DJs Gravy, Max Glazer, Weed Cologne, Maya, Orijahnal Vibes, along with MC Micro Don and guest host Skerrit Bwoy (the face of Major Lazer), make Rice and Peas the hottest dancehall party in New York City. Rice and Peas’ monthly residency–the first Monday of every month–is at Sway in Tribeca. The core trio of the Rice and Peas collective–Gravy, Max and Micro–also hold down Q-Tip every Friday night, at Santos Party House. On Fridays, the open party features Va$hti and Q-Tip the Abstract, who spins old school party jams upstairs on the main dance floor to keep it groovy and funky, while Gravy, Max and Micro are in the basement keeping the vibes nice and sweaty.
Micro Don, an apt name for his tiny stature and the way he runs tings, has a deep, bass-y, Patois-tinged voice that belies his appearance. It’s almost hard to imagine such a powerful sound can emit from such a lithe person. Micro is on the mic, screaming at girls with clean punanis to put their hands up, while Gravy and Max Glazer, the selectors, are spinning the baddest dancehall tracks, interspersed with reggae. Gravy, a venerable Encyclopedia Reggaetannica never misses a tune, and always keeps the crowd winding, making dancehall relevant in the downtown hipster world.
Rice and Peas parties have had almost every relevant dancehall and reggae star come through at one point or another. Shaggy, Sean Paul, Richie Spice, Assassin, Mr Vegas, Mos Def, Asher Roth, Jeru the Damaja, etc., have all come through. Chip Fu of the Fushnickins, whose new EP War Paint is about to drop, took some time out of the studio last week to pass through, as did über-producer Just Blaze who guest deejayed in the basement of the party house. The vibe was alive well past last call. Gravy told Micro to, “stop chatting and turn the lights on,” so people would leave at almost 5:00 a.m.
Gravy talks about the origins of the downtown dancehall massive’s movement, saying:
Max had been doing downtown reggae parties a long time ago. Except for Deadly Dragon Sound who were more on the roots tip, there was no real downtown dancehall-meets-Caribbean theme, the way Max was doing it. When he left to go on the Rihanna tour for a couple of years, no one really picked up the slack, so he inspired me to pick up the torch and start Rice and Peas to fill the void he left in the scene. When he finally came back from the world tour, he joined up with Rice and Peas.
Reggae was a four letter word to clubs for a long time. They didn’t see it as a sexy thing. They saw it as all dudes, with no one spending money at the bar. It was a tough sell. We spoke to Roxy (Cottontail), and she agreed to give us a home. By the second party, she loved it and was down with us.
Asked what he thinks of the recent truce between Dancehall’s key players, Mavado and Vybz Kartel, he replied:
I love Dancehall. I love Mavado and Vybz Kartel’s music. I know all their tracks word-for-word! As far as them making peace, they were never really enemies. It was never a real war between them. It was war between their crews and their fans. It was like WWF, but unfortunately people were getting cut up over it. They had to make up if they wanted to play Sting [the longest-running Jamaican annual event on Boxing Day].
Rice and Peas was hands down the best party of 2009. No doubt they will run dis ting in the new decade as well.