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Is Jamaica still the reggae capital of the world?

Published:Sunday | July 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM
WARRIOR KING
PROTOJE
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Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Arts and Entertainment consultant Lloyd Stanbury is of the opinion that Jamaica has lost its status as the capital of reggae music.

According to Stanbury, there are many countries performing better than Jamaica where reggae music is concerned.

"Jamaica is not the capital of reggae ... various places have claimed to be and they have various reasons to state their claim," Stanbury told The Sunday Gleaner.

Abidjan, the former capital of Cte d'Ivoire in West Africa, is one of the places the consultant mentions.

According to Stanbury, he was conducting a music workshop in the Ivory Coast when he was enlightened by the locals that they were the new capital.

"I was there for a couple weeks to conduct a music workshop and I was invited to go to a live reggae club. During my stay, they told me about some of their artistes who are successful reggae artistes internationally, and because of the success of such artistes they believe they are the capital of reggae," he said.

Bob Marley of Africa

Two of those artistes, Stanbury says who have developed a huge following in the Ivory Coast are Alpha Blondy, hailed as the 'Bob Marley of Africa', and Tiken Jah Fakoly.

Stanbury also took a jab at the local Reggae Sumfest Festival, saying it was neither the biggest nor the greatest reggae show in the world.

"Sumfest is not the biggest reggae show in the world and it is not the greatest in the world either by any means. The greatest reggae shows in the world are in Cologne, Germany, called Reggae Summer Jam, and in Spain, which is Rototom Sunsplash," he said.

According to the consultant, at present Jamaica only satisfies one indication of what could make the area the reggae capital.

"If we were only looking at where the most reggae music is produced per capita then Jamaica would be the capital, but if we are looking at which place has the most reggae available, such as live shows, it would have to be France, and if we are looking at the size of the festivals, it would have to be Germany. Jamaica only has two festivals, which are Reggae Sumfest and Rebel Salute, and one of them is a one-day show, while Ivory Coast can say that they are the capital because they play a lot of reggae and they have produced two of the biggest reggae artistes," Stanbury said.

It is Stanbury's view that one of the failings of the island is the amount of interest in reggae there is.

"We don't value our own things. We devalue our product and allow outsiders to pick them up. As Jamaicans, we prefer foreign things, and that is our problem," Stanbury said.

"When you visit Jamaica, you can't find anywhere for live reggae music, the government and the private sector have not put enough things in place to develop the music, yet the Jamaican government, through the tourism industry, invested US$450,000 with a promoter who was promoting a foreign show to get Celine Dion to perform, and they won't do the same to develop reggae music," he said.

On a more positive note, Stanbury said that Jamaica could reclaim its title as the capital of reggae through the works of emerging talent such as Protoje, Raging Fyah, Rootz Underground, among others.

"I believe reggae is in safe hands for the future with the new youths, but today it doesn't look pretty. Give thanks to Edna Manley (College of The Visual and Performing Arts) for the new reggae bands," Stanbury said.

Reggae artiste Warrior King also shared his view on the topic. According to the artiste, other countries are more accepting of reggae music than Jamaica.

"I heard that France is the capital of reggae, but really and truly real roots reggae is more accepted in France and those places. That is why you find reggae artistes going to those places. I think Jamaica is still the capital because we are the foundation, but reggae music is just more accepted in other places," Warrior King said.