by Jodee Brown
There’s a growing uproar within the Dancehall community following confirmation that no artiste representing the popular Jamaican genre will be represented at an upcoming Jamaica 50 concert in England.
One of the major events to take place in honor of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of events will be the Respect Jamaica 50thconcert series, scheduled to take place concurrently with the 2012 Olympics in London. The series, conceptualized viaAEG Live, runs from July 25-August 6 at the O2 Arena in London and features 50 Jamaica artistes, dub poets and bands.
However, one notable absence from the lineup is that of Dancehall as no artistes representing the prominent genre will feature on the Respect Jamaica 50th bill. This was confirmed during a recent interview on TVJ’s Entertainment Report by AEG Live president, Rob Hailett, who insisted that Dancehall music doesn’t necessarily work in every environment.
“I’m very pleased to see Reggae coming back with the reaffirmation of Morgan Heritage, young bands like Raging Fyah. I think it’s a good thing for the music globally because Dancehall doesn’t really work everywhere. I, personally, love it, but it’s not the kind of music that is consumer-friendly as a Raging Fyah who, to me, follow in the footsteps of Bob Marley,” Hailett said.
However, several Dancehall artistes are angered by the decision not to feature the genre on the Jamaica 50 event, including superstar deejay, Konshens, who believes its the ultimate slap in the face to an important part of the island’s culture.
“I think that’s a slap in the face to all Dancehall artistes. Whoever a organize dat nuh appreciate wah Dancehall do over the years. Dem nuh respect Dancehall artistes fi wah dem do over the 50 years since Jamaica got Independence,”Konshens told the Jamaica Gleaner.
Legendary Dancehall superstar, Bounty Killer echoed Konshens’ sentiment while fellow, prominent Jamaican entertainer, Mr. Vegas believes that while Reggae music will forever hold its place as the island’s most identifiable genre, Dancehall still plays a very important role within the island’s culture.
“God go wid dem. Jamaica land we love same way, big disrespect that still,” Bounty Killer told the Gleaner.
Additionally, Mr. Vegas intimated that, “Reggae music is the umbrella. Sean Paul, Beenie Man and others go out in the world and promote dancehall artistes worldwide, it is ridiculous not to have dancehall artistes on the show. It is ok for the organiser to have a preference, but for him to do that is just ridiculous. Dancehall is a part of Jamaica’s culture,”
Meanwhile, another noteworthy absence from Respect Jamaica 50th lineup is that of women as Reggae superstar,Queen Ifrica pointed out. The Times Like These singer stated that she and fellow Reggae stalwart, Tony Rebel were axed from the lineup after originally being slated to perform at the London-based concert.
“We were supposed to be on that show and they took us off. Copeland Forbes was the one who consulted with us, and then we didn’t hear anything after that. Jamaica is celebrating 50 years so there must be stages to the line-up. Queen Ifrica fi deh pon a show like that. Etana, Tanya Stephens and Lady Saw should also be on that show. Where are the artistes like Everton Blender, Anthony B, Capleton, Sister Nancy, Brigadier Jerry? Where is I-Octane and Assassin?” Queen Ifrica queried.
“In 2012, you should even have Potential Kidd representing this stage of the business. You can’t leave anything out. Dem need fi stop trick the Jamaican people into denying themselves.”
For his part, Tony Rebel believes that Dancehall artistes should have been included to prove that positive connotations can be attached to the genre.
“Dancehall is a product of Jamaican music. Those who exclude dancehall are very wrong. There are positive aspects of dancehall and it should be represented in the show. It looks like the era of the 1980s-2000s are missing from the line up. I would have loved to see Cocoa Tea, Lt Stichie, Admiral Bailey and Tony Rebel on that show,” he said.
“I don’t see why I’m not on that line-up. I think those who made the choice could have done better consultations. Mi deh London right now and me did a look forward fi deh pon the show. We deh ya a represent Jamaica right now, so why we can’t represent Jamaica 50?”
However, internationally acclaimed Dancehall diva, Spicepoints to an even bigger problem: That Jamaicans aren’t fully supporting their own genre, which negatively resonates locally and creates a similar effect overseas.
“It’s a depressing feeling. This country does not support dancehall music, so when other countries don’t support it, what is left for me to say? We don’t celebrate or support dancehall music and it is a part of our culture.”
Jamaica entertainers who are slated to perform during theRespect Jamaica 50th series include Shaggy, Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, John Holt, Jimmy Cliff, Yellow Man and Mutaburaka, amongst several others.