Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Our music must evolve - Ibo Cooper

Published:Wednesday | June 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMCurtis Campbell
Musician and educator Ibo Cooper

Chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, Ibo Cooper, in a recent interview with The Sunday Gleaner, said that the music should be allowed to change with time. According to the former Third World band member, if ska changed into rocksteady and rocksteady changed into reggae, who gives purists the right to say that the sound of reggae and dancehall should not change?

Ibo believes the youth must be allowed to add their own flavour to the music industry without being judged by purists and blocked by the self-proclaimed gatekeepers, who sometimes cast the blame for decline in record sales on the new generation.

"We can't be planting the same thing and reaping the same thing. We must not be afraid of change. When ska became rocksteady and when rocksteady became reggae, we were changing. But after a while, we started to say it must go this way. People must know tradition should not be stagnant," he said.

Record producer Stephen McGregor led a change in dancehall music in the early 2000s with unique rhythms like the 'Tremor' and 'Power Cut'. However, as the young producer grew in popularity, many critics complained that the rhythms were not authentic dancehall.

The latter years saw McGregor releasing new rhythms with a more authentic dancehall feel, like the 'Pepper' rhythm, which featured Shabba Ranks.

However, Cooper believe 'Di Genius' should have stayed with his formula.

"Stephen shouldn't have stopped. Anybody who has changed culture always get fight because the people hear it in the context of what they are listening to at the present time, but in the future, it might be the biggest thing. So the real artiste never stops. Him a do him thing. People like Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Niney never cared. Dem man deh were the cutting edge of change in the music and they took criticism, too," he said.




Cooper also said the iconic Third World reggae band endured its fair share of criticism during its formative years. However, its work withstood the test of time and even influenced the direction of reggae as it relates to cadence and sound.

"Some people come into the thing and want to be an authority in it, and that is what keeps it back. Music is infinite and what is coming next, I don't know, because its creativity. How yu a go create if yuh stuck? That was what made Third World different. Some man a purist and dem make the thing stagnant. When Third World came with Now That We Found Love, they called us 'Hollywood Dread', but then Bunny Wailer came with Electric Boogie, and then Peter Tosh came as well. We do not worry about people who want to [remain] stuck, we make music for the world," Cooper said.