Cocoa Tea asks 'Weh Di Reggae Deh?'
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Cocoa Tea is very upbeat about the progress of his single, A Love Like Yours and Mine, even as the title of the upcoming album from which it is taken expresses his concern about reggae in general.
He is thinking of releasing his next full-length set, Whe De Reggae Deh?, to piggyback on performances in London for next year's Olympics. This is as he says, currently A Love Like Yours and Mine "a gwaan bad! A gwaan terrible!"
In the lover's rock song, Cocoa Tea tells his partner:
'A love like yours and mine
Woman is so very hard to find
It's like the ray of the midday sunshine
I thank Jah you are mine'
And, as the relationship grows, he asks:
'Let us move along now and make a family
In a little house out in the country
With two children, maybe three'
"It is strictly for the ladies," Cocoa Tea said, placing the new track in the vein of his songs such as She Loves Me Now and Good Life. "It is to get the ladies back in my corner."
However, the overall project 'Whe De Reggae Deh?' speaks to something that he says people are asking about when he does performances outside Jamaica. "Everywhere I go in the world, people ask me where the reggae gone from in Jamaica. People are saying we are trying to export hip hop, rather than import hip hop and export reggae," Cocoa Tea said.
He said the queries have come across Europe, England, the USA and Canada, as well as Japan. "People used to the type of reggae that we sing. It is music that can inspire a people and a nation," Cocoa Tea said. That is in contrast to a lot of music being produced in Jamaica now, which Cocoa Tea said "is about dancing and the riddim."
When he did the Ragamuffin Festival in California last year, the composition of the line-up struck Cocoa Tea. Along with him were Gregory Isaacs, Mykal Roze, Willie Williams and the Abyssianians. "The youngest artiste on the bill was Tarrus Riley," he said.
"I asked where are we going from here? Where are the youngsters to take over from us? Cocoa Tea and Beres and Sanchez can't go on forever," he said.
There is no denying the enduring appeal of those some would now classify as 'veterans'. Cocoa Tea refers to a dance he did in Manchoniel, Portland, as well as Reewind in New York, recently. "The show block - young people, old people, everyone is there," he said of the latter.
However, despite the grim outlook, Cocoa Tea says "all is not lost as far as I am concerned. Is we have to teach the younger generation. The world we are on now is about trading. We have to trade reggae - import hip hop and export reggae. We a try the opposite, import reggae and export hip hop, because some of the biggest name me know about in reggae is from abroad."
Among the other songs on the 14-track Whe De Reggae Deh? album are Beat the Drum, Crazy, Sufferation, White Squall and Press Freedom, the last about the payola situation and the Broadcasting Commission. For now, though, he is pushing A Love Like Yours and Mine.
"I am slated to perform during the London Olympics 2012. I would like to release the album around that time, to make sure it tap into that," he said.