town & Tell the People: Dancehall Culture in Jamaica. Duke University Press. pp. 92–97. ISBN 0-8223-2514-4. 
  2. ^ a b "U-Roy wakes the town… and rules the nation with version". jamaica-gleaner.com. Retrieved 2017-08-19. 
  3. ^ Masouri, John (November 11, 2009). Wailing Blues: The Story of Bob Marley's Wailers. Omnibus Press. pp. 200–. ISBN 978-0-85712-035-9. 
  4. ^ Bradley, Lloyd (2001). This is Reggae Music: The Story of Jamaica's Music. Grove Press. p. 300. ISBN 978-0-8021-3828-6.