From The New York Times

"Lots of dancehall reggae singers have spent lots of time trying to figure out how to turn Jamaican popularity into international success. Should you collaborate with established pop stars? Imitate lightweight R & B crooners or heavyweight rappers? Abandon Jamaican patois? Play up your larger-than-life persona? Emphasize your exotic look? Sean Paul, reggae's biggest success since you-know-who, has succeeded by finding a counterintuitive answer to all these questions: no. He makes hits by making only minimal changes to the genre's standard operating procedure. He slides cool, tuneful rhymes over sharp dancehall reggae beats...known as riddims."- KELEFA SANNEH


Critics and Reggae

After reading in several articles and on numerous blogs the issue of race and identity are being highly debated. At the center of the controversy is Matisyahu, the Jewish reggae anomaly. Because both himself and his band members are all white, his critics are questioning his right as a Reggae artiste and his authenticity. However, criticism from the reggae community regarding his race or culture his yet to be seen. Most of the critics are either Black Americans or people from his community/fellow Jews, most of whom has nothing to do with reggae. In an article in the New York Times written by music critic Kelefa Sanneh, Matisyahu is a "cheap substitute for the real deal."
Another phenomenon which I have noticed is the use of the title Reggae. Whenever there is a successful artist or album the term is avoided, instead rapper, rock, hip-hop or another foreign term is used. Currently, Reggae music is one of the must distictive musical form. Wherever it is played the difference is quite noticeable. It is full time reggae and Jamaicans get credit for our talent and our creation, for too long we have been denied the right.



It's all been a bit roots and culture round these parts lately. Now, though, it's time to mash up the dance. With two stone-cold anthems already released and a rapid turnover of new material, Jamaica's continued love affair with old-school-style riddims is proving surprisingly fruitful.
First up is a tune everyone needs. Baby Cham's "Ghetto Story" (Mad House/7"/JA), released on Dave Kelly's comeback Eighty Five riddim, does exactly what it says on the label, telling Cham's autobiographical tale of badman business, the wealth crime brings and its fatal consequences. Going from "I remember those days when hell was my home/ When me and Mama bed was a big piece a foam" to "Mi best friend Richie get two inna him dome/ I remember so the Avenue tun inna warzone," it doesn't so much glorify gun talk and violence as simply tell it how it is, rocking into the bargain. Other voicings of this splurgy Casiotone beat worth looking out for are Pinchers' "Desperate Scenario" (It's a desperate scenario/ What would you do/ Should I be a bandelero, at age 22/ Mi got nuh dinero/ Mi rent overdue") and Yellowman's fantastic "Orphan".
In the same rhythmic vein Ding Dong's "Badman Forward, Badman Pull Up" (VP/12"/JA) is an absolute cracker, drawing heavily from the 1980s, but bouncing with 21st century panache.
Speaking of Ding Dong, this dancer and deejay also crops up hosting Fine Gold Productions' excellent DVD It's All About Dancing. Over one hour and 12 minutes, the film takes the viewer on a tour of Kingston, showing how central dancehall is to island life, especially at the berserk Passa Passa street party. It also includes sections teaching all the latest moves, for those who don't know their Weddy Weddy from their Shankle Dip, interviews with Beenie Man, Tony Matterhorn, and Cordell "Scatta" Burrell, and rare footage of famed dancer Gerald "Bogle" Levy shot before his death in January 2005. Dave Stelfox


Jamaica music awards gets funding

Numerous previous attempts at a Jamaican music awards have tragically buckled under the pressures of a fickle and seemingly untameable music industry. But executives of the Recording Industry Association of Jamaica (RIAJam) hope that with the establishment of a Reggae Music Academy, things will be different this time around."History has shown where previous awards have failed... but I believe RIAJam can make this one work," said association president, Cleveland 'Clevie' Browne- one half of the famous producing duo 'Steely and Clevie'.He told Splash that, "things are well under way for the development of the Reggae Music Academy". Browne added that RIAJam has received some euro80,000 Euros from the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP)- a portion of which is to assist with the formation of the said Academy for the awards project. The money is also to be used in developing a Sound Recording Producers Collections Society and the expansion of the RIAJam website.Roland Henry