In the four decades since it’s opening, Tuff Gong International has evolved from the nascent idea of a label distributing records from a tiny shop in downtown Kingston, to a flourishing global brand. Its story must be an inspiration and an example to artists worldwide.
Located at 220 Marcus Garvey Drive, Tuff Gong is one of the most iconic record manufacturing plants in the world, and one of the largest state-of-the-art facilities in the Caribbean. There are very few rooms anywhere that have played home to as many musical luminaries as this hallowed ground. Fuentes in Medellin, Cosimo Matassa’s studio in New Orleans or perhaps the Egrem Studios in Havana are the only studios that could even lay claim to the legacy housed there. And you can taste it the moment you set foot inside.
Formerly Federal Records built by Ken Khouri in 1961, and taken over by Bob Marley in the mid 1970’s, some of Jamaica’s most memorable and powerful music was captured to tape there. Just think of a name you love in Jamaican music and trust they have cut tracks at Tuff Gong. The recording studio has been booked by an A-list roster of artists over the years including Lucky Dube, Lauryn Hill, Steel Pulse, Capleton, Spragga Benz, Jimmy Cliff, Gregory Isaacs, Bounty Killer and countless others.
Imagining Bob Marley recording hits such as “No Woman, Nuh Cry,” “Trenchtown Rock,” and “Buffalo Solider” in the studio evokes the magical play of call and response, the spirit of improvisation, and the intellectual machete of reasoning as sweet melodies create the classics we have come to love. This is the spirit of survival the fittest where legends live.