Wed | Feb 21, 2018

Kelly's World | Reggae is reggae, just enjoy it and done!

Published:Monday | February 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Ziggy Marley
Audience members dancing during Freddie McGregor's set at Negril Reggaefest.

Jamaica is truly an extraordinary island.

Apart from the obvious beauty of the hills, mountains, valleys and beaches, it just seems like we always do things better than other countries.

Look at the fact that Jamaica is the birthplace of ska, mento, reggae and dancehall, four distinct musical genres.

But this being Reggae Month, I think I'll talk about reggae this week.

I've noticed over the years that Jamaicans, particularly, but not exclusively, reggae/dancehall artistes, complain bitterly that 'white man tek ova reggae'.

They point to the fact that on the musical charts (at least on the ones they know people always look) the reggae acts selling big are not Jamaicans.

And when it's music awards time, the criticism gets even louder, figuratively and literally.

Among the nominees for the reggae Grammy this year were J Boog (who is from California of Polynesian descent), SOJA (a band of white dudes from Virginia), and California reggae band Rebelution.

No, I'm not a music insider, nor am I an expert on anything dealing with music. I can tell you the title and performer of a few tunes that were before my time, but as to offer 'solutions' to the fact Jamaican reggae acts are being outsold, I can't help you.




But here's my thing. Why do we need to 'reclaim' reggae? We brought it to the world and the world embraced it and dem a run wid it. And for me that's great.

Remember the Canadian band Magic! who did buss weh like 'bajie' kite with their song Rude? That's easily one of my favourite songs of all time and it was definitely a reggae tune.

Even the most anti-North American people I know rock to that song; they don't give a hoot as to who the singer is.

And the thing is, if you do that song in any other genre, I can almost guarantee it wouldn't sound as good.

There's something about reggae that just connects with people of different races, backgrounds and creeds. And it's for that reason that I'm not bothered in the least if 'white man' tek it ova.

Music is music. And if someone, regardless of skin colour, is doing a particular genre and doing it well, so what?

Now, if the argument is that young reggae artistes aren't getting a chance to show what they can do, then that's another matter.

And again, there are others who can give you better insight into what young artistes have to go through to get recorded, and to get bookings.

But I've heard entertainment industry players say that reggae, as done by locals, hasn't really evolved.

Some will argue that the reggae of your father and grandfather does sound different from the reggae of today.

I think some Jamaicans still believe reggae songs should focus on fighting against the system and burning down Babylon.

In fairness, that's the root of the genre. And those sentiments remain valid and relevant today.

But there has been some tweaking of the genre, hasn't there? So why not just try going with the flow?

Just enjoy the music, folks, a dat it deh deh fah! Later.

- Rock with me at