Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Reggae artiste Lutan Fyah is demanding that foreigners pay homage to Jamaican music industry players.
According to the artiste, reggae and dancehall music have been copied and replicated in several countries; however, language barriers conceal the high level of infringement endured by Jamaican genres.
Reggaeton is perhaps the most popular international genre which borrowed identifiable sounds from dancehall music. The drums and bass-lines of reggaeton consistently resemble those of '90s hit dancehall rhythm Dem Bow, which was produced by iconic record producer Bobby Digital. Shabba Ranks' song of the same name is the most notable track on the rhythm.
However, is Bobby Digital known as the father of reggaeton? According to Lutan Fyah, many people don't know the history behind Jamaican music and many simply don't care to.
"These guys take the Dem Bow rhythm and make an entire genre from it. Some of these artistes and producers sell out their culture because they want to get popular and go into different markets. But these guys that are stealing our music should come to Jamaica and come sing pon real dancehall and reggae rhythms and nuh stay abroad and collaborate and take away things, 'bout yu a give man exposure. The people in reggae and dancehall need to go back and learn dem roots tuh," a concerned Lutan Fyah said.
When contacted, a seemingly ill Bobby Digital told The Gleaner that imitation is the best from of flattery. He also believes he will get his just reward in due time.
"Yu see music, wi love it in such a way that when yu see somebody with yu pattern, yu see that you did something right or else other people wouldn't want to pattern off it. The world nuh stop yah suh and from yu get yu props one day it muss pay off," he said.
However, Lutan Fyah is of the view that respect must, at all times, be paid to Jamaican music, since no hybrid could exist without the original.
"It shows that your work a shot, yes. But when they take our thing as theirs and we don't have a copyright to show ownership, that is theft. Reggaeton is big right across the world, but many people are of the view that it does not have anything to do with us," he said.
The artiste also said some foreign countries have even gone as far as to create replicas of dominant dancehall artistes like Bounty Killer and Beenie Man.
He revealed that these fake Beenie Mans and Bounty Killers have been performing songs from the artistes in their own language, whether it be Japanese or other, and they are known to pull thousands of patrons to festivals, while the original acts remain grounded in Jamaica.
The reggae artiste, who recently returned from a European tour, revealed that there now exists hybrid forms of reggae, such as Hawaii reggae and South American reggae.
These genres, he says, have borrowed some elements from the original genre and have developed strong fan bases. The artiste also believes that the Jamaican music industry is losing out due to immense replication of the genres by other countries.
"Europe has hundreds of festivals, and when you go there only 10 per cent of the artistes are Jamaicans. When you go to Europe as big reggae artiste, you are not even given a night line in most cases, you are often crammed in small buses while the European artistes are given huge buses and allowed to travel with their entire band," he said. Lutan Fyah says he has no problems with fans of Jamaican music as it relates to their decision to practise the genres. However, they should show common courtesy and give due respect to the original creators because they are losing out on valuable opportunities.
In 2012, international appliance company Sony came to Jamaica to launch an audio line. According to Rene Morales, Sony's Caribbean senior sales manager at the time, the speakers used on their entertainment systems were modified to deliver more bass because Caribbean music is bass driven.
However, upon inspecting one of the entertainment systems which were being introduced to the Jamaican market, it was noticed that reggae was not used as a factory setting option, but was instead replaced by reggaeton.
Several dancehall and reggae songs have also been sampled or remade by reggaeton producers and artistes without the knowledge of the original creators.
Songs such as the platinum-selling Murder She Wrote, originally performed by Shakka Demus and Pliers, and Hold You by Gyptian are just two of many.
Lutan Fyah is working on a new album with Bread Back Productions, Tashai Music Productions and VP records. That album will be titled Get Rid A Di Wicked.