Clash of the genres - Reggae, dancehall artistes play blame game
Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
There is yet another clash of the genres brewing as some reggae and dancehall artistes have come out in defence of their respective genres, while casting blame on the other for the negative light being shed abroad on Jamaica's indigenous music.
Dancehall's duo RDX is of the view that old-school reggae artistes are doing dancehall music a huge injustice abroad. According to the duo, old-school reggae artistes are selling foreigners the idea that dancehall music only offers negativity.
RDX member Delomar claims that journalists have confided in him during interview sessions that some old-school reggae artistes have repeatedly bashed the dancehall genre because they regard it as being inferior to reggae music. The deejay further stated that dancehall music is more successful than reggae in some markets and deserves its fair opportunity to shine.
"When wi go out there in the world and we a do interviews, all we can hear is why dancehall artistes don't like reggae artiste, and we don't know about that. But they are getting their information from the 'reggae man' dem because dancehall a tek over where they are eating their food. So before they embrace it, they fight against it," Delomar said.
The deejay says dancehall has already begun to overrun some markets that were originally dominated by reggae music, however, his wish is for both genres to coexist. The outspoken artiste also claims that reggae needs fresh faces because the veterans mostly appeal to older audiences.
"Me want some of our dancehall artistes fi start duh reggae and draw some a dem young audience deh inna reggae because di man dem wey a sing reggae now only a sing to some old people. It want a youthful exuberance," the artiste said.
Veteran reggae artiste Tappa Zukie, however, told The Sunday Gleaner, that RDX are the ones who have been misled and not the international media. The veteran says old-school reggae artistes are still very much relevant and also reminded the duo that dancehall music was created by the veteran reggae artistes themselves.
In contrast to RDX's view, which placed blame on the veterans, Tappa Zukie believes if segregation really exists between reggae music and dancehall, blame should more so be credited to the youth instead of the veterans.
"King Tubbys was the biggest dancehall sound, and they played both reggae and dancehall music. The conflict is that reggae artistes don't get themselves in much of the negativity that nowadays dancehall artistes get themselves into, but yet we get the same amount of blame because some places in the world view both genres as reggae. Duke Reid and Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd came from dancehall, but the music wasn't so nasty, those days, and I am not saying they were keeping a church," Tappa Zukie said.
The artiste also implied that some dancehall artistes have taken constructive criticism the wrong way because they believe reggae artistes are in a competition with them. He pointed out that all veterans want to see is some positive music from the youth and they would be satisfied.
"For somebody to say reggae wants young faces because veterans are not reaching the youth, is not true. I do music for both old and young people. Reggae music is rebel music for a good cause, but some of these young artistes, the only thing they want to be a rebel for is the bedroom, and if you speak against that, you are the bad guy. But I don't fight no music because both of them feed poor people," Tappa Zukie said.
Government support needed
The veteran also says instead of facilitating segregation, the music industry should unite and force the Jamaican Government to support the music. He said that the music industry does not have the necessary tools to function efficiently and warns that reggae will lose its prominence in Jamaica if the Government does not catch up since places like Europe and the US are already perfecting the production of reggae music.
This is not the first time that a clash of the genres has occurred. In 2012, reggae artiste Warrior King claimed that the young radio DJs were killing reggae because they refused to dedicate segments of their set to the genre. "Dem selector yah a kill the music where it come from. Reggae music is the foundation and it should be included in the juggling like any other genre. A lot of foreigners have been asking me, why when they come to Jamaica they don't hear reggae music? When I am abroad it is different because it is played in the dance hall in Trinidad, California, and Europe," Warrior King told The Sunday Gleaner.
Fast-forward to 2014. Reggae music has somewhat returned to local airwaves, however, the radical difference in the messages perpetuated by both genres will undoubtedly continue to stimulate internal conflict. Hailed as the front runner of the new generation of reggae artistes, Chronixx, was recently cautioned by RDX, in a quite colourful manner, after the singer told a popular television host that he was a big fan of dancehall, however, the current state of the genre was not what he subscribed to.