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Protoje blasts Gov’t for not sponsoring his upcoming event

Published:Wednesday | February 20, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Reggae artiste Protoje has described the Government, organisers of Reggae Month, as “dinosaurs” who ignore booking trending conscious artistes to the detriment of developing the music economy.

He also blasted Government for not sponsoring his upcoming event, which he thinks will become the biggest event in February. “People don’t show up and you wonder why? You have to involve the youths dem or you become a dinosaur,” he told students and moderator, Dr Isis Semaj-Hall, at Reggae Talks – an event hosted by the Department of Literatures in English last Thursday, at The University of West Indies, Mona. “Go to the people who have the culture on tap.”

Protoje indicated that neither himself nor other artistes, including Chronixx, Lila Ike or Koffee, were contacted to perform or give feedback at events. Reggae Month was established in 2008 by the Government as a means of honouring the contribution of music to the development of the country. “How come nobody from Reggae Month come to a Protoje or Chronixx. We have the culture on tap. You cannot go around we, and the moment you do that and go around the youths them, like Lila Ike and Koffee, then you put yourself out of relevance,” Protoje reasoned.

Protoje is seen as one of the leaders of a movement dubbed reggae revival or alternative reggae. These artistes are from different classes and parishes, yet create music from a similar ethos based on ’70s reggae/dub with oftentimes 12-bar deejay flows. It is in contrast to other artistes who ground beat in dancehall riddims with 8-bar rhyming schemes. The result is a marketable modern rap-like reggae sound with conscious lyrics.

Protoje also expressed his discontent with Government for its apparent failure to sponsor or support his upcoming concert ‘Matter of Time’, later this month. Protoje explained that over the years, his various events have garnered increased fan support with an ability to now pull more than 5,000 patrons.

“The biggest event for Reggae Month will unquestionably be a Matter of Time Live,’” said Proteje about the concert. “It is like the money just circulating around. But don’t worry, we will do our own thing,”he said.

In 2018, over J$8.7 million in contracts was awarded through the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) for spending on companies involved in public relations, stage event management and Internet marketing for search engine optimisation for Reggae Month, according to database information analysed by The Gleaner from the Office of the Contractor General (OCG). The details for 2019 Reggae Month are not yet uploaded to the OCG. Contrastingly, in 2011, Government was reportedly criticised for spending just $1.5 million on Reggae Month. The Gleaner awaits a response from JCDC up to print time, on 2019 spending.

He continued, “They fund certain set of people. I don’t know who funds Reggae Month. I assume the Government has a role to do with it. But which event of relevance have they kept around here. A some joke thing”.

According to media reports since 2017, the JCDC, an agency of the Ministry of Culture and Entertainment, has taken the lead in organising most of the Reggae Month events from the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, an umbrella group for artistes.