“We turn our focus to the veteran sound Emperor Faith, a sound that was active in Jamaica from the dawn of seventies through to the mid eighties. Owner Mikey Faith acquired the set in 1969 buying it from original owner who had called it Sir Faith. Mikey promised to stay true the sounds regal name, and it was elevated to title of Emperor Lord Faith. He was then based at 132 Red Hills Road, Kingston 19, playing for the locals and building up the sound, utilising the services of the legendary King Tubby who supplied the set with its amps powered by 6 KT88 tubes in each. Between the early days of 1970-72 Emperor Faith’s deejays/selectors consisted of Monkey Man, Jah Roy and Tribulation.
Our earliest Emperor Faith tape, the classic 1974 recording at UWI Students Union, is also the oldest known example of dancehall soundclashing. Around the mid seventies owner Mikey Faith could call on the emerging deejay talents of U. Brown (b. Huford Brown), Jah Mikes and a guy known as Irons.
It’s frustrating that so few Faith tapes have emerged over the years and most of them date from 1980-82. By 1980 the sound had moved west to Portmore and attracting legendary deejays of the calibre of Ranking Trevor (b. Trevor Grant) and Ranking Joe (b. Joseph Jackson) who arrived with his selector spar Jah Screw (b. Paul Love). The latter duo had both worked together on Ray Symbolic and the first incarnation of King Sturgav but by 1980 Ranking Joe was starring for Emperor Faith. Others to grace the set in this period were Nicodemus, Jah Mikey, Papa Marshall, John Steel and later, Charlie Chaplin.
The audio of the May 1981 Skateland session reveals the full Emperor Faith crew to consist of Mikey Faith, Ital Bobby, Richie and Marky. They competed in the dancehalls of Jamaica frequently taking an active part in the now popular soundclashing events happening all around the island. The last time Emperor Faith played out was for a Skateland dance against Black Scorpio in 1984. Eventually, though Mikey Faith sold on the set to a new owner in Oracabessa, St Mary in the nineties. The following dozen or so sessions showcase the important part that Emperor Faith played in the rise of Jamaican rub a dub and dancehall music.”
With special thanks to Omari Sankofa and Dave Brown for the additional information.
Interview With Mikey Faith Owner of Lord Emperor Faith January 22, 2011
Conducted by Dave Brown and Omari Sankofa
(RB) - Greetings Mikey hope all is good with you tonight…well it’s been a long time glad to link up with you. Well our first question is what year did you
start in the sound system business?
(MF) - “I first bought the sound in 1969 from a man who had named it Sir Faith. He begged me not to change the name of the sound and it was a good thing him say that cah that’s what I was planning on.” I started to play at 132 Red Hills Rd. for about 2 years with few of the local Dj’s from the area. During this time we played at local birthday parties for the community until we get a big break when we play before El Paso Sound come on. Dennis Al Capone hadn’t show up as yet and the crowd love us.”
(RB) - Why did you get involved in the sound business?
(MF) - “I used to move around with the Wailers cause we were friends and used to hang out. Dat time dem didn’t drive and I would drive dem around to different studio like Randy’s. I wasn’t looking to get involved with sound it just happened that I was around studio a lot and loved the music.”
(RB) - Who build the sound for you?
(MF) - “King Tubby build the amps dem – with 6 KT 88 tubes in each.”
(RB) - Which DJ and Selector were first on the sound?
(MF) - “First time it was a bredda name Monkey Man and we have Jah Roy and Tribulation”
(RB) – What years were they around?
(MF) – “Between 1970 and ‘72”
(RB) - …and after ’72?
(MF) – “We have Irons, Ray I, Jah Mikes, U Brown and as you know Ranking Joe and Jah Screw. I did select the sound most of the time.”
(RB) – Which were the popular sounds you played with back then?
(MF) – “Arrows, King Tubby, El Paso, Tippertone, King Attorney and later Taurus, Jack Ruby and Sturgav”
(RB) – Where was Emperor Faith based and where did the sound play most regular?
(MF) – “ The sound was based at 132 Red Hills Rd. until about 1980 an we relocate to Portmore. Although we in town we play a lot a dance up a St. Mary – the St. Mary people dem love we!”
(RB) – Who did you first get dubs from?
(MF) – Lee Perry was the first one to give me dubs up a Randy’s and true me and the Wailers was good friends we used to get dubs from them and whole heap ah other artists. A nuff dub me get from Coxsone.”
(RB) – Any dubs come to mind as a favorite?
(MF) – Too much dub fi name.
(RB) – When were your favourite years with the sound?
(MF) – “1972 – 1977”
(RB) – We know about your famous clash with Arrows and the dance is all over the internet. Which were the biggest clash that come to mind?
(MF) – (With nuff excitement! And Laughs)
“Arrows gainst Faith in 1972 at Vineyard Town but the dance get mash up by police. Then we clash again a couple years later at Student Union.
(RB) - (Interrupting before I forget to ask)
Who was the DJ on Emperor Faith?
(MF) – “In those days it wasn’t like you have nuff DJ pon the sound – you have 1 sometimes 2 DJ whole night.”
(RB) – Do you remember who was the DJ on ‘Faith’ at the Student Union Clash with Arrows?
(MF) – “Ah coulda Irons and Jah Mikes.”
(RB) – Any other clash come to mind? Danny Dread and Trevor (Ranking) told me about an infamous clash with Faith and King Attorney.
(MF) – “Yes! We clash first time up ah Logan Ave. and the second was at South Camp road. This was the biggest clash to me. (According to Danny and Trevor that was about 1977)
(RB) – What happened to the sound and when was the last time it played?
(MF) – “The last time we play was at Skateland against Black Scorpio in 1984.”
(RB) – Do you still have the sound?
(MF) – “No I sold the sound in the 90’s to a bredda named Mikey – the sound is in Oracabessa.
(RB) – So the sound named Mikey Faith in Texas is not you?
(MF) – No I’ve never been there the sound only played in Jamaica but I did talk to him one time and him sey tru him did love my sound that’s why him name it Mikey Faith.”
(RB) – Thank you Mikey, many people ask about the history of this sound and don’t know so this info will be really appreciated. Emperor Faith is a legendary name in Sound bizness. All now there is a special coming online. We’ll keep you updated and link you for more later. Blessing Mikey
(MF) – Alright Bless
Emperor Faith v Arrows @ UWI Students Union, 8 Cedar Valley Road, Standpipe, Kingston 6, 14th April 1974
Featuring Irons on Emperor Faith and Crutches on Arrows
Emperor Faith – IronsThis is a real historic recording. The original tape inlay said it was just Emperor Faith with U. Brown & Crutches 1974, but, thanks to Jayman’s ‘twiddlings,’ it reveals that there are two sounds, Emperor Faith and Arrows, taped at the same dance on Easter Sunday at the University of West Indies Students Union.
The first twenty five minutes is Emperor Faith, running pure Studio One tunes in particular Alton Ellis. Although U. Brown was stated to be on it, there is a suggestion that it’s a deejay named Irons who frequented the Emperor Faith set. They then hand over to "King" Arrows. Crutches was the other stated deejay so this ties in with Arrows. Their selection is a bit more varied with Bunny Lee productions from Johnny Clarke and Horace Andy. At one point Arrows says "Emperor Faith comes, but couldn't live it up" to a Burning Spear track.
Could this be the earliest recorded sound clash????
Emperor Faith v Studio 54 @ Skateland, Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 5, 5th April 1981
Featuring: Ranking Joe
Selector – Jah Screw
“Emperor Faith take on Studio 54 in a Skateland clash and Ranking Joe wastes no time dismissing the “country sound” in “Dis A Burial”. Jah Screw mixes those essential Studio One dubs with new tunes from Sugar Minott and Triston Palma. About half way through Faith open their second section with a couple of crucial custom made specials from Pat Kelly and Al Campbell. Joe has plenty of lyrics straight to “54’s” head, with the best being the stinging “Sound Bwoy A Weh You Come From!”
Emperor Faith @ Skateland, Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 5, circa May 1981
Featuring: Echo Minott, Ranking Trevor, U. Brown
Selector – Mikey Faith
“Quite often marked as being live at Arrows Bamboo Lawn, we think it’s Skateland again. The two veteran deejays Ranking Trevor and U. Brown are joined by upcoming singer Echo Minott. Mikey plays some great dubs including multiple combinations of Jackie Mittoo’s Hot Milk” scorcher and U. Brown sticks to the riddim like glue. Ranking Trevor has some Barrington Levy versions to work with and he comes with “Dreadful Time” and “The Winner”. Echo Minott remembers the late General Echo in “Another One Bites The Dust” as well as delivering a good medley over Earl 16’s “Slave”, an updated version to“Never Let Go.”
Emperor Faith @ Club 22, Old Harbour, St Catherine, 1981
Featuring: U. Brown, Papa Marshall
“U. Brown controls this dance held at Club 22 in the town of Old Harbour. Assisted by Papa Marshall, who only gets a go briefly during the Johnny Osbourne selection on “Father Jungle Rock”, it’s really the U. Brown show with him chatting all night. Amongst the many highlights being “Why Dem A Fight I So”, “Weather Balloon” and his new single out on the street “Pride & Joy”. A great example of U. Brown in full control.”
Emperor Faith @ Waterford Parkway, Portmore, St Catherine, October 1981
Featuring: Ranking Joe, John Steel, Billy Bob, Santa Ranking
Selector – Mikey Faith & Jah Screw
“Here’s Emperor Faith in session at Zambi Corner on the Waterford Parkway in Portmore and as usual Ranking Joe is there. It’s early October and the place is rocking to the sounds of Johnny Osbourne, Dennis Brown and Eek A Mouse. “Papa Faith A The Dub Organizer” sets the tone and Joe continues to shock as he rides the “Jah Shakey” riddim in a “Mash Down Rome” style. This time he’s joined by some upcoming artists like Santa Ranking, before he made his name in America, and in pre Jaro days, John Steel, who deejays “All Rise To Meet Jah” on the essential sound system rhythm “Shank I Sheck”.
Emperor Faith @ Riverboat Club, Temple Hall, St Andrew, 16th October 1981
Featuring: Ranking Joe, John Steel
Selector – Jah Screw
“Moving uptown to the Riverboat Club in Temple Hall, Ranking Joe has them “Bouncing” to the likes of Cornell Campbell, Leroy Smart and Earl Sixteen. He also harks back to the days of the late seventies as he reactivates some old lyrics such as “Milkman Coming” and “Answer Me Question”. John Steel, who cut the single “Selassie On His White Horse” for Jammy’s in the late seventies, is again by Joe’s side delivering some dance lyrics this time in “A So Me Jam”.
Emperor Faith @ 70 Mannings Hill Road, Kingston 8, 25th October 1981
Featuring: U. Brown, Ranking Joe, Mr Levy
Selector – Jah Screw
“Uptown Sunday night vibes, as Emperor Faith visit Kingston 8 for this taped in the dance session. Jah Screw selects wave after wave of Studio One riddims and U. Brown and Ranking Joe are right at home on classics like these. “Throw Me Corn”, “Rougher Yet”, “Jah Shakey” and ”Hot Milk” all get the treatment and highlights here are U. Brown’s “Lion In The Jungle” and Joe’s “Daddy Faith Nah Fuss Nor Fight” to name just a few.”
Emperor Faith @ Bugs Bunny Lawn, Port Maria, St Mary, circa November 1981
Featuring: Ranking Joe, Nicodemus
Selector – Mikey Faith
“Recorded in Port Maria at the wonderfully named Bugs Bunny Lawn, Emperor Faith come to town bringing two heavyweight deejays in the form of Ranking Joe and Nicodemus. Owner Mikey Faith is selector on the night and his picks come from artists like Barrington Levy, Phillip Fraser and Triston Palma, who’s special “Papa Faith No 1 Sound” is an adaption of the singers huge “Entertainment” single. Nicodemus tours Jamaica in his “Parish Connection” but for this portion of the dance it’s Ranking Joe who holds the mic most with “Leggo Mr Babylon” and “Choice Of Sound” being stand out moments.”
Emperor Faith @ Arrows Bamboo Lawn, Oracabessa, St Mary, May 1982
Featuring: Papa Tubby, Tonto Irie, Senator D, Billy Boyo, Brimstone, Jah Buzz
Selector – Mikey Faith
“Here’s a dance which took place at Bulby’s Arrows Bamboo Lawn in Oracabessa with a larger than usual line up around the decks. Mikey Faith dips into his musical box and runs some Anthony Johnson, George Nooks, Leroy Smart and Triston Palma for the crowds listening pleasure. Papa Tubby rides the “Boxing” riddim declaring “Jamaica A Fe We Country” while Tonto “Ranking” Irie comments on the recent troubles concerning “Argentina & England”. Billy Boyo, in pre Volcano days, comes with “Lift It Up” and Senator D is bright on “Gone In A Different Way” and “Ants Connection”. The senior deejay on show is Brimstone and he shows the way with shots like “Massive Skank”, “Girls Dem Gwan So” and the positive “Try To Reach The Top”. A very varied Faith session.”
Emperor Faith @ Highgate Community Centre, Highgate, St Mary, circa July 1982
Featuring: Brimstone, U. Brown, Senator D, Jah Mikey
Selector – Mikey Faith
“The community centre at Highgate is the venue for this Emperor Faith gathering. Big hitter U. Brown has made the trip and of course he handles the microphone the most. He talks to the dancers urging them to “Rock To Papa Faith” as the sound plays ”Strictly Rub A Dub” all night. Brimstone details the harshness of “Life In A Jailhouse” quickly followed by Senator D’s “Four Man To One Spliff Tail”. Jah Mikey makes his entrance late on and he lifts the proceedings gaining forwards as he chats “What A Bam Bam” and “Nah Leave Working Class”.
Emperor Faith @ Portland, December 1982
Featuriing: Puddy Roots, U. Brown, Jah Mikey
Selector – Mikey Faith
“This is a pre-Christmas Emperor Faith dance held in the parish of Portland. The usual mix of vintage Studio 1 and contemporary dancehall blend together well and U. Brown and Jah Mikey are well suited to these rhythms. Brown gets a good call and response from the crowd during “Hotter Armagideon” and Jah Mikey sticks to his roots in his “Nah Leave Working Class”. Puddy Roots, who both sings and deejays here, remembers the “79 Flood” which hit the island a few years earlier. A really entertaining session to round off our 1982 sessions.”