April 12, 2010
LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
Interesting times lay ahead for dancehall. Last time I addressed the issue of the recent revocation of 4 major artistes USA visas. It is a topic that is not going to be dissipating anytime soon. Speculation
over the weekend has even pointed to the infiltration of our society by USA agents posing as consultants, tourists and so on. Funny that they feel free to enter our country and do as they see fit, yet other countries dare not exercise such an option, unless they wish to undergo severe sanctions.
Stephen 'Di Genius' McGregor has recently recorded and produced an instant runaway hit [locally at least] by Beenie Man called Visa, Jah Cure has also joined in on the action and God knows who else; so very soon I suppose we will have a visa segment in the dance. Oh well. I am not sure if this is even a direction we would want to go in, given that we are going to be under siege very soon. It is not a simple
issue this whole revocation thing; many webs have been weaved and the normal 'we nah tek nuh chat' response that Jamaicans are prone to exhibit is not going to work. We are not a financial powerhouse so it is not a wise idea to take that route.
Anyway, given our current travails there abounds a great opportunity to rebuild and clean the moral fabric of our society and the music we consume and feed to the world. To be quite honest, even as an ardent lover of the Jamaican music form, over the 3 years prior to last year, what was being produced was rather wanting and unnecessarily violent, lewd and misogynistic. This is not even up for debate, this is a straight up fact. The songs gave the audiences a sugar high and made quick money for the artistes, but were basically the planting of seeds of future destruction. No matter how you would argue for change, the producers were unrelenting, the artistes were defensive, the deejays afraid to go against the grain and listeners great displayers of double standards [many chastising the music yet still playing the same music they chastised and railing to it and even paying to see the artistes perform].
This is not only the time to make the music pleasant to the ear once again, but entertaining. A number of producers have sprung up, likewise a number of artistes and current producers and artistes who
were already in the system have begun making changes. Quite notably Movado [Hold On Movy], Cash Flow Records, Don Corleone Records, Wasp, Chedda, Andrew and Wada Blood, Tami Chynn, Tifa, Timberlee, The Gangstress herself Stacious, Idonia, Charly Black and I could go on and on.
Alot of artistes are even exploring the reggae genre again, a number of old riddims are being 'licked' [rebuilt] over, but this is not sufficient. To garner momentum in the market place it takes proper
artiste management, industry structure, channels set up by government to facilitate development of the industry and a level of seriousness by the players in the industry.
It is not sufficient just to spit a few sentences of positive lines and then go and make a violent song. There has to be some consistency in an artiste repertoire. Proper song construction is needed in our
business, not just rhyming for rhyming sake. We need our artistes to go the extra mile and educate themselves and this does not have to mean tertiary education, because technology can afford many good usable information. More worth needs to be placed on good writers, the persons who can control input need to be straight up with the artiste when garbage is being delivered or when good content is being delivered poorly; 'yesmanship' is like a growing kidney problem, over time it leads to renal failure, artistes need to open their minds and exercise more topical diversity. In addition, alot of persons are
complaining of the non-jamaicaness in the sounds that are emanating from yard, that too is something which needs to be addressed. A set that is most times overlooked are the journalists who make exaggerated reports, who show up late for a show or dance and are only able to make a report based on the limited period they were present and not a comprehensive review, who interview only their 'friends' or artistes and producers they favor, and ignore and critique rather harshly those they might dislike in their written, audio and/or audio-visual reports. So far those who have made changes and have been consistent with palatable and well thought out lyrics are reaping the rewards with endorsements - Tifa, Ding Dong, D'Angel, Busy Signal, Chino, Konshens, Alibra ...and have been gaining popularity in the local sphere and overseas - G Whizz, Stacious, Andrew & Wada Blood, Professor, Cecile, I-Octane, Cherene Anderson, Natel, Romaine Virgo, Nicky B just to name a few.
We don't need a visa to make our industry better, but we do need some changes to be made. Becoming an entertainment Mecca should not be an elusive concept to us; afterall think, The Rolling Stones, Gentleman, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Gwen Stefani, Rihanna, Drake (all international, Billboard charting acts) came here to record, why? Obviously, they were not forced, but drawn to something here. We have a magic that we will lose if do not stop taking what we have for granted. The self administration of cerassee tea to this industry bloated with toxins has to occur and it should not have taken an outsider to choke us to make us realize.