Photos from Maka Foundation

Southampton’s original Reggae Soundsystem From 1979

Maka Foundation played a significant part in the Sound System culture for over 40 years, is recognised as Southampton’s premier and most accomplished Reggae sound systems and a staple of the local music scene since its inception in 1979. First known as Jamaka Hi-Fi then Maka Hi-Power before becoming Maka Foundation in the early 90’s.

The group was founded by Wayne Salmon (Smiley), Joe Salmon (Skippy), and Tony Campbell (T.C), with Deminico Picariello as the engineer and speaker box designer. As the group evolved, it attracted interest from the community and welcomed lifelong members like Sunhil Sharma (Briggy Mix), Terry Rodgers (Digniterry) and reggae sound system MC & lyrical micmaster, Richard Clark (Rugged Richy) joined in the mid 80’s

The group’s early days were marked by gatherings at one of the member’s houses, where they would experiment with sound and music. These sessions laid the foundation for the influential group they would become. They learned a lot from other sound systems around at the time, such as African Blood and Majesty, attending their performances and observing their techniques.

As Maka Foundation developed, they experienced rivalries with other sound systems, both within Southampton and in other cities. These rivalries often culminated in memorable sound clashes, a significant aspect of sound system culture.

Maka Foundation’s contributions to the music scene extend beyond live performances. They were part of an exhibition recognizing the impact of Jamaican music on culture, particularly focusing on the untold story of the Southampton Blues Parties of the 70s and 80s, as part of a Black History Month event. The group has a collection of photographs taken at the West Indian club and other venues, capturing the evolution of the sound system and the different people who have been part of it over the years.

The group has also commissioned special recordings from artists. These are versions of popular tracks where the artist mentions Maka Foundation Sound System, adding a unique touch to the music and promoting the sound system. Maka Foundation has a SoundCloud account where they share audio recordings. This account primarily features Briggy Mix’s selections of reggae records.

Maka also contributed to the city’s celebration of the sound system culture in 2019.

This exhibition recognised the impact that Jamaican music has had on culture and explores its past, present and future, with special focus on the untold story of the Southampton Blues Parties of the 70s and 80s. The exhibition was devised by Don John and together with archival materials and contemporary artist Gerard Hanson explored the story and impact of Jamaica and Jamaican-influenced music on British culture, particularly through the story of the ‘Shebeens’ or ‘Blues’ clubs in Southampton.

There was a free evening of celebration and affirmation with an exhibition preview, a film screening of Mykaell Riley’s ‘Bass Culture’,and a special blues party hosted by MAKA foundation, Southampton’s leading reggae sound system since 1979. Bass Culture is the first Arts and Humanities Research Council award to the Black Music Research Unit at the University of Westminster. It takes the form of a three-year project exploring the impact of Jamaican and Jamaican-influenced music on British culture. Covering the period from the 1960s to the present day, the research explores the profound ways in which the island’s music remade popular music in Britain – and was fundamental in the emergence of multiculturism in the British cities and the redefinition of the post-colonial nation.

Over the years, Maka Foundation has been involved in a number of events and festivals that have contributed to the vibrant music culture of Southampton. They have been featured at the Carnival Garden Party at SoBar, where they took over for the after-party. They also participated in the Re:Claim Street Festival in Southampton, where they were part of a sound “battle” showcasing the city’s best Caribbean-influenced sound systems.

The group’s history is a testament to their dedication to reggae music and the sound system scene, marking them as a significant cultural group in Southampton.


NEWSQUEST JEZ GALE (first published 8th June 2016)