Yesterday was a bitter sweet day for me. As I went to the Entertainment section of the Jamaican Star I was greeted with an article that the great Tarrus Riley was on the billboard Top 100. No surprise, Tarrus Riley’s voice, lyrics, music and delivery are always on point, so this was expected. Then I read that this was the singer’s firs time on the Billboard top 100 and I almost drop my laptop.
I would have a thought that Riley would have hit the billboard top 100 multiple times, from his album “Parables” alone. The album contains classics like Lion Paw, She’s Royal and Beware. So it is difficult to swallow that none of those songs made it to billboard and am not even mentioning song from his other albums that if they are not as great as Parables, they are pretty close.
Not to be disrespectful, but reggae artists and bands like SOJA, Matisyahu and Rebelution are not worthy to tie Tarrus Riley’s shoe lace when it comes to the quality of reggae music that they put out. Of course, Tarrus Riley being a humble Rasta Man will never say, but me being a brawling bald head will say it ALL DAY: These white reggae bands that are always on the billboard chart, both with albums and singles are nowhere close to Tarrus Riley in talent.
So it begs to ask the question that everyone shies away from, the elephant in the room if you will. Does complexion play a role in reggae’s marketing and marketability? Or it is something else? It can’t be a lack of marketing why Tarrus has never been on billboard before. After all, he was distributed by VP Records; the same label that distributed Sean Paul who has seen the billboard chart multiple times.
Could it be that the reggae fans who can afford to buy the music, only love the music when it is presented by those with lighter complexions? I mean, for all the classic songs Tarrus Riley did and couldn’t get on the billboard chart, but team him up with a few white producers and a white female singer and that did the trick, whoa, he is in billboard.
We have to take success however it comes. However, in order to achieve more success, we cannot ignore what the metrics are telling us. No business can be successful without great data analytics. Right now, the analytics are saying that you need people who are of lighter complexion involved in a reggae project for it to achieve a great level of success. Just look at the most successful reggae distributors, executive producers and producers and you will have your answer loud and clear.
People can lie to themselves, but metrics don’t lie, unless there are human errors involved in putting those metrics together. It is like Jesus and Christianity; Jesus had to be portrayed with blond hair and blue eyes else the majority of Christians today, would have never accepted him.
I will end by saying this: If you are a reggae fan and the album “Parables” by Tarrus Riley is not in your collection, you are really missing out on one of the reggae gems.