Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is Dancehall going to the dogs?

With every generation comes change. Ever generation tries to outdo the previous generation. When Rock and Roll hit on the scene there was outcry that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. That didn't happen and it still will not. God music lasts and the others are forgotten. I don't know why dancehall is being picked on, if you look at the tv shows these days, everything is more racy and raunchy, vampire series, bachelor dating 12 women to find the perfect one, gay-couples match making, Kate and Jon.

Dancehall is Jamaica's contribution to the world, why would you want to even think of banning it? What/Who is behind this censorship? Who don't like it don't listen. These artists need to come together and stand up for their rights. Instead of calling for the banning also of Soca, they have their own artist association that will say ( as a jamaican would say) "if ona na like it, go suck yu ... Sex is a part of life and if as a parent you allow music to be your child's only teacher of things of a sexual nature, you have the lay the blame for their wayward behaviour on yourself. The onus in son you.

Other views - Letter to the Editor this week in the Stabroek News.

Dear Editor,

Change is inevitable. Everything changes over time, even music. And so we would have seen that within all the genres of music, there are changes in composition and delivery. This does not necessarily mean that the foundations of the different genres of music has changed, but just that subtle changes would have been made probably to phrasing, timing, harmony, or lyrical composition.


Reggae is a musical genre which was created here in the Caribbean in Jamaica and is one which has evolved and which continues to evolve. Reggae by right originated out of two other genres known as Ska and Rock-steady. Tempo wise it fits snugly in the middle of the two for it is slower than Ska and faster than Rocksteady.

Lyrically Reggae deals with a plethora of issues ranging from love, religion, drugs, poverty, colonialism, racism, and general third world politics. The genre also covers a lot of Pop music coming out of the United States and Europe.

But in the way that Reggae evolved from Ska, Reggae gave birth to Dancehall Reggae.

Discovered more or less by accident in the late 1970s, Dancehall Reggae, or Dub as it is popularly known, began simply with Disc Jockeys (DJs) chanting over the B side of Reggae 45 rpm records at Dances.

The lyrics for Dancehall were far less serious than those used in Reggae. A lot of emphasis was placed on the more socially appealing themes at that time, like the everyday Rude Bwoy, Area Dons or Donman, and a reverence for sexual dexterity in men and women.


Even though interspersed were some songs that glorified and promoted violence and also exposed the vulgar side of some artistes, it was not enough to taint the entire genre. People still rocked on to the Pepper Seed, Action, Medicine, Bogle, World Dance and the Stink Riddims, to name a few. Everyone got up and danced when Second Class Love came on with Carol Gonzalez and Buju Banton. That remains an all-time Dancehall classic!

Sadly the Dancehall arena has now changed drastically for the worst. Today the King Jammys and the Sly and Robbies of old have been replaced by producers like Stephen ‘Di Genius’ Mc Greggor, Not Nice and Daseca Productions. Beenie Man and Buju are still present, but they are now overshadowed by the likes of Movado, Vybz Kartel, Bugle, Demarco and Busy Signal just to name a few. Beautiful rhythmical Dancehall Reggae has been replaced by robotic heavily syncopated break beats and copious overdoses of synthesized keyboards. The poetic deliverance of messages of sexual grandeur and the often funny lines that dealt with strategies on how to get and keep a man or woman have all been replaced with hardcore verbal pornography! Many Dancehall artistes today have taken the themes of sex and violence way overboard. Absolutely nothing is left to the imagination.

The depiction of violence in modern Dancehall Reggae is as gruesome as it gets. And people go to parties to listen to this sewage of lyrics and actually claim to have fun. I am sorry for the generation of youth growing up on this filth called Dancehall Reggae. I often wonder what music this generation would play for their children as examples of music from their time.

Read the rest here. Also this video talks academically of the proposed banning.

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