Can Jamaica still claim reggae music as its own? | Entertainment
Shereita Grizzle, entertainment writer
Reggae and Jamaica have been inextricably linked since its origins in the 1960s. The musical genre is considered “the heart and soul” of the country’s entertainment landscape and holds an important place in the country’s history. His contribution to the cultural development of the island is significant and cannot be discredited. However, since reggae music has made its way onto the international scene, it has sparked a debate that is still relevant today. Given the emergence of countless non-Jamaican reggae bands, can Jamaica still claim reggae music as its own?
The globalization of reggae has had a negative and positive impact on the island. On the one hand, as a direct result of globalization, the popularity of reggae has grown and continues to do so. The global demand for music has increased due to a connection made through the message of music. This global demand has opened doors to overseas markets for local artists and allowed them to establish careers outside of Jamaica. On the other hand, many argue that because the music has become so prevalent, some of its authenticity has been lost as other artists outside of Jamaica embrace the music as their own. Additionally, many of these non-Jamaican acts have become so popular through reggae music that they end up outselling and outselling local acts.
Copeland Forbes, a veteran music producer and key player in the entertainment industry, weighed in on the matter. In an interview with the gleanerForbes said globalization is not responsible for the decline of reggae
knows the Jamaican industry. He pointed out that Jamaica will always have the real thing, but it’s what the industry does with it that determines its rise or fall. “We are the creators, we will always have the authentic thing and we will always be known for it. We just have to be aware of that fact,” he said. “Because of globalization, everyone wants to copy us, but that’s it: what they have is a replica of reality.”
In one Gleaner column earlier this year, Professor Carolyn Cooper also sought to shed some light on the matter. “So we gave reggae music to the world. But sometimes we act like reggae was stolen from us,” she said, adding that Jamaica doesn’t “own” the music because the genre is also deeply rooted in African history. .
Forbes agreed to some extent. While admitting that reggae was not stolen from Jamaica, he insisted that the genre is uniquely Jamaican as it has become a national marker, something other countries use to identify the country and its culture. He went on to say that the problems started when major players in the industry stopped leading, leaving room for foreign players to pick up the slack.
“We had a strong hold on reggae, but we let it go when we started following up-and-coming artists overseas. They took reggae and transformed it, and all of a sudden we we started doing the same thing, and it created a void for the real thing,” he said.
A void which, he said, has been purposely filled by non-Jamaican reggae bands such as Slightly Stoopid, SOJA, The Green and others. “They saw this void and gave the world what it wanted: real reggae music; and that’s why they outsell our local artists.”
The fact that Jamaica only hosts a few reggae festivals can also be seen as a negative by many. Forbes, however, thinks differently.
“It’s a good thing that most of the big reggae festivals are held overseas, because it creates a lot of opportunities for our local artists. A lot of the artists in these overseas shows are Jamaican, and that makes a lot for our industry when it comes to live performances.”
“A lot of our local artists don’t have a vision. They make music that, in truth, can’t pass through Port Royal disguised as an angel,” he said. “If you look at reggae bands back then – Bob Marley, John Holt, Dennis Brown – the reason the music of these artists is still relevant today is that they created music for the world and not for themselves.” He said, however, that some of the newer reggae acts are well on their way to rebuilding Jamaica’s legacy as the mecca of reggae in the world.
“Chronixx, Protege, Jesse Royal are some of the bands today that look very promising. They have the potential to bring the music back to where it was. It’s just sad that they have to rebuild. They shouldn’t don’t have to; all they should be doing is carrying on an already rich legacy.”
Forbes thinks this new generation of reggae artists may be what Jamaica needs to reclaim its stamp on reggae music. “It may take a few years, but if they continue on this path, reggae can come back to where it was.”