The following is written by Aramis and is in response to Jamaican reggae is dying.
The Jamaican music industry took their eyes off the ball in pursuit of a quick profit. I mean, in the 90`s music was spewed out with no quality control.
When you look at “the golden age” of reggae, what was coming out of Jamaica was innovative music, original and local, infused with elements from popular music genres. When i first heard reggae at the age of 12 in 1978, I was blown away. I had never heard anything like it and I had to know more about this style of music. Who were the artists and where did they come from.
I am not sure if I can say there are so many of today’s artists that are really innovative and has that “wow-effect”, altough I have hopes for some good stuff coming out of the reggae revival movement. When you listen to classics like “heart of the congos” with The Congos, or an album like “Red” with Black Uhuru (that was voted best album of the year 1981 regardless of genre in both NME and melody maker), you will hear that those albums are almost creating a genre in and of themselves.
The album, “Red, is timeless and sounds fresh even 35 years after its release, much thanks to Sly and Robbie’s excellent musicianship and production. The same timelessness shows the quality of most Bob Marley’s albums.
How many albums coming out of Jamaica the last 15 or so years is innovative and will still sound fresh after 15 more years? It seems that a lack of quality control for quick cash has cut down the branch that Jamaican reggae was sitting on.
For a lover of original roots reggae, I must say that in my opinion, the greatest music coming out in the last few years, is Groundation with their jazz influencd roots reggae. That is a matter of personal taste of course, but I don’t think anyone can argue about the quality and sincerity those American musicians put into their music.
If white Americans play roots music with more pride and musicianship than Jamaicans, then I guess that’s the music people will buy. Most people don’t buy music to make a statement or to support a certain nations music industry, they buy what they think is great music.
Jamaican music has gone from taking the world by storm into almost obscurity. Jamaicans need to look into the quality of the work that they are doing.
To argue that Jamaican music or culture is being stolen is kind of unreasonable as we are living in a time where cultural exchange happens rapidly. Jamaican music wasn’t created in a vacuum either, the great artists that shaped the genre was influenced from a lot of different musical expressions.
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