I noticed the recent uproar caused by, and massive publicity being given to Billboard Magazine, who announced their best of 2015 recently. The initial blip that came on my radar was a Jamaica Observer article, but since then I have seen many of my peers in the reggae industry, especially those representing Jamaica, sounding off and voicing their disapproval of Billboard as if this was an objective award selection.
This controversy inspired my inquisitive mind so I did some research into Billboard Magazine’s previous year’s Reggae superlatives and found that it’s solely based on Reggae Album sales and these statistics have never been friendly to Jamaican performers. Check the history over the past 5 years:
No Jamaicans have been Reggae Artist of the Year according to Billboard Magazine
By simply visiting Billboard’s website and reviewing the rankings I saw that what happened in 2015 – a non-Jamaican crowned Artist of the Year – also happened in 2014, 2013, and so on and so forth. No one slammed the magazine when California-based reggae group Rebelution, Israel’s Matisyahu, or American rappers NAS and Snoop Lion were crowned.
If anything, Jamaican reggae artists, supporters, and the media alike should be reporting that 2015 was the best year in recent history for Jamaican reggae acts as evidenced by releases from Morgan Heritage, Protoje, Jah Cure, and Kymani Marley all selling well enough to be on the 2015 Reggae Album charts. Yes, Joss Stone (UK) sold more, but in prior years only the Marley name could be found consistently among the top selling reggae albums reported by Billboard.
Congratulations to the aforementioned artists carrying the reggae banner in 2015. How can we continue this resurgence of Jamaican reggae and secure a place for artists from the genre’s homeland on international music charts, and concert stages? Start by putting your money where your mouth is. Vote for the artist you love by buying their album.
Everyone knows that reggae is best appreciated loud through a sound system with a stomach shuddering bass. This is not what one normally associates with music heard through the internet – the speakers on most laptops are not going to do justice to King Tubby’s dubs or Prince Far I’s vocals. However, the internet has brought lots of good things for the world of reggae and Jamaican music.
In 2010, a young Jamaican entrepreneur and computer programmer created a new reggae/dancehall computer game which was reported in The Gleaner. Alex Morrisey, who previously created the famous website jamaicanmusic.com, called the game Songwrita and hopes it will be played by fans all around the world. His earlier website is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to know about Jamaican music.
The idea behind the game is that you have to catch various song lyrics as they fall from the sky while you name the artiste – it also links in to iTunes too, so you can buy the music you like. Morrisey told The Gleaner that “I am delighted to have launched this game because dancehall and reggae music is an international entertainment staple that influences so many cultures around the world – Songwrita will definitely help to bring popularity to upcoming artistes and further establish the strength of our music around the globe – something that we are all proud of.”
This wouldn’t be the first time music has inspired a computer game. Music is found in everything from corporate blockbusters like the Grand Theft Auto games, which include lots of great tunes, to smaller games, like pocketfruity.com and Kerrang Radio‘s collaboration on Stairway to 7. Other internet entrepreneurs have looked to Facebook and other social media for inspiration rather than games. The website muzikspace.com is a Caribbean online community where people can meet other music fans and share music, images and videos. An interesting project that is currently seeking funding on the crowd funding website Kickstarter is Trendy Reggae. This is a social utility for reggae and dancehall music fans to discover new music and gigs. The app was created by Tarique Smith (based out of New York) and Calvin Brown (based in Kingston) and you can help funding it until the end of Monday May 12th 2014. Another good reggae community site is reggaelution.com, so check that out too.
There are many other good reggae themed websites – and ours should surely be right at the top – and here is one of the best: For anyone who live in the UK or Europe generally, David Rodigan‘s site rodigan.com should be a saved your bookmarks. Rodigan is a legend in the UK where he has been DJing reggae since the 70s on the radio and live, he has even won the Champion Trophy at World Clash Reset in New York in 2012. This man has a serious passion for the music.
A few other websites you can try to find music, videos or to chat to fellow reggae fans are yardflex.com which has lots of news about Jamaica in general, but music in particular; dancehallreggae.com has loads of videos and lots of forums where fans can chat with others; if you’re just after a forum dancehallareaz.com forum is a great place to chat; and if you’re just after videos reggaetopten.com has lots of good stuff.
Bunji Garlin – Carnival Tabanca EP – Artwork
Bunji releases a brand new EP to vocalize his Trinidad & Tobago Carnival sentiments. According to Urban Dictionary, “Tabanca,” is defined as “an extreme sadness and/or a depression following one’s breakup or separation from one’s significant other.” Not one to dwell on the sadness, Bunji also includes “Red Light District,” “Carnival Tabanca (Vikings remix),” and this year’s Carnival anthem “Truck On D Road” on the EP. Full track list below:
1. Carnival Tabanca
2. Truck On D Road
3. Red Light District
4. Carnival Tabanca (Vikings remix)