It seems like such a long time ago a lot of people might not even remember that Jamaica at one point had its own music awards. It was called the Jamaican Music Awards but like everything else, Jamaicans put their own spin on it and called it the Jammys.
The Jammys was supposed to give full recognition to Jamaican music performers in recognition of our own, instead of depending on foreigners to honor us. If the Jammys is still around, it might as well not be, unless someone can tell me who won the Jammy for the best album last year.
The Jammys was hot for a while but then it died down because of a lack of support from the artistes who still pined for a Grammy Award and, with a few exceptions, stayed away from the presentation shows.
The sad this is, a lot of these artists that did not support the Jammys are the ones crying foul now because the less talented Marleys keep winning. But that’s the behavior of Black people in general, not in Jamaica and not only in music. We never support our own. We have been brainwashed to believe that whatever the white man has is better than ours. With that thinking, we prefer to sit at the white man’s table waiting for crumbs rather than bake our own bread. Then we whine and complain when we think the white man did not allow enough crumbs to fall off the table for us or if the crumbs falling from the table are not being divided fairly among ourselves.
We cannot continue to measure our talent and success through white people eyes. Let’s face it, Bob Marley is the king of reggae not because he was the most talented reggae artist but rather because he was the most accepted amongst whites. But we try to ignore the elephant in the room and pretend as if his acceptance his not partly because of his white father. Bob Marley is the king of reggae for the same reason Barack Obama became the first Black president. If Obama’s mother was not white, he would be just another Black name added to the list of Black candidates who ran for the presidency, which includes: Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Alan Keys, Carol Moseley Braun, Herman Cain and Ben Carson. I say all of that to say this, if you are looking for white validation then you better know that the darker you are the more disappointed you will be.
It is full time for the reggae and dancehall community to abandon the Grammy and go back to the Jammys. Maybe we should even stop referring to it as the Jammys. If we choose not to, then we will have to stop complaining when average or below average reggae artists gets nominated or even win over the top flight artists. Only a handful of artists have ever beat out a Marley to win a Grammy; Shabba Ranks when he was at the top of his game, Shaggy when he had the super hit “bombastic”, Inner Circle with the album by the same name as their classic song “Bad Boys” and Jimmy Cliff who is the original pioneer of reggae, won with “Cliffhanger”.
On the other hand, the Marleys have won in back to back years and even won with different versions of the same album. Judging from the following Marleys victories, you would think the Marley combined have more classic albums than Beres Hammond and Sizzla combined:
1989 Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers for the album Conscious Party 1990 Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers – One Bright Day 1998 Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers – Fallen Is Babylon 2002 Damian Marley Damian Marley — Half-Way-Tree 2006 Damian Marley — Welcome to Jamrock 2007 Ziggy Marley — Love Is My Religion 2008 Stephen Marley — Mind Control 2010 Stephen Marley — Mind Control – Acoustic 2012 Stephen Marley — Revelations Pt 1 — The Root of Life 2014 Ziggy Marley — In Concert 2015 Ziggy Marley — Fly Rasta 2017 Ziggy Marley – Ziggy Marley The observation made about the numerous Marley wins is posited not in celebration of their genius or that it is well-deserved, but framed in the context of that supposed bias towards the Marley brand.
Hopefully Jamaican artists have learned to not sit around waiting for validation from the white establishment but to start building our own. If we fail to do so, our children’s children will be doing the same thing we are doing today, complaining, “It is not fair how THEY are treating US.”