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IS REGGAE UNDER SIEGE?

By Norman “Humble Lion” Lawrence—

American artiste Snoop Lion (Snoop Dogg)

American artiste Snoop Lion (Snoop Dogg)–

According to Billboard Magazine, only four out of the top ten reggae album spots are occupied by Jamaican artists for the week of September 6th 2014. This trend has been going on for many years now and although late, the Jamaican Reggae industry is now starting to take notice.

Is this a good or a bad thing for the Jamaican Reggae industry? It is obvious to many that Reggae music is not only from Jamaica, but it is also one of our greatest exports. However, if the reggae Billboard charts continue to be constantly dominated by foreigners, we may soon lose that identity.

I personally welcome the many foreigners who are making chart topping Reggae music, because in my opinion, they have, by their appreciation, helped to keep Roots Rock Reggae alive. But the fact is that Jamaicans have been promoting the sub-genre dancehall heavily for many years, while the foreigners were practicing and making great Roots Rock Reggae music.

Magic!

Magic!

Most people in the industry will agreed that Jamaica’s Dancehall music enjoyed its heyday from the 1980s to approximately the end of the 1990s. Most of the Dancehall music coming out of Jamaica during 2000 and beyond have been highly influenced by Hip Hop and R&B. Some industry insiders have even complained that the only thing Jamaican or Caribbean about it – the music – is the accent of the artists.

As a result, Jamaican music has not been as influential in the 2000s as it was prior to that period. The influence of Hip Hop, R&B and to some extent EMD (Electronic Dance Music), was so dominant on Jamaican radio that it became rare to hear good Roots Rock Reggae.

Thanks to what is now known as the Reggae Revival, the younger generation of entertainers have now seen the light and are following the example of people like Bob Marley. It could also be argued that one of the reasons that they saw the light is the fact that Dancehall has not made a very big impact since Sean Paul in the early 2000s, and in observation, they possibly noticed that Roots Rock Reggae has stood the test of time.

Legend:albumcover

Over the past two years, you will also notice that most of the top Dancehall songs went back to the Dancehall of the 1980s and 1990s. Even the extremely popular Reggaeton, is obviously 1990s Jamaican Dancehall done by Latinos.  The word ‘Reggaeton’ is a combination of the English word Reggae and the Spanish language suffix – ‘on, which means something big. Therefore Reggaeton can be translated as “Big Reggae” and although popularized by Puerto Ricans, Reggaeton started in Panama with El General who did “Son Bow,” the Spanish version of “Dem Bow,” originally done by Shabba Ranks in 1991, on the same beat produced by Bobby “Digital” Dixon in 1991.

Unfortunately for Panamanians, most people are of the view that Reggaeton started in Puerto Rico. I wonder if Jamaica and Reggae is next.

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