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Fix the business of reggae -Rugs wants more from Jamaican music

Published:Tuesday | December 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Monty Alexander
Bunny Rugs proudly displays his Institute of Caribbean Studies Cultural Ambassador Award at the Caribbean American Heritage Awards in Washington, DC, last month.

Jordane Delahaye, Gleaner Writer

Reggae legend William 'Bunny Rugs' Clarke was among a list of notables recently honoured at the Caribbean American Heritage Awards (CARAH) in Washington, DC, for his outstanding contribution to reggae music and the Caribbean American community.

Rugs, the lead singer of the Third World band for 40 years, was presented with the Institute of Caribbean Studies Cultural Ambassador Award.

In his acceptance speech, Clarke said that he acknow-ledged receiving various awards over the span of his career, but said he still regard awards from the Caribbean community as a great accomplishment.

Clarke told The Gleaner he thought Jamaicans appreciated reggae for putting the little island on the map but when it came down to business, the country fell short.

Clarke explained that locally, there was a lack of respect for artistes on a whole, especially when it came to honouring business agreements.

Internationally, he said, reggae and its musicians were lauded and the business aspect of things were much tighter.

It has often been said that Jamaica is suffering from somewhat of a reggae famine and the future of the genre in its home country seems bleak.

Clarke feels that internationally, reggae is only expanding, but locally, the genre has gone underground.

He attributes this to the way the business of music is handled in Jamaica when compared to the international arena.

Clarke admitted to enjoying today's more popular dancehall music and even pointed out artistes like Lady Saw, Bounty Killer and Busy Signal as musicians he liked.

Up-and-comers give hope

The reggae artiste revealed that at one point, he was extremely worried about the future of his own genre.

Lately though, Clarke has seen glimmers of hope in the reggae arena. He acknowledged some of the up-and-coming reggae acts, which are now making their way to the forefront of the music industry.

Even though reggae might not be doing so well in Jamaica at the moment, Bunny Rugs is still playing his part and only recently, released his latest solo album, Time.

Time is the artiste's fifth solo project since becoming a part of Third World. Clarke said it had been doing well abroad; so well, apparently, that the artiste has a busy schedule of promotional tours ahead, which is a first for Clarke, as he revealed that he had never followed up any of his solo albums with a tour before this one.

The album is a product of three years of hard work which saw Clarke collaborating with a slew of great musicians, writers, and producers.

The reggae superstar said the need to do another album partly developed from the need to add to his and Third World's repertoire.

Many of the tracks on the album are influenced by Clarke's relationship with his wife and family, but according to the smooth singer, the album's name was chosen because he felt it was time for certain issues to be addressed both personally and nationally.

The Third World frontman reinforced that Jamaicans must take note of the major contributions the country has made to the rest of the world, especially where music is concerned.

"It feels good to know that such a small nation as ours has done so much with our music and has had such a major impact on the world," Clarke told The Gleaner.

Also honoured at the CARAH Awards were president and chief executive officer of the Information Technology Industry Council, Dean Garfield, who was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Corporate America Award; editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, Constance C.R. White, for Excellence in Journalism; and jazz frontman Monty Alexander, who earned the Luminary Award.