Afro Journey of Ron Trent
Ron Trent has been synonymous with the Afro Sound since the mid 1990s, as he is considered one of the pioneers of infusing Afro Beat into dance music. Growing up with a heavy influence of percussion in his music repertoire, the use of congas and hand percussion was second nature in his production. Spiritual Jazz, Blues Rock, Brazilian Jazz and Afro Beat were big proponents in Ron’s cultural upbringing. The likes of Fela Kuti, Roy Ayers, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, and Azymuth to name a few, were artists from whom Ron Trent drew his influences. Coming from a Pan Africanist world -view prospect, Ron’s approach to music as a DJ and producer has always been rooted in the connection to Africa and the influence of diverse tributaries birthed from African music in the world.
Around 1994 Ron started to incorporate his first instrument, the conga drum, into his productions. This led way to developing a specific sound of his own that he is known for today. Unconsciously pioneering the Afro House of today along with the likes of Timmy Regisford, Joe Claussell, Kerri Chandler, Jerome Sydenham, Masters at Work and Francois K., a movement was created. Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Tony Allen, and Femi Kuti have largely been respected on the dance scene all the way back to beginnings of dance culture at the Loft with David Mancuso and further into the Paradise era. Playing Fela songs amongst a wide array of musical formulas was natural for the underground dance culture. Hearing a Fela song right next to Larry Heard or Santana were an elemental formula that DJs and dancers alike were open to. Ron started building a forum for African based sound with his party 'African Blues', which started in Chicago around 1995.
He later brought it to NYC in 1997 for a special MKL celebration with DJ Joe Claussell and an additional live performance by Jephté Guillaume and Boukman Eksperyans, cementing Ron’s connection to presenting world music on a wider scale. By now, Ron also became highly regarded in the Japanese market for the Afro sound, using it in various forms of propaganda to promote Fela’s legacy.
The very first launch party of 'Jump N Funk', spearheaded by Wumi, Debra Seely, and Rich Medina, was done with Ron Trent in collaboration with his weekly residency at Giant Steps sessions NYC, held at the Shine nightclub on West Canal Street. 'Jump N Funk' went on to being known as the party championing the conscience of Afro Beat and its founding father Fela Kuti. As post-9/11 aftermath affected the social climate of NYC, Giant Step Sessions were ceased in 2003.
Ron then joined forces with Sonia Hassan to birth a new Afro Beat inspired event called 'AFRICA HI-FI', introducing a musical concept to Chicago that had not been present since Ron’s previous years with African Blues. With consistency, Ron and Sonia created a brand which elevated the awareness of World music and flavors from around the world, inspiring others to start events and produce music inspired from Fela and his Son and the sound that Ron helped spawn in previous years: the heavy driving rhythms, percussion and revolutionary spiritual vocals.
Ron’s production work is reflective of his connection to the Afro Beat sound, notably his remixes and original work with Tony Allen, remixes for Seun Kuti’s 'Dem Eyes' and for the late great Papa Wemba. Various releases including DJ compilations started in 2000 with the release of 'Urban Afro Blues' on Nite Grooves and later 'Abstract Afro Journey', which were critically acclaimed “must haves”. Ron Trent has also been the opening DJfor several Femi Kuti shows since 2000 starting in New York. This story continues to be written as there is host of many things to come, with more events and music connecting the dots.