Friday 28 February, 2020

A view from the outside: Thank you dancehall

Munga Honorable performs at Reggae Sumfest Festival Night One last Friday.

Munga Honorable performs at Reggae Sumfest Festival Night One last Friday.

With Karyl Walker

In my previous column, I beseeched the dancehall artistes who were billed for Reggae Sumfest to ensure that paying patrons got their money’s worth. They did just that.

Thank you, dancehall. 

Festival Night One inside Catherine Hall at Montego Bay, St James on Friday night was a breath of fresh air and displayed the dancehall industry in a positive light. 

Dancehall is alive and well. There are, of course, kinks to be ironed out, but for the most part the genre was well represented and one can only hope that, going forward, its gets better.

It was however disappointing that, after witnessing their more experienced co workers put on an exhilarating display of stagecraft and performances, that some of the proponents of modern dancehall decided to sink into the abyss of ‘gun’ lyrics and profanity.

That may have been the most influential factor which prompted the police to call a halt to such a major festival which had generated much needed life into the economy of the 'Second City'.

Downsound Records' Cordel ‘Skatta’ Burrell is quoted as saying all hotel rooms were booked and there was no rental vehicle available during the week of the festival. The police were fully aware of those statistics and maybe was the reason they allowed an extension of two and a half hours past the scheduled lock off time.

It is that the police made their decision due to the lyrics that started to flow out of the representatives of modern dancehall’s mouths?

One can only wonder.

That apart, it was refreshing to experience the best that dancehall had to offer. Munga Honorable, Spragga Benz, Elephant Man, Agent Sasco, Beenie and Bounty or Moses and Rodney, Spice, Dexta Dapps, Chronixx and Koffee (though not classified as dancehall artistes), Govana, Aidonia, and Harry Toddler among others gave a real, good look at how dancehall is supposed to be presented and it was well appreciated.

Now that the standard has been set and the bar raised, one hopes that the younger generation of artistes will take a deep, hard look within and realise that the music business is never about oneself but the public who consumes your product. 

Respect their dollar and return the love and admiration they have shown you.

That said, dancehall now needs to produce a quality singer. One has to use a large magnifying glass and search far and wide throughout the industry to find a singer in dancehall presently.

Are singers no longer needed in today’s version of dancehall?

That is my view from the outside.

Karyl Walker is a multi-award-winning journalist who has worked for Loop Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer, the RJR Communications Group and Nationwide Radio among other media entities. He now resides in South Florida.The opinions expressed in this column represent the views of the writer and not necessarily that of Loop News.

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