Stonebwoy says Africans own reggae music, Jamaicans react

Stonebwoy says reggae music belongs in Africa.

Reggae and dancehall will forever be associated with Jamaica, where the genre was created, developed and ultimately marketed to the world. However, one Afrobeats star, Stonebwoy, has raised a hornet’s nest with his comments that reggae does in fact belong in Africa.

The Ghanaian artist reportedly said in a recent interview with The Cable Lifestyle that: “Reggae is rooted in the heart of Africa… It does not belong to any Caribbean society from its core. It belongs to Africans and we benefit from it in various ways.

Stonebwoy explains that Jamaicans are all Africans due to the slave trade, so the genre is really produced in Africa. He added that this applies to all forms of the genre generated from the island, including dancehall.

At least one music insider, Kingsley Goodison, who spoke with the Jamaica Observer, strongly disagrees with his view.

Stonebwoy has proposed that reggae formed in Jamaica at different stages. He explained to me that at first it was ska, then rocksteady, then reggae, and that according to him Africa has nothing to do with it. For him, reggae is intrinsically Jamaican.

Goodison also shared that this isn’t the first time he’s heard other people make statements about reggae.

Goodison is the man who started the Tribute To The Greats in 1998 and has so far honored nearly 200 people, including producer Clement “Coxson” Dodd, former Prime Minister Edward Seaga (a trailblazing producer) and the Australian sound engineer Graeme Goodall.

According to historical records, reggae is a musical genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals titled “Do the Reggay” was the first popular song to use the word reggae .

It became the adopted name for the genre, and from there the world started to take notice. Reggae is a very distinctive style of music that has been heavily influenced by traditional mento as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues and evolved from the earlier genres ska and rocksteady.

It is also deeply linked to the Rastafari religion, which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, aiming to promote Pan-Africanism.

Rapcha The Sayantist, popular Kenyan DJ and reggae publisher, caught wind of the comments and posted, “Africa owns reggae music, not the Caribbean”, to start a conversation on Twitter. He also made sure Stonebwoy was credited for the quote. He also clarified that he believed reggae was indeed Jamaican.

Needless to say, the post drew fiery comments like, “This story is silly and boring. Erasing our Caribbean identity means erasing centuries of experiences specific to this. It’s a Caribbean thing because it was created out of those experiences” and “I’m 100% African but I don’t agree with that, Jamaicans are far better in terms of reggae music, the only African I personally know whose music could be compared to Jamaicans was Lucky Dube.

Some have agreed that since Jamaicans are descendants of Africans, then by default reggae is African.

Stonebwoy, once hailed by Beenie Man as the prince of reggae, is known for combining reggae and dancehall with traditional African rhythms. He worked in Jamaica as recently as last year and even performed at Reggae Sumfest in 2018.

The African dancehall artist also said he has worked with many Jamaican artists including I-Octane, Kabaka Pyramid, Sean Paul, Agent Sasco and Sizzla.

We think he got it wrong on this one, though. What do you think? Is reggae Jamaican or African?

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