The Bookshelf Riddim Turns 20

The Bookshelf rhythm, produced by Tony Kelly, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The beat was released in 1998 and spawned two Billboard hit singles, Sean Paul’s Deport Dem and Sasha’s Dat Sexy Body.

Kelly spoke to Splash about the Bookshelf‘s origins.

“The Bookshelf rhythm developed from just hearing sounds and how they made me feel at the time. For instance, the chords were just different and at that time, I didn’t know much about the technical stuff. I just knew how it made me feel, so I just went off my feeling and I still do up to this day,” he said.

“The bass was easy to play, to just complement the chord movements. The drum sounds came about the same way and I kept going through sounds until the feel-good vibe hit me. Then we added the breathy sample that we recorded of myself and my engineers at the time, who were Claude ‘Weak Hand’ Reynolds and Duane ‘Foodie Virtue’,” Kelly continued.

Bookshelf also featured the title track by Beenie Man, Gal Say Woee by Tanto Metro and Devonte, Jack it Up from Mr Vegas, Watching You by Wayne Wonder and From You Hot from Tanya Stephens, all of which made different charts.

Gal Say Woee was initially given to Shaggy but he passed on it. Deport Dem was written for Beenie Man but was eventually assigned to Sean Paul who altered the lyrics to fit his style.

Kelly said he did not have any great expectations for the project.

“I really do music for the love, so I don’t really expect anything from it. If it gives people joy and makes them happy, then I would have done a good thing. We just kept working the record for months because the feedback was good and we continued to push until it took off,” he recalled.

The producer recently added a new song to Bookshelf to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

“Me and Supa Dups had redone the beat a couple years back for a Bruno Mars project that fell through. Now, I have signed the young and talented singer Khalia, so I was like, let’s give her a shot on it. Her song is called My Name, which she recorded about July. I was just waiting for the right time to drop it,” he disclosed.

Asked what has made Bookshelf timeless, Kelly said, “Probably the realness and the feel-good vibe that makes you want to move. It could be the tempo and the old English chords structure. The songs were fun and positive, bigging up the girls.”

Kelly began his music career in the mid-1980s as an assistant engineer at Tuff Gong where he learned the fundamentals of production from the likes of Scientist and Errol Brown. He later moved to Penthouse Records and also worked for the Shocking Vibes label.

He had a hit streak with his K-Licious label, producing songs including Like Glue by Sean Paul (which peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three in the United Kingdom); She Drives Me Crazy by Mr Easy, Patra’s Queen of The Pack, TOK’s Chi Chi Man and Snow’s Anything for You All-Star Cast Remix.

Source: The Bookshelf turns 20

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