Fri | Dec 15, 2017

The great J’can popular music con

Published:Saturday | September 9, 2017 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
A behind the scene photo from Ishawna's 'Private Mi Page' video shoot.
Alkaline
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There are times when I believe that there is a deliberate collusion between performers of dubious ability and persons of similar dubious ability, determined to publicise Jamaican popular music content - and this includes journalists (print and electronic), radio disc jocks, professional publicists, bloggers and social-media enthusiasts - to conduct The Great Jamaican Dancehall Music Con.

It is a con which consists of, among other elements, focusing on conflict, controversy and confrontation instead of content. Ultimately, this results in an unsustainable burst of publicity for some persons who are supposedly artistes, but who are really con artistes yearning for the slightest public attention by any means. That could be the result of deep-seated low self-esteem, the rinsing of money where a 'producer' claims returns from music that are really from crime, doing it just for the hell of it or just enjoying manipulating public interest for a couple minutes.

Whatever the cause the result is the same - depleting the strength of this cultural product which we stumbled upon and which has global reach and pull.

This is how the con works. Instead of focusing on a song's content - such as topic, lyrical quality, level of production, among other elements - or a performer's stagecraft, the person giving it publicity feeds the public some element that distracts from the woefully substandard quality of that which is being sold to them. If I had a cow for every so-called 'beef' - or conflict - between artistes I have heard of over the past couple years, I could supply a patty producer and have a good stock of cash. I have, happily, lost track of the steady supply of 'controversial' topics which have assaulted the print and electronic platforms, from oral sex to literally masking (as in slapping on some facial covering) rubbish.

And when I look at the Billboard and iTunes reggae charts, when I look at the list of performers at the numerous concerts held outside Jamaica - even when I look at the line-up on the few local shows that are held, I see not a con artiste around. Or they make the list just for a brief time.

If controversy sells, why aren't the con artistes, by and large, gaining consistent traction with the public and promoters at home and abroad?

It must be frustrating, then amusing, and eventually hilarious for those intent on developing good content into a lasting, valuable body of work to see the parade of con artistes come and go. I am still at the stage of finding the waste of time on rubbish infuriating.

And that is my rant and 'trow wud' for this week.

Melville.cooke@gleanerjm.com