Marvin Sparks is a self-described “student, story sharer and contributing archivist.” He’s also the author of the crucial new book Run the Riddim: The Untold Story of ’90s Dancehall to the World. It’s the first book to document this era of Jamaican music in depth, and Marvin has done an incredible job of bringing it to life.
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
I began interviewing reggae and dancehall artists in 2008 based on my frustration with their representation and lack thereof. It was easy to read about my favourite hip hop, r&b and grime artists, but I rarely saw anything with my favourite Jamaican artists. When I did, it was usually written from a patronising point of view or relatively ignorant, mainly by older, non-Jamaican journalists.
I vowed to do my part in changing that, so after writing in to complain about a Mavado interview, I conducted interviews for the website of a popular online radio station in London called Pyro Radio. I spoke with Tarrus Riley, Morgan Heritage, Busy Signal, Etana, Jah Cure, Beres Hammond and many of the big names in the genres at the time and of all time. They were so impressed with my work within that field that they asked me to interview acts from other genres such as Skepta, Flo-Rida, TI, Akon, Trey Songz, Raekwon, John Legend, Keri Hilson and others.