Fri | Sep 21, 2018

Dancehall's lyrical content is not for everybody

Published:Tuesday | September 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Gussie Clarke.
Edward Seaga
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Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga has publicly expressed his distaste for modern dancehall music. Declaring himself a man more attune to melody, Seaga believes that if it cannot be whistled, it is not music.

"He's right," Delroy Pottinger told The Gleaner.

Pottinger is a well-decorated studio engineer at the legendary Anchor Studios. His profile is impressive and extensive, having worked with world-famous acts like Jimmy Cliff, Steel Pulse, Third World and Sinead O'Connor. He agrees that there is a disparity between an older generation's perception of dancehall music and their contemporaries, and posits that perhaps that variance is catalysed in modern melodies and lyrical approach.

"In terms of modern dancehall, more slangs are involved and we have less melody. Some of the melodies, people can't take on to it so easily. When you think about Sean Paul, he has a melodic structure that you can sing along to," he said.

 

Matter of representation

 

In addressing lyrics, Pottinger said: "What dancehall represents now is sex and violence. That's how it is. There isn't anything wrong with it, but the lyrical content is not for everybody. Jamaican music like rocksteady and ska was happy music."

Founder of Anchor Studios Gussie Clarke, admits that there has been a change in both the presentation of dancehall and perception of the term itself.

"Now, we have dancehall music. Before now, you had a dancehall space," he told The Gleaner. In the same breath, Clarke agreed that Seaga's opinion should not be discarded.

"Musically, we were more creative as people in the earlier days, versus now. One of the key elements to that is that we were collaborating. And that brought innovation. The innovation is not that abound, or comparable as it was then. A lot of people are not remembering that what made us great was the collaborations," the veteran producer continued.

Clarke recalled a time when musicians verse in various instruments would gather in a studio space.

"We had much more musicians then. We could have six to eight different musicians in a studio putting things together. Rather than now, we have people who understand how to use the technology.

"And though they are doing well, it's not innovative anymore. We were able to create multiple genres of music because we were innovative," he said.

As Clarke sees it, innovation has been replaced by an individualistic approach. "There is new factor where it's 'my studio, me ah engineer' ."

Pottinger said: "It's a change in the world, and we have to accept it as it goes. It's the future. We have to work with it, enhance it, and make the best productions."