Dub music has a family tree. From godfathers King Tubby and Lee Perry, second generation masters Prince Jammys and Mad Professor, down to current current heavyweight champion Scientist, three generations of Jamaican engineers have been shaping the sound of the dancehall. Enter a Palestinian-American named Andre Afram Asmar.

Growing up in the South bay of Los Angeles, Asmar, like many of his generation, grew up steeped in hip-hop culture. His first releases, Asmarbeats Volumes 1 & 2, and The Living Zombeats, featured solid hip-hop production with trace elements of the world music and dub and roots reggae that would define his subsequent work for Mush Records.

When asked about his sound Andre replies, "I say it's a fusion, but that sounds so stupid. I was definitely raised on hip-hop, influenced by it, but I've been influenced by music of the whole planet. The purpose of my music is just to possibly channel some kind of light through it. I believe that certain humans on this planets just have no choice but to be conduits of good. I believe that it's my moral obligation to channel good."

By 2001, Andre had collected sound with roots from around the third world to create his debut Mush LP Racetothebottom. The traditional dub framework of drums and bass was embellished with layers of live Middle Eastern, African and Brazilian percussion and hip-hop drum programming. Jamaican-style harmonies wove through Arab chants and hip-hop hooks. Dub titan Scientist gave his blessing to Asmar, collaborating on the track "Scientism" and reggae soundsystem legend George "Fully" Fullwood lent his bass to a handful of tracks. Vocals were recorded everywhere from the studios of Los Angeles to the streets of Salvador, Brazil to the refugee camps of the West Bank. The album encapsulated Andre's message of common humanity and giving voice to the suffering, and caught the attention of NPR, The New York Times and The Village Voice. When XLR8R Magazine called Mush Records one of America's Top 20 Underground Labels, Racetothebottom was their choice for the label's essential release.

"I was definitely raised on hip-hop, influenced by it, but I've been influenced by music of the whole planet. The purpose of my music is just to possibly channel some kind of light through it."
Notable Asmar Collaborators

Scientist: Born Hopeton Brown, Scientist began his career as an apprentice to dub pioneers King Tubby and Prince Jammys at Kingston, Jamaica at Tubby's Dromillo Road Studios. He then went on to mix albums for the legendary Jamaican recording houses Studio One, Channel One, and Tuff Gong.

Ras Michael: Born Michael George Henry In Kingston, Jamaica, Ras Michael was the first Rastafarian on the radio in Jamaica. Beginning as a studio musician at the famous Studio One in Jamaica, his group The Sons Of Negus have become famous for their positive message and powerful drumming.

Majek Fashek: A Nigerian born reggae singer and guitarist. His albums have seen release on CBS, Insterscope, Islandand Tuff Gong Records. He gained critical acclaim in the United States for his album Spirit Of Love, produced by "Little" Steven Van Zandt.

George "Fully" Fullwood: Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Fully Fullwood got his start playing bass on sessions with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, The MIghty Diamonds, U-Roy, Prince Far-I and many, many more. After a stint as one of Jamaica's most important bass players, he has relocated to Brazil, London, and now the United States, each time finding new directions to explore in music. Recently, he has been focusing on a solo career, working with bluegrass giant Peter Rowan, and nurturing younger artists.

Circus: A Los Angeles-based MC/visual artist and ringleader of underground supergroup the Shapeshifters. Circus' art, both audio and visual, has been praised by Vice, Urb, Thrasher and many more.

Antimc: A Los Angeles mainstay, Matthew Alsberg has been paying dues producing, touring, mixing and arranging albums and live shows for over a decade. Beginning with his work with Log Cabin (which included MURS, Eligh and Scarub of the Living Legends) through his production and touring work with Boom Bip and MCs Radioinactive and Busdriver, Antimc has proven his strength as a musician's musician. Lately, he has mixed albums for Mush Records artists K-The-I???, Lymbyc Systym, and now Andre Afram Asmar.

Racetothebottom was followed by the EP release Transmigration and the full-length Gawd Bless The Faceless Cowards, a collaboration with MC Circus, the leader of legendary Los Angeles underground rap group the Shapeshifters in 2003. Transmigration was made up of 13 tracks of percussion and vocals recorded in open-air sessions on the beach in Los Angeles. Gawd Bless The Faceless Cowards was a return to the hip-hop music of Asmar's adolescence, but with the overtly (and sometimes covertly) political satire that define both Asmar and Circus' earlier work. CMJ Magazine declared it "Better than any other anti-Bush record" of 2004.

In addition to putting together tracks for his own solo releases, Andre produced an album for Syrian oudist and vocalist Elias Dagher and played percussion and did live dubbing for Benin-born reggae star Majek Fashek. Fashek's album, Little Patience, was certified gold in Ghana and Nigeria and All Music Guide called it a "near perfect album. " He also collaborated once again with Circus, this time producing the two singles from the Shapeshifters' Cornerstone/RAS release ...Was Here. In 2003, he toured the United States on the Mush Spring Tour 2003, playing an opening set and then doing live dubbing of the playback for AWOL One, and Busdriver & Radioinactive as the Weather. Later that year, he toured Europe twice as accompanist for Busdriver. In June of 2004, he set out on the Mush Records Summer Tour, in support of ...Faceless Cowards. The unique combination of hip-hop style DJing and live dub mixing proved popular with hip-hop and electronic kids who were growing tired of the static laptop shows that were becoming so prevalent.

Late 2004 and 2005 was set to be a great period for Asmar. He was looking to wrap up the follow up to Racetothebottom, titled Harmonic Emergency, which he had begun tracking in 2001. He was scheduled to join the Mush Records Fall Tour 2004 tour with Her Space Holiday and Daedelus on October 10. However, on the night of October 8, while in the studio getting tracks ready to take on the road, Asmar was struck by a massive brain aneurysm.

The damage to his brain was quite heavy, costing him the use of the left side of his body and the vision from his left eye. But Asmar had survived hardship before. Back home in January 2005, he enrolled in intense physical therapy and forced himself to get back to work. Long days spent in physical therapy were followed by long nights in his new studio, which he christened the Consecration Station of Nadia al-Um, and later the Transmigration Station. Tracking and mixing progressed slowly at first, as Asmar increasingly turned to music as his therapy.

Most crucial to Asmar was the completion of what became Harmonic Emergency. Between 2001 and 2004, Asmar had recorded 15 tracks that would make up the Harmonic Emergency sessions. Like his previous work with Scientist and Majek Fashek, Asmar felt the need to work with a reggae legend to pay homage to his dub roots. For Harmonic Emergency, he reached out to legendary roots and Niyabinghi vocalist Ras Michael. The track, entitled "We Want U To Know," also finds Asmar working again with Fully Fullwood, who also appears on the tracks "U Too Can Syn," "13," and "Spirit Guides.

While tracking on the album was wrapping up, the second half of work had to begin: mixing. But creating coherent dub mixes following a brain aneurysm proved no easy task. Resident Mush Records everyman Antimc Matthew Alsberg was brought in to give Asmar a hand dubbing and mixing the tracks. The two set out to give Harmonic Emergency an authentic dub sound, full of round low end and heavy drum backbone, while adding an immediacy that is often lacking in typical druggy dub music that would capture the spirit of the album's title, and more importantly portray the simmering restlessness of the world's voiceless. The resulting mixes - almost a year in the making - recall the work of dub legend Mad Professor, who's phase-heavy productions and eclectic source material influenced English electronic musicians from Massive Attack to the Prodigy.

So what does Harmonic Emergency mean? "The message is basically in the title. I'm really friendly to the times of healing. After Racetothebottom, I hit rock bottom along with planet earth. Like the song Grace From The Bottom, the man had to bounce back. Catch a brain injury, running around paralyzed. Basically have to reinvent myself, the way I do things. My whole role in this planet has changed since Race, or at least become more clear to me, what I gotta do."


"I hit rock bottom along with planet earth. Like the song Grace From The Bottom, the man had to bounce back... My whole role in this planet has changed since Race, or at least become more clear to me, what I gotta do."