Is Jamaica's Music Culture being Used and Abused?

Is Jamaica's Music Culture being Used and Abused?

Over the years the U.S. Pop Culture has been heavily influenced by Reggae and DanceHall music. While this has been mutually beneficial for both cultures – U.S and Jamaica, it has mostly benefitted the former one. International artistes undoubtedly have an undying love for Jamaica’s music genres producing hits such as “The Jam” featuring Shabba Ranks and KRS-One, “Ghetto Story: Chapter 2” with Cham and Grammy-winning R&B singer Alicia Keys and “Baby Boy” featuring Sean Paul and Beyonce which launched Beyonce’s solo career and landed Sean with a Grammy for his album in 2004. There is just something about our music that leaves artistes across the world with a burning passion, a passion so wild that it has forced local and international artistes to collaborate and produce great hits. However, though there is love for our island’s music some international artistes have foregone employing the assistance of our local artistes and have produced hits with a flavour of reggae and/or dancehall by themselves. Some of which are “Rude” by Magic! which ascended to No. 1 on the Billboard’s Hot 100 music chart, “Controlla” featuring Drake, “Work” by Rihanna featuring Drake, “Gun Shot” by Nicki Minaj and a host of others. While the recognition is excellent for our music industry there have been incidents where international artistes have utilized the crafts of some of our locals and have failed to give them credit on the big screen. The most recent unfortunate incident stemmed between international star, Drake and local artiste, Popcaan. The single “Controlla” which moved up from No. 23 on the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart to No. 20 has sparked a controversy in the dancehall industry. Upon the release of Drake’s album, “Views”, fans especially those of the Jamaican artiste noticed that Popcaan’s verse had been erased and replaced with a sample of Beenie Man while keeping the reggae flow.

It would be an understatement to say that Drake had been heavily influenced by the Jamaican culture in the creation of this work. With his album doing very well on the music scene, Jamaican artistes may now be hesitant to share their craft with the star or other international artistes even. Some artistes have even openly expressed dissatisfaction at Drake’s actions towards their own. The Jamaican people are very disheartened as this would have definitely been the big break that Popcaan had hoped for. Moreover, what about that “One Dance” dub Drake did for Popcaan at the Red Bull Culture Clash in London? Does this mean that it is now ‘water under the bridge’ for the two? Though Popcaan won the competition he was still dissed by the artiste after his verse was edited from “Controlla”. Will the dub be officially released as a peace offering to Popcaan and by large the Jamaican people? I think not.

In the meantime it should be highlighted that this was not the first time the Canadian rapper, had worked with a dancehall artiste. In April 2010 Mavado starred as a gangster in Drake’s single “Find Your Love” still there was no credit given to our local artiste. Should we assume that the rapper has now built for himself an infamous reputation with the Jamaican music industry? Fortunately, dancehall artiste Mavado has made strides in his career. In September of 2011 the artiste signed a deal with DJ Khaled’s record label We the Best Music Group. Mavado since then has produced hits such as “Emergency” and “Survivor” featuring Ace Hood and Akon respectively on the record label. This has put Jamaica’s craft on the map once more.

On the flip side, Drake has made music history in the U.K topping the singles chart with his song “One Dance” featuring Wizkid and Kyla. The single is the longest running No. 1 song in 22 years on the U.K. singles chart surpassing 12 weeks. Prior to this, the last single to spend as many as 12 weeks on the chart was Wet Wet Wet’s 1994 single “Love Is All Around”. Similarly, in the United States “One Dance” is holding the No. 1 position on the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for 12 weeks and counting. No hard feelings, but we wish Drake all the best in his endeavours. Thankfully, over the years our island has produced grammy – winning artistes such as Sean Paul, Shaggy, Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, Ziggy Marley, Morgan Heritage and many others. These artistes have represented Jamaica very well at the international level and serve as reminders as to why the U.S Pop culture is heavily influenced by our music and our culture at large. |P|

By Chrystal Smith, Social Media Editor

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