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January 9, 2002

Recently I was listening to the Irie Jam and I heard of an upcoming round table on the state of reggae music. Well Iím not a producer nor am I a singer but I do have a lot to say on my observation of how the music is progressing or not progressing. 

First off I will lay a scenario on you and tell me how this affects the state of reggae. Consumersí pays $40 or $50 for a reggae event. Consumers gets to event, expecting to hear lots of music, but instead gets a lot of talking, even over the few good music that was played, it's show time and a refuge of DJís are on stage (acting like they are mike-starved, and trying to get out of a warring land), each one trying to get the mike and, in the end a DJ turning his back on the consumers who paid their way and starts to curse the security. Consumersí tune in to radio and all the consumers is hearing is how historic the event was and when the next event will take place. Now tell me this do you think the consumer got the better part of that deal?

So if we want to know about the state of reggae music, we have to first look at ourselves, and be honest. Tell the truth when a show is not what is should be. Donít come on the air telling about how wonderful the show was when it wasnít. If the show was advertised as a refuge show, then consumers would have come expecting to stand still and watch to see who is going to grab the mike first.

We need to go back to the dancehall and learn what was going on. People went in the dance hall to dance, not to stand still because the selector and the DJ are abusing the mike. If a selector with a set, is talking about how long they are in the business then they should also know that when people pay money to come to an event they should get their moneyís worth. If they have music to play, play it. Try something new. Let the music play. Lose the mike. The consumers will actually enjoy that, especially when that is what they are expecting. Could all of this be part of the reason why we have to be wondering about the state of reggae?

So if I were on this roundtable I would want these issues or questions addressed.

  • Why does the on air personality use his or her power to influence the direction of the music negatively or positively?


  • To the producer, singer/Dj how many people do we need to re-sing, in the same way, the latest song from America?


  • Whatís up with the N word? Use a dictionary.


  • To the DJ/ singer is your song content so limiting that we have to hear the same subject from every single singer/DJ?


  • Producer and on air personalities, whatís the rush to sign on major label when we donít even have the discipline to work on a minor label?


  • On air personalities, did reggae music only came about in the 90ís? Mix up the selection.


  • Who in the Jamaican community is researching and documenting the music? Please donít tell me that London is calling.


  • What has happened to the universality of the music? It was understandable by others outside of Jamaica? Now we have limited airplay, limited acceptance, and limited understanding.


  • Why waste money to go into a studio and produce something that is a waste of time and a pollutant to the environment?


  • Why go into a studio every week to produce a song on everybodyís label? Where is the economics behind that? Ever heard of supply and demand?


  • Why go into the studios, produce a good body of work, but do not spend time promoting it because in six months time, there is another body of work on the shelves?


  • Whatís the rush to sing with this one and that one? Are you legally covered? Do you own the rights to your music? Or do you just want to hear your name get big up? Take the time to create something for yourself.


  • A suggestion, start producing less and learn the business of copyrighting, distribution and quality control.


  • Event promoters, why do we need to have 200 performers on a show with 100 bands, in a union hall (3 hour show), charging too much money, early performers getting their time, and headliner getting 15 minutes or less, and is forced off stage because time is up?


  • Who in the reggae population is going to stand up to the singers/Dj s and tell them that they are not disciplined? Is there a connection to the fact that mainstream radio will quickly get a non-Jamaican to spin their music?


  • Is there a fear of getting others to write materials? Every performer is not a writer and a singer.

So please when this round table convenes, please be honest. Call the cards for what they are. Be offensive if you have to be. We are already offended that other people have more control over our heritage than we do. Let the airwaves be the schoolroom where we can teach, learn and reclaim our heritage that is surely (but slowly?) slipping out of our hands.

Mi deh yah now!



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