Music is Life

Non-Jamaican Reggae?

Billboard recently reported that today’s top selling reggae tracks are by non-Jamaicans, in fact most of the top charters are from the US. I watched a short video of some news reporters discussing this and they thought this strange. I remember years ago in university one of my professors brought up the same subject but in a different light, “Why do so many young people have a strong connection to music 250 years old from Germany?” I never thought about that. After that conversation I always thought it strange to see so many young adults strive to become effective interpreters of the three B’s: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.

I think the operative term here is ‘culture’. Music and culture can be so incredibly enmeshed that it sometimes creates a difficult barrier through which people can navigate. One of my friends commented on the non-Jamaican reggae video saying, “Reggae isn't about the color of your skin... it's about the feeling in your soul,” yet in Billboard’s articles some mention an exploitation and misappropriation of the Jamaican culture. I’m sure that both are right; there are always artists that are purely genuine and those that are merely copycats. As the saying goes, “Bad artists copy, good artists steal.” What do you think?