Wonderful things have been happening for reggae/dancehall and now many are sitting up and finally taking notice. But that is nothing new where the influence of Jamaica’s music is concerned. In spite of the limited promotion our music has received on the international stage, it is still making great inroads in cultures around the world.
One only has to look at the Bob Marley phenomenon and how even from the grave, his music is still crossing barriers and getting even more popular.
Jimmy Cliff, Yellowman, Shabba Ranks, Shaggy, Sean Paul, Beenie Man, Capleton and the list could go on and on of entertainers who have made a great impact on the international scene with this precious commodity of ours. But has it gotten the respect that it should?
Last year at a German Festival, dancehall acts Capleton and TOK totally devastated the massive, so much so that there was a lot of feedback on their performance. Many on the local front expressed surprise at this feat.
But why should that be surprising? Being here you just have to feel the beat, get caught up in the rhythm and let the good Jamaican creation flow through your being.
Respecting our culture must start from here. Radio stations must start showing some of that respect. There are so many great songs out there that make sense and yet the airwaves are being flooded with songs that are trivial, focusing only on the female anatomy, sexual preferences and glorifying the gun.
What about the many conscious, humorous, love, and gospel songs that could be getting better airplay? Who will look beyond the hype and start feeding our minds with something other than total trash?
It is a shame to listen to some of the junk that has been permeating the airwaves under the guise of music. One wonders why disc jockeys are not setting higher standards. Disc jocks should be trendsetters; for sure if they start focusing on quality then undoubtedly DJs would start doing the kind of songs that make sense.
I had an interesting discussion with female DJ Tanya Stephens on her latest release “What A Day” (a haunting song that speaks of her hope for peace and love to reign again). I asked her why she hadn’t done more songs like that before, and her response was swift, “because they don’t get played.”
Disc jocks must start playing their part in bringing back quality in the music business – and DJs too must step up to the challenge. And, of course, so too must we the consumers.
PROPHET HAS NO HONOUR IN HIS COUNTRY
There is a sad reality that has to be faced – we don’t give our DJs and singers the respect they deserve until international music moguls and enthusiasts start to shower them with accolades and praises. It is only then that we jump on the bandwagon and pretend as if we had always thought these artistes were the best thing since sliced bread.
The media too must take its share of the blame. Thankfully, Jahworks.org has always focused on both upcoming and established artistes. However, there is still ways to go and the media must play its part in promoting artistes who really have something to say. There are still many unsung heroes in the music business who are waiting to get their message across, but they will have to remain silent a little longer. One wonders just what it will take to get their message blasted across the airwaves.
Entertainment journalists must now take up the mantle and find these ‘prophets’ and help them to get the honour they so deserve in their own country. However, this task should not be left solely on the shoulder of the media, which brings me to my next point…
KNOWLEDGE OF THE BUSINESS
Artistes too must take the blame for the lack of respect that is shown to them. Whether they want to believe it or not, the music is a business and cannot be approached in “a hurry come up” fashion. It must instead be approached methodically and with carefully laid out plans — just like any other business venture.
George Nooks, who has been in the business for years and managed to get number one hits both as a singer and a DJ, is still maintaining a strong presence on the music scene after two decades in the business. He pointed out that this was no coincidence.
“It is a lot of hard work. You have to dedicate yourself to it. It’s a profession like any other and you have to give it the respect it deserves. Part of that is showing up on time for interviews, properly packaging yourself and above all, showing respect to your audience,” Nooks shared.
Ignorance is no excuse of the law and this is so true when it comes to the music business. There are a lot of forums that are available for artistes to learn. We can quickly call to mind the Caribbean Music Expo and the numerous seminars organised by Jamaica Promotions, and they both had one thing in common – poor turnout from the players in the music business.
One would think that if this business meant so much to them that they would eagerly grasp every opportunity to learn and hone their craft.
It is time to take back the reigns of this vibrant business. We have long established that we have a product…a viable product. So everyone should pool their resources and put reggae and dancehall music where it truly belongs – in the forefront. It’s a job that will involve every entity – the media, Entertainment Advisory Board, Jamaica Federation of Musician (which has been woefully silent) and the artistes themselves.