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Jimmy Cliff during an extended performance at Rebel Salute 2005.
Jimmy Cliff during an extended performance at Rebel Salute 2005.——

By Hasani Walters——

Genre dominated on iTunes by foreign acts

With the popularity of iTunes and other digital distribution methods among local entertainers seeing an upsurge, there’s little question as to the important role they play in spreading music to the world.

But it appears as if this is far from the case for Jamaican entertainers, as even with all the albums released, very few of them manage to have any lasting impact or presence on charts of relevance worldwide.

Many are left to ask what is going wrong.

Take, for example, the August 21 iTunes reggae charts.

Apart from the Jamaican reggae icon Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley and the Legend albums (Bonus Track, Remastered, and deluxe editions sold as separate entities), there is not much Jamaican presence among the top-10 selling offerings.

Marley holds the number one spot in 17 of 22 international markets. Of the other five markets, he is second in four and number five in the remaining.

However, Jamaican acts are not altogether non-existent as Jimmy Cliff holds a few spots, Sean Paul and Shaggy hold places in Belgium, Vybz Kartel hangs on to Canada, Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley is also present there and also in Ireland, Toots & The Maytals is number one in Finland, Gyptian is number five in Portugal, and The Jolly Boys are there in Spain and Greece.

Sean Paul

So of the 220 available spots on the 22 charts reflective of the top-10 sales in reggae-heavy countries such as France, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand and Spain, that’s pretty much it for Jamaicans.

Entertainers from a variety of countries with almost unpronounceable names are those who are making the numbers.

Matisyahu, Gentleman, Na‰man & Fatbabs, Seeed, Spawnbreezie, Kolohe Kai, Mono & Nikitaman, Culcha Candela, Trys and Jukka Poika are just a few of the non-Jamaican acts found on the charts.

Beenie Man

Notice high-riding entertainers such as Mavado, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and I-Octane are absent.

In a May interview with The Gleaner, currently incarcerated entertainer Busy Signal spoke of the situation.

Abundance of overseas acts

The entertainer had said that there were indeed an abundance of overseas reggae acts doing well.

According to him, even pop stars Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Mary J. Blige were doing reggae music.

“It’s gotta be something. Mi cyaah close a eye and mi cyaah put a blind eye to that. Mi haffi a look cause this is wah we have inna Jamaica, this a Jamaica oil. Yuh have Iraq, yuh have Iran, yuh have Venezuela, yuh have all these places have them own oil. Reggae music is the oil of Jamaica. And a that a the Jamaican dream in terms of music, so to speak,” said Busy Signal.

Busy Signal

The artist-turned-felon pointed to colleagues like Matisyahu – “a Jewish yute weh a do reggae music over the years” – Collie Buddz, Gentleman and Alborosie.

“These people are not Jamaican, but they are interested in the culture. They share the culture, now musically doing it over the world on all these big stages internationally. We here in Jamaica now, we don’t appreciate reggae music the way we should here. Reggae music is not getting the justice that it should locally here,” he had said.

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