Friday, May 23, 2008

Headlines! Editor's Note for May 22, 2008

It’s with great joy that we notice Jamaican artistes calling for change specifically positive change. Social commentary seems to be greatly missing in today’s popular music especially when compared to ‘back in the earlier days’. It seems that music then was more reflective, not just of the situation of the people, (which the artistes are quick to say they speak to now when they sing of graphic violence and life in the inner city), but also reflective of positive things, ringing with messages of hope and inspiration. A lot of that is currently missing from what is now considered popular radio and popular culture. The glorification of the gun remains the central theme in much of today’s musical offerings, and anything that reflects ‘bad man’ and ‘bad man-isim’ is revered and honoured by those on the mic, those behind the mic and those in front of the turntables. In addition, women are now usually reverted to an object of sex with very few people singing of love anymore.

The message to clean-up the music is a good sign. It means that there are some persons willing to accept that the music needs some attention – that the content is filthy. The proof in the pudding however, remains not just in the creation of better songs, but also in having these played, and in turn not only having these songs played but following through the changed messages with lifestyle examples.

Artistes also need to realize the dangers facing our business. From the current world recession which manifests in high ticket prices, to the seeming dearth of new major stars since Sean Paul, Junior Gong, and Shaggy . Our industry needs more international successes. For this to happen however, we need to see more world-friendly music. While it remains important to keep one’s roots when presenting our music to the world, it does no good if those people to whom it is being presented, do not understand.

In addition, we need to make melodies that persons from other cultures can appreciate and dance to, and it should go without saying that we need to ensure that our production standards are world class.

Our music is our way forward. Our music is what unites people the most. Our artistes are therefore thrust into the roles of leaders. They are the ones that people admire and emulate. Perhaps if we can get them to understand and accept the responsibility that comes with this role, then we can see some progress with the music. After that perhaps, we can move on to actually having the artistes work together on various issues, perhaps even sitting down together once in a while to discuss things that collectively affect them and suggesting ways forward.

Perhaps then Jamaican music will move to the place where it rightfully belongs, while benefitting and remaining under the control of Jamaicans, instead of filling the hands and pockets of others who before us have come to recognize and appreciate its true value.

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