Bobby Digital, Jamaica’s most influential producer dies

His credits include memorable recordings by Bounty Hunter, Buju Banton, Cocoa Tea, Capleton, Beenie Man and Chaka Demus, among a long list of Jamaican vocalists.

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Robert Dixon, who as Bobby Digital became one of Jamaica’s most influential producers, and whose production of the Shabba Ranks song “Dem Bow” became a cornerstone of reggaeton and 21st-century pop, died on May 21 in Kingston. He was 59.

His son Giark Dixon said the cause was kidney disease.

In the 1980s, Bobby Digital was at the forefront of dancehall’s transformation from rhythm tracks built primarily on live studio performances to computerized and electronic beats. In a prolific career that yielded more than 800 released songs, he recorded influential hits with the gritty-voiced dancehall toaster (rapper) Shabba Ranks, the spiritually charged singer Garnett Silk, the vocal harmony group Morgan Heritage and the socially conscious artist Sizzla.

His credits also include memorable recordings by Bounty Hunter, Buju Banton, Cocoa Tea, Capleton, Beenie Man and Chaka Demus, among a long list of Jamaican vocalists.

Bobby Digital — not to be confused with RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, who has also used that nickname — produced Shabba Ranks albums that won Grammy Awards in 1992 and 1993, “As Raw as Ever” and “X-Tra Naked.” And the terse, crisp beat of a 1990 Shabba Ranks song, “Dem Bow” — itself sampled from “Poco Man Jam,” a 1989 record by the Jamaican vocalist Gregory Peck, produced by Steely and Clevie — infiltrated pop worldwide after the Dominican production team Luny Tunes used it in early reggaeton hits. Bobby Digital’s productions have been sampled for hip-hop tracks by Jay-Z, Method Man and 50 Cent.

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