Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Reggae Music Again

At the age of 30, Jamaican musician Busy Signal, real name Glendale Goshia Gordon, had already cut himself a name as a top billing dancehall artist and no reason therefore for him to look back, and regret on the musical standing in the reggae famed Jamaica.
As one of the leading artists in the contemporary dancehall movement, Busy Signal has been a large part of the scene since 2003.
Media records show that his first hit single, "Step Out", was one of the most popular dancehall songs in 2005.
May be let me start from the beginning. Reggae started first before ‘Dancehall’ but both owe their history from a genre known as ‘Ska’ music started in Jamaica in the early 1960’s; this was a fast beat and by progression after a really hot summer in 1966, the beat slowed down and then camerock steady.
It is from the rock steady style that reggae reggae was born.
Over the years, the reggae music has evolved to different directions such as roots reggae,dub, ragga and lovers rock.
Ragga where dancehall emerged from started in the mid-1980’s, in other write-ups dancehall is described as cross pollination between reggae and hip-hop, with a dance music vibe.
It took the West Indies by storm shortly later after and there has always been an argument that perhaps it was the slow poison that was slowly finishing off the reggae especially in the early 1990s.
According to Soul Rebels dot com, some of it has an appealing dance beat, mostly composed with synthetized rhythms.
It says although some artists chose to sing about the same themes as did the initial form of reggae, such as repatriation, slavery, poverty, universal love and teaching Rastafarism, some others chose a romantic theme.
The musical website observes that dancehall is also largely known for its slackness.
It writes: “Let's not forget that this music comes from the ghetto, which may explain some of its claims, but where reggae was able to address social concerns in a positive way, dancehall all too often does it through anger and negativity. Because of the beat, the way the message is delivered and its slackness, dancehall doesn't appeal to everyone. If you want to dance in reggae clubs, you have no choice but to be exposed to dancehall, which represents the majority, if not the entire selection, of some DJ’s play lists.

Being a roots reggae lover for more than a decade, I know that Rastafarians, followers of the Old Testament, cannot deal with homosexuality, as is true in many other religions.
Over the years, the biblical concept has been prominent in their music, but dancehall singers have taken this to a completely new level.
They now promote discrimination and violence towards gays and lesbians.
When they sing about male homosexuality, they use street terms such as Mauma Man  or Maama Man), faggot, fishman, funny man, freaky man, Poop Man, Bugger Man and the most commonly used, Batty Man,  or But man and Chi-Chi Man and in Jamaican slang ‘chi chi’ means vermin).
For women they use: Sodomite, Chichi girl and of course lesbian.
I believe the majority of dancehall singers are not Rastafarians, but some seem to be strict followers of the Rasta faith.
The Rastafarian movement has evolved into four, main distinct groups over the years: the Orthodox Rasta, the Nyahbinghi Order, the Twelve Tribes Of Israel and the Bobo Shanti.
Some say that homosexuality is a Babylonian disease brought to the Caribbean by the white conquerors, and that it must be eradicated. They condemn it, as expressed by Judgement Day, to be thrown in fire.
The Bobo Shanti seems to be the group that have the strictest views on homosexuality, and the way to deal with it.
The Bobo Shanti, which include popular dancehall singers such as Sizza, Capleton and Anthony B, condemn everything that doesn’t go along with their beliefs: “Fire pon politicians, Fire pon Vatican, Fire pon chi chi man...”
Singers defend themselves in interview by saying that it’s a spiritual fire.”
Now the reason today I have concentrated on the theme of dancehall and reggae is because of a similar situation in the country where the so called ‘Urban’ music is slowly, like dancehall did to reggae, eclipsing the music of the old like the ones played by Allan Namoko, Daniel Kachamba and company.
Now, what is unique about Busy Signal is that despite the fame he garnered through dancehall, just this year he has released an album ‘Reggae Music Again’ which is calling upon his youthful colleagues to cling to reggae in order to cultivate the positivity that it preaches.
May to borrow from United Reggae Dot Com "One drop" sets from dancehall artists are not new. Capleton cut one in 2010 and Mr Vegas was poised to release his currently postponed effort in early 2012.
It might be tempting for some to point to this one, not as a first but as a pivotal moment like Buju Banton’s 'Til Shiloh' - but that is journalistic hyperbole, and for history to decide.
There will also be suggestions that, like 'Til Shiloh' did for Buju, 'Reggae Music Again' might take Busy too far away from the dancehall - yet the quality of this album renders all such thoughts irrelevant. A fantastic example of everything modern Jamaican reggae can be today.”

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