Dem know a nutten ’bout music, dem a computer pussy. – Ricky Trooper
While FIRST has mixed feelings about the decision of the United States to cancel the visas of some of Jamaica’s best-known entertainers the incident is also a mixed blessing. Okay, as @afflictedyard reckons, America’s behaviour maybe “fascist” and “petty” but as @BigBlackBarry was saying last night, this might be actually be a necessary sacrifice to help the music renew itself.
Regardless of the Dudus extradition matter, its almost certain that the five artists were targeted as a retaliation for the stance of the Golding administration, even if it could be argued that these artists were already flirting with the proverbial no-fly list. There have been bans and there have been other visa cancellations – of which this was the most high-profile. And of course, the obviously bored officials at the U.S. Embassy can only be helped by instances like Trooper’s brilliant but self-destructive rant on ‘YouChuuuuube’.
“I was just having a conversation last night with a friend when it dawned on me that maybe the rest of the world who love reggae might actually be trying to save it from Jamaica. Even though we invented it, we are the ones that are now trying to destroy it with all the fuckery that is going on. There is something in the Jamaican psyche that whenever they put out something good we turn around and try to destroy it as if to prove to the world that we can do it again or maybe its a need for competition, we build and destroy instead of building and then building better,” said @DatNiggaSherman.
The music is also in a creative drought – one symptom of the sickness affected the Jamaican music, irrespective of the worldwide decline of the recording industry. Artists just aren’t prepared or educated enough about the realities of the business. Instead they’re cultivated only as one more machine in the riddim production line.
Jamaican artists are declining in wealth and opportunity caused by our declining worth to the foreign market not helped by their unprofessional reputation. We have long been no more than an accent to lend flavour to another average track by a larger foreign artist, as functional and generic as the video that accompanies it.
It’s hard to think back and imagine when last a Jamaican album had genuine musical influence on the overseas market while even successful singles are based on old riddims e.g. Junior Gong’s ‘Welcome to Jamrock’ and Buju Banton’s ‘Driver A’. And then when VP had an album as great as Sizzla’s ‘Real Thing’ they were unable to make it crossover.
We can criticise the US and yes, let’s not take this as bait, but perhaps it’s high time the players in Jamaican music start asking themselves a lot of questions; and for these high profile artists to become more streetwise and gain an understanding of modern business beyond simply having a MySpace page.