Listen, you all know my love for reggae runs deep. I hopped out of the womb jamming to reggae music. Bob Marley was my first boyfriend and I cried livin’ yiy wata the day my mother told me he was dead. So great is my love that, when I die, I want my ashes sprinkled on Reggae Mountain, so I can listen to music from Dub Club and live performances at Skyline Levels from the afterlife.
Mi love it, but mi haffi ask, what can we do to make the genre even better?
Reggae originated in Rastafari and as such the songs are influenced by the movement’s ideologies. This is why it is the birthright of every reggae artiste to create at least one song fi chant down Babylon, and/or a song about marijuana. It is expected. Do it. Now that you’ve gotten it out of your system, what’s next? I look at reggae as a form of edutainment- it’s both fun to listen to, and thought-provoking. This makes it the perfect conduit for tackling the plethora of issues facing the black community. Depression, for example, is a big one. It is still widely believed that black people can’t be depressed. We don’t talk about it and we don’t sing about it. Why not?
In all fairness, wi have man like Tarrus Riley singing songs about domestic violence and Shaggy tackling child abuse, so it is being done to some extent; however, I would still like to see the further diversification of the content of reggae music. Not convinced? I challenge you to google “Reggae songs about…” and you’ll see the same old topics that everyone expects- love, peace, God, weed, poverty, violence, Babylon…
Another thing that has me baffled is how whenever a musician tries something new everybody have heart failure? It’s like there is some formula for creating reggae music and any musician that is daring enough to deviate from the formula will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Reggae artistes either get attacked for “selling out” or dem nuh get nuh fahwud. Whichever happens, they revert to the original setting and everything stays the same. Folks, the sooner we learn that it is possible to be a little different whilst maintaining our connection to our roots, the better. Sometimes change is necessary for sustainability. Stop putting our musicians in a box. Stop stifling creativity.
Alright, I think I can get off the soapbox now. Seriously though, I’m interested in hearing what you think. Am I way off target or do you think there’s something here? What do you think could be done to improve reggae music? Do you think it’s fine just the way it is?
Here’s the video that inspired this post! Nuff respect to Kapital Stone