Reggae Music is taking hold in China, a country it has never penetrated before, not even with the music of Bob Marley.
J-pop and K-pop became popular in China in recent years but since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Jamaican culture has slowly seeped into China’s everyday life. So much so that it is now normal to see an outdoor speaker strung up with Chinese dancing in unison to Reggae Music, a scene that you would expect to see in Jamaica.
The acceptance of Reggae Music in China all started with the lyrics videos from the 18 Karat Reggae YouTube channel. This is where they post lyrics videos of popular reggae songs from the Reggae Gold 2021 album so listeners can follow along to what the artist is saying. With more than half of China able to speak English, these videos became hot with Chinese people and started the China-Reggae love affair.
Unlike other countries that have embraced dancehall or reggae music, however, Chinese are not trying to dance like Jamaicans, instead they are putting their own interpretation to the music with their traditional Chinese dances.
The embracing of Reggae Music by Chinese could be attributed to the many Chinese nationals who are now setting up businesses in Jamaican and going back and forth between both countries.
Younger Chinese have now even started dabbling in sound systems modeled after original Jamaican sound systems, with DJ selectors and MCs bellowing out chants and lyrics.
Visitors and locals alike can visit reggae spots like the Reggae Ranch in Beijing.
No one should be surprised at Reggae Music getting so big in China. Chinese-Jamaicans have always and continue to play a major role in Reggae Music in Jamaica. In fact, the largest reggae distributor, VP Records, was started and is currently owned by a Chinese-Jamaican family.
It could even be argued that VP Records has a monopoly on the distribution of reggae. In fact, if it was not for the fact that music has gone to digital distribution model, VP being a monopoly would be undisputed.
Jango Fresh, whose song “Call from God” is in the top 10 on all the reggae charts in China, says he is happy to see reggae penetrating the culture of China.
“Peter Tosh told us that reggae had to be accepted in all corners of the earth, so it is great to see a country where it was not being played 5 years ago, finally coming around to accept it,” Jango Fresh said.
Jango Fresh says he hopes to perform in China very soon. If reggae music continues on the path it is on now in that country, then Jango’s hope will be a reality soon.