January 01, 2010
WHAT OF 2010
Well 2009 close out last night and today is a new year 2010. Let’s hope that given that the year starts on a Friday we will really get good entertainment for the 2010 and see new, relevant and true entertainers and not joke it out.
2009 could easily be branded the year of Gully and Gaza. It will go down in our musical history as one of the darkest period in Jamaican music to date. Crews, gangs, groups whatever collective noun you want to use have always had its place in Jamaican music; well in human existence really since we are communal, barring the sociopaths. Kartel, CEO of the Portmore Empire is inarguably one of the best lyricists at the moment in Jamaica, though he does not have a commanding voice or strong stage performing skills. His nemesis or now truce partner (we don’t even now what really is) Mavado, Chief of The Gully has melodies that make sparrows fly in for lessons though he is not always on key (we love you Stephen McGregor, you always tune Mavado’s voice right and fill in where necessary). Let’s make it clear, both of them dress well and have improved much over the years.
From the beginning of the year things were taut and many of us braced for the war; the main reason was that it was still disputable who won the clash at Sting 2008. I will reserve my opinion on that. Kartel with his Empire disciples and new found in house producers NOT NICE (who probably either needs lessons on the science of sound (Engineering 101 anyone) or some time off) and RUSSIAN (who is a good musician, but like Dave Kelly should stay away from singing or deejaying) spewed forth singles after singles and riddims after riddims week after week and day after day; they clearly were giving Lil Wayne, Prince and Sizzla a run for musical output (quality is another issue). Kartel became the King of Jamaica dancehall scene (sorry Beenie).
Mavado on the other hand took his career international and focused on gaining momentum and more traction along with members of the Gully Squad; working with artistes such as Trey Songz, Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keys to name a few he sought to dodge the missiles from the Empire like a Shaolin Ninja. At times the caveman in him would allow him to pen and voice a primal song firing back at The Empire, but for the most part the Gully focused on moving outernational.
A deep look at the charts would see a rally back and forth between Kartel and Mavado for chart topping positions, with Kartel having domination on the charts in most instances. Mavado might have voiced many songs in the year, but many may not have yet been released, but when a song was released by him, it would do well. Almost like a sharp shooter, precise!
The Gully Gaza feud which should have been a lyrical battle for showmanship and supremacy had several impacts which were mostly negative. It might have been good for the Empire and the Gully (collecting DUB money and getting heavy show requests) but overall it was negative.
There are many reasons we have so much violence in Jamaica and it would be unwise to blame it all on the Gully & Gaza feud, but entertainment at the moment is seen by many as the Golden Child, once it used to be sugar, bananas, bauxite and coffee. Now it is Entertainment followed by Sports & Gambling. Stooping mainly under severe economic pressures, high job losses, low literacy the country became and is becoming a ticking time bomb. Many persons used the Gully Gaza feud as an outlet (almost like over imbimbing or snorting too much white lady so you are suspended from reality and can’t be held accountable for your actions) and held staunch positions. It led to heated arguments, fights and a high concentration of Gully Gaza music in most entertainment outlets: clubs, beach parties, house parties, cds, stage shows. It got boring to party as we edged towards year end and few if any other artistes made any major impact. A lot of good songs which would have otherwise been favourably received were tolerated in a minor way. It had to be Gaza mostly or Gully to be entertaining.
Discussions with overseas deejays and lovers of Jamaican music have expressed concern at the direction of the music. Maybe 2010 we will realize that a change is necessary and that we need to act and not pay lip service only.
The dilution of our music form has made a younger generation in Jamaica unappreciative of the hard work of the musicians and other entertainment persons who have gone before us and it is making our music sink lower than a sub-genre overseas, which means we will have to work that much harder to move forward. THINK! THINK!
Why can’t we appreciate what we have, how much longer are we going to make outsiders extract the good we have, polish it and package it and sell it to us at a high price?