Veteran reggae producer, Willie Lindo, is saying what 18 Karat Reggae has been saying for a long time, foreign reggae is outdoing Jamaican reggae. The only difference is Willie Lindo did not discuss the elephant in the room, the way 18 Karat Reggae did.
“I have a little Oxford Dictionary that says ‘Rasta is a member of a Jamaican sect…’ while reggae is a ‘West Indian style of music’ — not Jamaican. But a phase out system a gwaan. I understand that there is a global financial crunch, but Jamaican acts and musicians are getting fewer and fewer shows compared to their non-Jamaican counterparts. Even if the foreign acts come to Jamaica to put on a show, they don’t want local musicians to work with,” Willie Lindo said.
“Just like what dem a do with Japan Splash, a mostly Japanese artistes on it, no Jamaican nuh deh pon it. Maybe they might carry a one man now and then. But even most of the major international reggae shows have very few Jamaican acts and, to the best of my knowledge, some artistes are paying to go on some show. And they are not being treated nice,” he continued.
Lindo, who migrated to the United States in the 1980s, said the ‘plot’ also plays out on the Billboard reggae chart.
“Look at the reggae charts, you see who inna the top? A pure foreign people. So tell me, one Jamaican can’t make one reggae song that can go to the top of the charts?” he asked.
According to sales tracker Soundscan, American bands Rebelution and SOJA have the best-selling reggae albums on Billboard. British singer Joss Stone and Hawaiian band Iration are also up in the top ranks.
The sole Jamaicans among this group are Bob Marley and Grammy-nominated Jah Cure. The number one album, Anthems, is by American band Christafari.
“This sends a message to the Jamaican artistes and musicians like they’re not doing something right. Like they must reshuffle dem deck and come again. So you find the youths doing crossover reggae tracks to get noticed. So we leave our roots and doing other stuff, then you have international acts like Matisyahu doing the straight, hardcore reggae,” he said.
The producer of songs like Dennis Brown’s Love Has Found Its Way and Maxi Priest’s Wild World, Lindo said if Jamaican acts get proper promotion they will achieve lofty heights.
“Give Jah Cure and Chronixx the right promotion and you see what happens. Just like what Chris Blackwell did with Bob Marley,” he said.
Lindo said the Jamaican Government should register the word reggae as an authentic Jamaican genre.
“Reggae is a powerful music with a message. It has outlived the other genres and we should embrace it and protect it.”