Mon | Mar 8, 2021

Reggae needs infusion of new energy

Published:Saturday | February 20, 2021 | 12:10 AM


Reggae – the special musical genre from Jamaica has added its compelling presence on the world stage not just for its economic value, but as a branch of refreshing heart-throbbing sound. Just like Jamaican cuisine, reggae has stood out with its own uniqueness and has facilitated different voices from singers, to toasters like U Roy, DJs SingJ’s and rappers.

Unfortunately, like the Jamaican Patois, it’s staunchest and most vocal critics are those who are also Jamaicans. Can anything good come from within? Therefore, the ongoing quest for external validation, almost like a spiritual inertia waiting to hear the world’s verdict on our creations.

Of course, the music has taken a dive in lyrical content that often debases women, promotes vanity and obscenity, while pushing violence and guns. But besides the deviance that has infiltrated the sound, many will still see it as low-class, bugga-yagga, monkey music not fit to air or to entertain the ears of the beau monde class.

It’s funny, that even the prizes that are awarded in the reggae category at the Grammy’s, appear less valuable to most Jamaicans than music in different genres. It’s hard to reconcile the exhibition of self-importance and confidence seen in most Jamrockers coexisting with self-chastisement and ongoing rebuke.

Yet, reggae is an enviable branch of world music – whose packages in sound clashes challenge the reaches and guts of lyrical presentations, where demands for the premier is often epitomised. But ironically, its height is sometimes broken by its own weight and it descends into discord and embarrassment. To appreciate reggae music, one has to separate the creation from the different practitioners, and not blame the product that is often twisted by the medium.


Mount Vernon, New York