top of page

They’ve taken our culture - Industry players debate whether foreigners ‘stealing’ Jamaican music

The age-old argument that reggae and dancehall have been stolen by other cultures, was re-hashed at a recent entertainment forum.

In a discussion held at The Gleaner's North Street offices, panellists were at loggerheads as they outlined the pros and cons of reggae being adopted by foreigners.

While some argued that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, others dubbed the adoption of reggae as downright thievery.

"Look at what's happening in the Latin market with reggaeton. Reggaeton is a perfect example of what the Spanish have done with reggae," said sound system owner and operator DJ Squeeze. "They've taken our culture and have now established it as their own and it's a huge industry. These big machines they are the ones that raped the industry. That's why Reggae Month is important because they'll just continue to take it from us and we need to keep it alive."


But while entertainment executive Maxine Stowe agreed that Jamaica should do everything to maintain its strong hold on reggae, she does not believe what other countries are doing is equivalent to stealing.

"They didn't rape (the industry). They saw economic opportunities and they took it. Nobody stopped you from doing that," she said. "We can identify reggae music anywhere it is being played, no matter what is added to it. The authentic product will always be Jamaican and so if we assess our market and we study the weaknesses and the gaps in our market, then we can start to compete."

Chairman of the Entertainment Advisory Board, Howard McIntosh, says other cultures adopting reggae music should never be seen as a negative for the genre.

"There's a lot of discussion about the fact that reggae is being played by all these people and that lots of people have been making claims to it. We should own that up. We shouldn't be criticising people for grabbing on to something that works," he said. "The fact of the matter is, many of the times, it's people on the outside who see the opportunities that really exist and that's a reality. We love the fact that reggae now spans all markets. I would argue more reggae is being played now than at any other time in our history."

He said that he didn't blame persons when they take advantage of economic opportunities.

"I don't blame the Government, I don't blame the private sector, I don't even beat up on us, the people. I see that from an industry perspective, we are at an embryonic stage of our development as it relates to recognition of the music and entertainment industry, and the fact that other persons have recognised it, has forced us to start to take notice," he said.

"For the first time, captains of industries are beginning to ask questions that will develop the entertainment industry. We're late, but now it is for us to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented," McIntosh said.

6 views0 comments


bottom of page