POP CULTURES

Emperor Menelik of Ethiopia

OK – From JA To UK!

I follow and enjoy all forms of popular cultures, especially music of all genres. One of my favourite is or maybe was, all types of ‘Jamaican Music.’ The current batch of musicians and their types of music, have placed a block on that outpourings of affections.

Regardless, I am being consoled of the plight, through the originators and masters of Jazz Music. John Coltrane, did not die in vain for a ‘Love Supreme.’

Many people say, “Reggae Music is dead.” Maybe they know something that I don’t, and are privy to the mercenaries and assassins contracted to do the dirty work of murdering.

Others say, “Dancehall were the final nails in the coffin.” Dead, Stink, Rotten and Soon Forgotten. Wow! What a final Epitaph, for an exciting creative explosions that began in the 1990s. In my thinking, not a bad run for a new wave in popular music.

Right now, the major problems in Jamaica, as far as it relates to music-making, is not the lack of talent and creativity. It is the scarce support of infrastructures, forward planning and fast adaption to the changes in the way the business of music is being conducted and administrated, right now!

The twenty first century methods of manufacturing, marketing, promotion and distribution, are completely different to last century’s activities. Jamaican music industry is worth over tens of billions in USA$ dollars in real terms. Unfortunately, there are very little mechanism on the Island to reap the benefits of the musicians efforts and creative genius.

Emperor Haile Selassie 1

The Mammoth Giants in the global music industry are carving up everything in the arenas of all genres, domineering the whole spectrum of the music universe. Led by merciless corporate executives in their higher towers among the clouds. Among the three big heavyweight champions, Sony and Warner Music, Universal is living up to its name by practicing their ethos – All in the Music Universe are Mine!

They are buying up all rights to everything, back-dated from the beginning of recording music. Erasing away, archiving, and streaming directly to home entertainment systems and hand-held devices around the globe. Close relationship with the artists are minimal, there are very little information, titles and background about the music. Just current promoted sounds, the lifestyle and images of the idols who are fronting the digital blends and mash-ups.

Even with over two hundred million followers on social media, you are lucky if you receive enough money to live simply from the income received from the music corporations, dictating the business of the music industry. Only through touring with your own tightly managed loyal band-members, are you able to save the night and day, servicing the welfare of family and needs of dependants.

Back to the land of Wood and Water in the Sunny Caribbean Isles. The place where sweet Reggae Music came from – those were the days and nights, even for the present-day retro-spectators, discovering and hearing the best of the music for the first time.

The musicians in the golden age, utilised Reggae music as vehicles to promote the doctrine of the great African King of Kings. The new crews in the spotlight, standing on the foundations of the originators, use the doctrine only to promote themselves. Adding nothing new, simply imitating in repetitive regurgitations of the same old boring story, again and again at high speed and bouts of dizzying sonic frequencies.

A Welsh lover of music cried out, “what’s new pussy claats.” oh oh! My bad, I mean pussycats. Apologies, polite words are important, especially in the public domain.

Bob Marley – Sunsplash – Montego Bay, Jamaica 1979.
Tabby Diamonds – Fire Yard – Channel One Studio, Jamaica 1970s.

1990s. Yussssh! DanceHall Music entered the major league of the global entertainment industry, in Style, Fashion, Passion and Dance Patterns shocking out! In world domination were Shabba Ranks, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Tiger, Beenie Man, Shinehead, Super Cat, later Shaggy, Monster Shack, Scare Dem Crew, and introducing the energy god – Elephant Man – dancing around the world. All the way out of the Gully Bank – lots and lots of Money! Pure Fun & Enjoyment. On Top of the Hillside in Red, Gold & Green.

Much, much later, slackness and nastiness belittled and removed niceness. Go-go dancers from the depths and darkness of strip-clubs and pornographic presentations, in the officers’ private clubs. Flooded the Dance-Hall Spaces, in free expressions almost naked, bare as they dare.

UK

It is Dance-Hall Friday night, a massive of over ten thousand party people are dancing to leading selectors, dropping the best in deejays, yard and jungle. The location is among the vast abandoned warehouse complex in the East of London, somewhere. Under tight security, text message invitation only. The promoter, Lady Glitter and her dancehall posse of Queens and Princesses, are there in exquisite fashions of finery and sensational qualities of dance styles. Selector Jack Frost drop under the turntable needle, ‘Buju Banton’s Champion’ – Miami Mix on Dub Plate, and Pandemonium bust loose. The bull horns, the whistles. the lighters, blow torches and lamps are on at full blast. The atmosphere is at maximum intensity. The temperature is over ninety degrees and rising. Over half of the all nations crowd, scream rewind! Rewind my selector, again and again and more vibes until the weekend is over. Operation Trident put a dead-stop to all the palaving sprees, in and out of the dancehalls.

JA

In the 1970s political fall-out and 1980s reconciliation with America, hard heavy drugs, hand guns of all types and the induced perversions of pornographic films flooded the Jamaican communities. No more real ganja plant, only fast growing seeds modified by genetic alterations. The poor in high-security garrisons villages controlled by warlords and gangs of drug dealers, were all caught up in the web of a living hell.

The resurgence of roots and culture music from the beginning of the new century, did spark and re-lit the burnt out embers, with hopes of reviving the glory of years past. Yet, no one was able to reach the stature, character, image and likeness of the King and Crown Prince of Reggae. Excellent music is eternal, it becomes better with age.

CHANTERS

One area that it totally overlooked are the Chanters in the Dance-Halls, very different to the Dee-Jays and Sing-Jays. In a similar style to ‘Dub-Poets, Chanters were more in line to MCs – Masters of Ceremonies. Invented by the great Jah ‘Big’ Youth, an excellent example of this art-form can be heard on the recorded track, ‘Five Man Army, with Trinity, Dillinger, Al Campbell, Wayne Wade and Junior Tamlin. The track was produced by city dread, Lewin ‘Jah Bones’ Lock, on the Oak Sound label.

Errol Dunkley & Friends 1970s.

Nearly two decades into the new century, Blam! Blam! The great big sleep, the world is in lockdown. At the same time, a global war was declared on a small deadly germ, Covid – 19. Ongoing, the virus is still mutating.

The Jamaican Music industry in crisis, crashing, fading away and near death. A fact for real, and cannot be denied if you you know anything about the creation and business of music. Yet, I heard the reply “no call me Duppy, me no dead yet!

Unity was the thing that made the Island’s Music great and loved all over the world. It was never a One Man Band. Nor Self-Centred Vanity Driven Egotistic Meanderings, by the chosen few.

Now is the time to take a unified stock of things – rally back and double check all things in the old and the new. Now is the time for a new name, type and style of music, for the new times. The national motto “Out of Many, One People.” Is a shocking reminder of the true nature and resolve of all decent, clean living, sensible Jamaican people.

Music all over the world is considered to be an accepted form of artistic expression. In order for it to be classified as high culture, the music activity must offer societies and the general public specific benefits, elevation, refinement, better manners and good taste.

As a Fine Art, it is sounds organised through Melody, Poly-Rhythms, Harmony and much more. Especially so, when produced by excellent instrumentation and singing sweetly with feelings. Plus added emotions as extr-brata!

“WE LITTLE, BUT WE TALLAWAH! CAAN DUN!

Jamaican Music Expressions, specifically, from the middle of twentieth century, are vast and far reaching. Drawing resources and inspiration from the spiritualised African retentions in ‘Kumina & Burru drumming in Mento, jazz & R&B influenced Ska, African-American rare cover-versions in Rock Steady Jamaican style, original authentic Reggae to the very popular Dance-Hall. A new modern synergy of digital sounds, attitude, style, fashion and passion, all rolled into one. Crowds of people posing and posturing in spaces, where usually social gatherings prance and dance embracing each other.

However, regardless, are there any real efforts to archive and preserve this great valuable legacy as heritage for the generations now and those to follow? A great original authentic and new form of music, one that is appreciated all around the world. And they complain robbery, when others in foreign can see the values, and those in positions of authority cannot. I ponder and wonder, what kind of world am I living in! – I-Life.