Roger Steffens: Leader of the Hippies who killed the potency of Reggae.

Roger Steffens
Roger Steffens

If you listen to mainstream American media, Roger Steffens is akin to a god when it comes to reggae knowledge. He is the know it all of the music that was created in the ghettos of Jamaica. Thanks to not only Jamaicans, but the laziness of Blacks in general, Black stories are always recorded and told by whites to suit their own agenda.

The Huffington Post refers to Roger Steffens as a “Reggae Encyclopedist” and even go as far as to say that “If you know anything about the world of reggae music, you know the name, Roger Steffens”. So for all the youths in Jamaica who can quote every lyrics from the likes of Chronixx, Jah Fenixx, Protoje, Mr. Bertus, Sizzla and Boom Viniyard; they know nothing about the world of reggae, because as sure as the sun will shine, the majority of them do not know the name Roger Steffens.

Roger Steffens has written six books on the “history of reggae” but all six are mainly focused on Bob Marley. Forget about the players of instruments who played this music we have come to know as reggae. Forget Winston Grennan who created the “one drop” rhythm that Bob Marley recorded so many songs on including a song by the same name. Forget about the other band members who played for the Wailers but got little financial benefit as they were classed as “work for hire” after Bob’s death. Forget about Jimmy Cliff who is actually the first pioneer to take reggae music worldwide.

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If it was up to Roger Steffens and his hippie followers, the world “reggae” would just be replaced with “Bob Marley”. Seriously, leave it up to them and few years from now, the genres of music from Jamaica will be; mento, ska, rocksteady, Bob Marley and dancehall.

It is one thing that Steffens and the hippies act if Bob Marley is bigger than the reggae genre itself, but they have also weakened the message of Bob’s music. Bob Marley’s lyrics have become so weak that lyrics from “Ambush in the night” and “Top Rankin’” might as well have been:

Kumbaya mi lawd, kumabya
Kumbaya mi lawd, kumabya
Kumbaya mi lawd, kumabya
Oh Lawd! Kumbaya

So the potent message of reggae that was meant to be a supplement to the teachings of Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan and many other great freedom fighters has been reduced to what the oppressors want it to be. As Bob Marley said:

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They say what we know is just what they teach us
And we are so ignorant that every time they can reach us

This is exactly what is playing out today. The good thing is, there is a lesson to be learned, if you are too lazy to tell your own story, someone will tell it for you in their own interest. Of course Bob Marley deserves a lot of credit for the progress of reggae, but so does the other Wailers and so does the other reggae greats, even if both their parents are as Black as over 90% of the Jamaican population.

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9 Comments

  1. great …Another shallow National Enquirer style headline to fan the flames of racial discord. Roger Steffens passion and knowledge for reggae goes way beyond bob. He should be heralded for the history he has preserved not derided for his lack of melanin. One love is an original Rastafari idea not a hippy kumbaya one, and was supported by the words and works of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1st who deplored the classifications of Race, racial discrimination/intolerance and “petty prejudice”. Respect to Roger for his years of good works. In the future try getting to know people before making sweeping generalizations. a

  2. Yet another incredibly uninformed and moronic article by this dip shit. It’s rather ironic that he penning an article about knowledge, reggae knowledge in this instance and the article is void of all knowledge. Roger has done more to promote and recognize the players of instruments and every seminal artist outside of Bob than nearly anybody else. You mention the yout of JA don’t know him. Well they also don’t know Peter Tosh. And they certainly don’t know Israel Vibration or Culture. Just like you they are completely ignorant of history.

  3. I’d guess that about 99.9% of his reggae collection is comprised of artists not named Bob Marley. Bob happens to be his favorite artist, though Alton Ellis is his favorite pure singer. You may not like what Roger is about, but the singers and players that he has promoted through the years certainly apprecialove his efforts. I know because I have seen him interact with them. Titans of roots reggae music. Pictures and videos bear this out as well. While American radio basically banned reggae, Roger was tirelessly promoting it in the late 1970s through today. A lot of good articles and perspectives on this 18karatreggae, but this one is way off.

  4. This is the 2nd bad article I’ve seen on this site in recent months, the last promoting racism and hate towards whites, why all the hating i wonder. Anyone who knows about Rogers work knows he’s not just about Bob and has done more to promote Jamaican Reggae artists in the USA than anyone i can think of, great to see the thanks he gets from a so called Reggae website.

  5. I cant think of one person in the world who made me personally want to buy reggae music see as much live reggae concerts and travel to Jamaica than Roger. For years his radio show had more Jamaican artists come sit in studio and get a chance to speak to the people. I not only wanted to become a radio dj like Roger and have for almost 20 years played Reggae. Influential. With his magazine the Reggae and African beat- it educated me not just about Reggae but opened so many musical roads from Africa. Teacher
    Has this writer even met Roger?

    One of the things ive learned about Reggae is that without respect for each other we have nothing -someone who has respect is the person that makes the music grow not just here but around the world.

  6. Wow how uninformed this article and author are, obvious!y he didn’t do any research or he would know that Peter Tosh was his favorite Wailer, or he would know about his archives which include priceless items given to him by the likes of Joe higgs, bunny wailer, burning spear etc or how he bits up the entire reggae community from the rare amazing works of lesser known artists to the current crop if JA artists,,,, people have offered him a fortune for his archives, his lives works but he won’t sell because those people wont feature it all together…. He himself told me personally he believe his archives belong in JA intact in a museum…. Whoever wants to buys it would probably only feature the Bob Marley stuff and that’s and lock up the rest so he won’t sell… Dude is far from some kumbaya hippy…get your facts straight…

  7. I understand (overstand) the concern about foreigners taking over or “colonizing” the music of Jamaican people and twisting it into their own thing. That is a reality. But Roger Steffens does not write for Black people or intend to tell their stories for them (And as a matter of fact, his books usually have Jamaican interviewees speaking for themselves). He’s writing for the giant population of mostly white, middle class American consumers of reggae music that were the major source of revenue for the veteran Jamaican artistes. These white reggae fans had every right and reason to offer their thoughts and opinions to each other about the music they were buying and going to see live shows of. If Steffens has had a wider impact than Jamaican writers (or even Black American writers) on the subject, it’s simply because the population of fans he was writing for is a whole lot larger in numbers. How many Jamaican artistes do you think you will find who are disgruntled about these white reggae fans buying their music and supporting their livelihood all these decades? Give me a break.

  8. I understand/overstand the concern about foreigners taking over or “colonizing” the music of Jamaican people and twisting it and interpreting according to their own liking. That is a reality. But Roger Steffens is not someone who does that. He’s a good friend and ally of the veteran reggae artistic community of Jamaica. He is respected by and a friend of most of them. His books are also not only about Bob Marley, even tho that’s his subject of particular interest. He has also written plenty about other artists and about the development of the music. But he is of an older generation, and he is also writing for foreign (mostly white American) fans of the music, and catering more to that particular group of reggae consumers (which has by far been the largest group and the biggest source of revenue for Jamaican eggae artists of the early reggae and roots and rockers eras). So that’s why he has had such a wide influence, and also why you may find that younger reggae fans don’t know about him. So go learn a little more next time before you write nonsense.

  9. Pro-Claimer … Roger mi brethren of old

    Mi nah partial fi say … him a goodhearted1 & force of positivity in this world of hurt

    who the misinformed hater write this f-ray? Ya nah know nuttin … ya wan fi accomplish? … help ya self first then ya can help others

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