In Response to the editorial “Solidarity is What We Need”
by M. Peggy Quattro
February 14, 2008
Greetings! In response to this editorial above, which was a bulletin posted on MySpace by Lloyd Stanbury, I hereby agree with several points he adeptly brings to our attention. The image of Jamaica as a corrupt and violent society is constantly being presented to the world. Every country has degrees of these elements, but the Land of Reggae, the Land of Wood and Water, the Land of One Love, has taken a turn for the worse.
Since the beginning of Dancehall in the late ‘80s, when lyrics were degrading women and praising the gun culture, the seeds of destruction were sown. Playing our part in the media, Reggae Report chose not to support or encourage this new type of performance. No where near the quality of Dennis Brown’s “Love Has Found its Way” or the driving call to “Get Up! Stand Up!,” early Dancehall artists brought in such sleaze as “Wicked Inna Bed,” calling for “Bam Bam…Lick a shot on mama-man’s head.” The media helped make performers, such as Shabba Ranks, a so-called star. What followed was an audience trained to think this was the new direction of Reggae music.
Bob Marley said it best: “You have to be careful of the type of song, and the type of vibration that you give to the people…because ‘Woe be unto they who lead my people astray.’”
The vocal opinions of Jamaica’s Dancehall artists, regarding gays or turf wars, are not widely accepted by the rest of the world. The call for violence is portrayed by the media as ‘news’ in Jamaica and abroad, and foreign fans and visitors are now taught to think that this is the status quo for Reggae’s island paradise.
Personally, I do not want to read about Beenie’s personal troubles, or hear about Movado’s call to violence, on a daily basis. We get enough of that with the sadly troubled Britney and the Iraq war. Where does this leave the artists who consistently strive to uplift the people, give hope to the hopeless, and produce quality words and music for legions of Reggae fans worldwide? Without an outlet.
It seems good news is delivered last when it comes to disseminating the progress of Reggae music and culture. For 25 years, Reggae Report was the antidote to bad press and negative publicity. Our goals included participation in the development and advancement of Reggae music. Those goals have not changed. With the emergence of the Reggae Academy and the Recording Industry Association of Jamaica, we can look forward to a professional approach to the cultivation of Reggae and Dancehall music, and to the fostering of artists who will reflect positively on the media-battered island nation and its number one export, Reggae music.
It is not too late… never too late. It is time, however, that ‘one love,’ which gave birth to a global musical family, assumes its role as the symbol for all that is good and right. We have the power to unite and conquer, to spread the truth before the world’s eyes and ears. The time to act is now.