October 23, 2009
DANCEHALL ARTISTES NEED TO STEP UP THE GAME
Jamaica is not a place you can describe to anyone and they understand what it is like. Even if you were to get Maya Angelou, Obama or even Muta himself; they would all fail to describe what we have here. Bauxite, sugar cane, bananas have failed us and now it seems tourism is heading in that direction. Usain is quite the talk of the town and yes he has brought major attention to the island, but given his propensity for fast driving he might soon become another fatality. Entertainment though is something that is undervalued and all we seem to have had in the past is much lip service from the reigning government about what is to be done and going to be done to make the industry more vibrant and better.
As a people we have been fiercely competitive, more than crabs in a barrel. In Entertainment it is flagrantly evident; take the Gully Gaza feud. It has elevated ‘Kartel’ to an almost kingly status [ya ya ya when was the last time Beenie had a hit, not to disregard his contribution] and ‘Mavado’ to a God albeit a ‘Gully God’. While their rae rae makes for trembling excitement locally what does it really do for the music overseas? Kartel can’t even access his major market that of the USA, instead he has to send his minions; with Jah Vinci and Gaza Kim being the only true talent in the Empire camp. The Alliance and Gully Squad is not as fraught with such problems; if only the Warlord could put his spliff tail away.
To my knowledge no unda gyal, bullet inna marrow, kill a faggot, matey, *** u mumma and all the other rubbish that we call ‘HIT SONGS’ have never won a Grammy neither have they done well on The Billboard Chart, never won a VMA, much less got a nomination. As a matter of fact the cussing of Shebada has made him a more viable entertainment product earning more than many of these deejays and consistently having sell out shows.
It is time we started thinking international and put aside lame childish lyrics. Buju and Sizzla are doing their best to not lose ground in the local market by defending ‘HOMOPHOBIA’ overseas; frankly it is only because their pockets are feeling it why they are bending a bit. Have we seen them on the Billboard? This is not a GAY defence, but there are many topics to sing about. Lots of current artistes often refer to ‘WE A JAMAICAN, WE NUH INNA DAT’. As far as I know we neva inna it when Toots, Jimmy Cliff, Freddie McGregor, Millie Small, Bob Marley started yet their songs are timeless and still getting airplay worldwide and they have never been barred from travelling or had anyone pepper spraying their concerts.
A careful look at the artistes who have done well overseas would reveal several aspects to their success: quality performances, properly structured lyrics, the ability to perform across genres and the audiences that come with it, fairly decent communication skills and a proper management team. Look at Burning Spear, Cecile, Sean Paul, Lee Scratch Perry and Cherene Anderson [only a mere 25 yrs yet she has performed to over 1 million persons] they have never been able to really grab the
local market, but overseas success cometh in abundance. As a matter of fact the number one song on the Billboard Reggae chart is not even a Jamaican it’s Jew, Matisyahu. Cherene Anderson’s song is now at #18 on the Hot 100. Cecile has signed a major deal with E, MTV & Tempo. Shaggy, Ziggy [he even performed at the White House]. At least Mavado seems to be making a change focusing on the international market, Jamaica is NOT the world. We don’t even buy music here. The world does! We need to step up our game.