|Smoking Tuna actually started in early1996 by Henryk a.k.a. “Henry Morgan” and “Mr.” Arnold who after playing and promoting hip hop for quite some years discovered the magic of reggae and dancehall and began playing reggae at several events in the Rostock area. They quickly fell in love with reggae entirely and decided to build up the first reggae sound system in the northern section of East Germany. In this time reggae was something totally new to the audiences in the eastern part of Germany, so there was a mission to be fulfilled by the young sound, who struggled for acceptance in the local entertainment scene.
In summer 1996 they linked up with Stephan “Steppa Ranks” Kersten who just returned from a one year stay in Kingston, Jamaica. Due to his knowledge of the Jamaican patois they figured he could complete the sound, taking the role of the micman.
Rather a quiet person and not really equipped with the qualities of a big time entertainer he decided to give it a try and joined the sound, paying tribute to the mentioned mission of promoting dancehall music in its original manner. This proved to be the right thing to do as he managed to improve his skills on the microphone in the process of time, adding the essential spice to the soundsystems performance.
Now that the sound was complete SMOKING TUNA was ready to take off. They played various events in Rostock, supported well known hip hop and ska acts, invited other German and European sound systems and live acts and grew in popularity quickly. In August 1997 they promoted a weekend long reggae festival called Reggae Summer Vibration with a number of acts, such as Direct Impact Sound from London/UK. By then they also cut their first dub plate special with popular English artist Sandeeno, with whom they also toured Germany in 1999.
In late 1997 forces were joined with the local drum’n bass movement and the Bass Delight’s Club, held on a monthly basis and promoted by Smoking Tuna and the local jungle DJs Robin Masters and Kaidar, became the most popular non-mainstream event in the local entertainment scene. By this time Smoking Tuna had become a household name in the local scene and a first goal was finally achieved dancehallreggae had become an accepted and appreciated music form in our area.
In 1998 Smoking Tuna moved into high gear, playing various venues in Germany and becoming a highly ranked sound especially in the eastern part of the country. Their mixtape releases saw an astonishing impact on the scene and even made them more appreciated by the reggae massive all over.
In summer 1998 Smoking Tuna was invited to represent the German Reggae scene and join the celebrities at Stockholm/Sweden European cultural capital for 1998, where they played alongside Sweden-based sounds like Swing-a-ling Movement, Three The Hard Way and Topaz. In October `98 the crew travelled to England to check out the local scene, where they also took the chance to record some more dubplates.
On the local scene they continued to provide the audiences with top level performances, even inspiring new local sounds such as the Irie Vibes Crew to come into existence. In November the crew went into the first sound clash, against Hammerheart Sound System, to be witnessed in East Germany (outside Berlin).
1999 started as `98 had ended. The sound continued to increase their popularity due to constant presence on the scene. In March 99 Smoking Tuna supported German mainstream hip-hop acts Fettes Brot and Eins Zwo.
In April they toured several venues featuring English live entertainers Sandeeno and Jah-Ni as well as Tarantula Spiderman a.k.a. Shocka Black from Jamaica. In May it was the East London Cup Holders “King Original” featuring legend singer Nerious Joseph alongside Roots Commandment (Hamburg) and Smoking Tuna, who marked another highlight in the local reggae runnings.
Summer was very active for them too as Smoking Tuna had the pleasure to play three gigs with Jamaican top rank Caveman Sound plus artists like Steady Ranks, Danny Dread and Charly P. The Dancehall Refreshment `99 mixtape sold like hot bread and some more cities like Hamburg and Leipzig were played featuring the female rapper Pyranja and alongside Hammerheart and Roots Commandment Sounds (Hamburg) and Far East Sound System feat. Mighty Tolga in Leipzig.
Autumn was Birthday time. In late October Bass Delight Club celebrated the 2nd anniversary and once again the massive was impressed by performances by their favoured sound Smoking Tuna as well as Soundsistaz and Supersonic Sound from Berlin. November saw the delayed 3rd birthday bash of the sound featuring Italy’s No.1 sound One Love Hi Pawa and Kanga Roots Sound System from Hamburg.
The close of the millennium was marked by the “Ring The Alarm Tour `99” which featured cities such as Dresden and Prague (Czech Republic).
On the edge of the new millennium the sound had the chance to continue their mission of “conquering” the east with a first-time gig in the city of Sczecin, Poland, which has a long tradition in its roots and dub runnings from as early as the beginning of the 70’s. Smoking Tuna had the crowd in a frenzy from the very first tune to the very last, nicing up the place with their latest dancehall and soca tunes as well as custom-built dubplates. They also met the boss of the Poland-based popular tape-label called “Rock’n Roller”, who immediately decided to distribute the sounds mixtapes in Poland (by the way cassettes are still the most popular means of audio-material in this country).
The summer saw the birth of a new series of monthly dancehall shows in the sounds hometown, which became an instant favourite among the local bashment crews. The first staging of the show labelled “Riddim Shuffle” featured hip-hop combo Underdog Cru and Black Kappa from Montego Bay (Jamaica), who now lives in Berlin/Germany and definitely deserves the title of the rising star on the German dancehall horizon, whether as a performer or on his reformed MoBay sound “Killa Force”.
The following “Riddim Shuffle” shows featured artists and sounds such as Vido, Tolga, Supersonic Sound, Junior Vibes, Stereotone and the first appearances of a next upcoming sound system from the area the Los Cassettos Crew.
In August it was all about the East once again, when Smoking Tuna played two shows at the Pepsi-Sziget Festival in Budapest (Hungary), which is one of the biggest festivals on the continent with over 300.000 people attending every year. Smoking Tuna and “partners-in crime” Al-Haca Sound from Greifswald gave the international audience at the “African Stage” a real hype and so did various reggae-bands from all over Europe and the African continent.
The trips “a foreign” were followed by a series of appearances at open-air-festivals, hip-hop-jams and dances all over Germany, crossing from Hamburg to Dresden via Goettingen and back to Rostock. Smoking Tuna was also invited to play at the official final show of the 2000 “Hemp Parade” in Berlin and a few months later they joined the “Berlin Sound System Meeting” at the same location.
The sales of the sounds much requested mixtapes were (and are) still on the increase, being distributed through various record-stores and mail orders. Even more dubplates were recorded and the sound again proved its constant talent in “refixing” popular R’n’B and Hip-Hop-Tunes for the dancehall fraternity.
Since October 2000 the sound is also present on the airwaves, hosting a monthly reggae- and dancehall show on the local radio. In the near future the sound will further their spectrum again with the release of their own dancehall-productions, definitely worth the wait.
Keep your eyes and ears open, for the full has not yet been told.
Thanks to all the supporters, promoters, artists and media for the continuing support.
Respect every time