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Artist Profiles: Mad Professor

Mad Professor

Mad Professor wears his original nickname earned early in his preteen years due to his intense interest in electronics. Born Neil Fraser in Guyana, he moved to London to live with his father when he was 13 years old.

Simultaneously drawn to electronics and music (primarily reggae), Mad Professor grew up building radios, reverb units, and mixing boards. In his early twenties (1979), he opened a four-track studio from the living room of his South London apartment.

From his humble beginnings, Mad Professor has grown a recording empire, showcasing premier UK performers such as Pato Banton, Maka B, U-Roy, and Sgt. Pepper. Today, his label Ariwa (a Nigerian word for Sound and Communication) is the largest African-owned studio complex in the U.K., boasting effects and analog recording machines that surpass many major Hollywood sound facilities.

Having released numerous number one hits with over 150 different recordings spanning over 2 decades, Ariwa Studios has been the home to some of the finest productions of the era. From there, Mad Professor made an impact on the British reggae scene pushing Dub to new electronic frontiers.

A disciple of Lee “Scratch” Perry, Mad Professor was one of the leading producers in dub reggae’s second generation. His legendary Dub Me Crazy albums set the standard for the emerging genre and brought dub into the digital age. Dub Me Crazy releases evolved into a series of 12 albums that showcase Mad Professor?s experimental and inventive electronic creations, relying heavily on the synthesized sound.

In 1984 Lee “Scratch” Perry visited Ariwa studios for the first time, where the ground was laid for the 1989 collaborative release Mystic Warrior, the beginning of Perry’s and Professor’s continuing collaborations. Soon, Mad Professor found himself in high demand in Reggae, Electronic, and Rock circles, leading into collaborations with high profile artists such as The Beastie Boys, Sade, The Orb, Depeche Mode, Jamiroquai, Perry Farrell, Rancid, and The KLF, among others.

In the 90s Mad Professor spearheaded a conscious Afrocentric Black Liberation Dub series, mixing electronics with more organic beats, creating a sound that is both rootsy and revolutionary. His highly successful 1995 release No Protection, a completely reinvented version of trip-hop collective Massive Attack’s second album, established his credentials as a master of Remixes, and ultimately outsold the original release. Mad Professor’s own influence now approaches that of his former mentor as he continues to push forward with new collaborations, tours and releases.

A workaholic of sorts, Mad Professor’s philosophy “More is Better” in life and in sound, stems from his drive to create: “I personally believe that everyday in one’s life one should produce something, one should do something, you know? Anything. Do something!“. This passion also projects as a message in his “mental mood music”, where he is striving to invoke emotion, a spirit you can feel, “meant to go in the mind where words can’t go“.

Discography:

In A Rub A Dub Style (1983)
A Caribbean Taste of Technology (1985)
True Born African Dub (1992)
The Lost Scrolls of Moses (1994)
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Professor
RAS Portraits (1997)
Dubbing You Crazy (2001)
Trix in the Mix (2001)
Method to the Madness (2005)
Dub You Crazy (2007)
The Dubs That Time Forgot (2008)
Audio Illusions of Dub (2009)
The Roots of Dubstep (2012)
Electro Dubclubbing (Ariwa, 2018)

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