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Quick fix needed for Kingston’s less than impressive cultural retention

Published:Thursday | August 10, 2017 | 12:00 AMCurtis Campbell
Damion Crawford
Drummers provide music for dancers at the Jamaica Africa Dance Arts and Culture Festival at JAMVIlla in Mammee Bay, St Ann.

Kingston is largely seen as the Mecca for Jamaican music, however, in recent times, the parish labelled the creative city by cultural critics, has been losing out where traditional forms of culture is concerned.

Kingston is now said to be focused on the hype, and as such, rural parishes have been carrying the mantle where traditional artforms are concerned.

According to artiste manager--producer Lando Genius: "Kingston is a place where everything you do takes money because the parish is small and over populated. People are competing for resources and even places to live, so a man rather make a quick money than to spend time building and carrying on tradition. That is why you notice even some reggae artistes who are caught up in the fast life are trying to switch from reggae to dancehall because they want the hype and quick cash. When you see Ishawna sey the national fabric is tablecloth, it is no joking matter. that comment echoes the mindset of some youngsters in Kingston," he said.

Even the sound-system culture has been affected by the economic climate in the city, claimed the manager, who said that the most rounded sound systems are based in rural areas.

"If you look at sound clashes, it is sound systems like Red Heat from St Elizabeth, Bredda Hype (also from St Elizabeth), and Bass Odyessy from St Ann that lead the pack because they have a greater appreciation for music. So while the Kingston-based selectors are not building sound systems and are more focused on carrying pouches to events to cut cost and make more money, the youth dem a country a build dem sound system the real authentic way, and they are studying the music. Honestly, if it wasn't for Stone Love, Kingston really couldn't have any bragging rights in the sound-system thing," he said.

Cultural practices like Kumina and bruckings are also scarcely found in Kingston, while rural parishes have made commendable efforts to keep such practices alive, even formally in schools.

Former State Minister for tourism and entertainment Damian Crawford, blames globalisation and urbanisation for Kingston's less-than-impressive cultural retention. He also believes that as rural areas become more developed, they, too, will let go of vintage customs and traditions.

"Country soon ketch up, but that is the nature of globalisation. The most dominant culture will replace the less popular. Kingston has been affected by EDM, soca, hip hop, and a lot of foreign cultures due to cable TV. However, it may have a negative impact because when one tries to have a hand in everything, you will become a Jack of all trades and master of none," he warned.

The former minister also shared that the competitive and booming entertainment industry in Kingston makes it difficult for citizens to focus on keeping traditions alive.

"A man in Kingston has 100 different things to do, while a man in a rural area might have one event per week and has time to practise and appreciate the traditional culture better," he said.