More than a week ago, Joss Stone was awarded the Reggae Billboard Artiste of the Year. Certainly, eyebrows were raised about the legitimacy of Stone’s status as a reggae artiste. Dancehall DJ Bounty Killer took to social media to critique this development, and he directed most of his frustration at the Jamaican Government for its failure to promote and develop reggae.
It would be great to see the Jamaican Government capitalize on the island’s music as a profitable resource in a similar manner as it has done with tourism. The thing that is missing from this discourse is the Jamaican Government’s total lack of power to transform how the music industry has for centuries used white faces to economically exploit and rebrand Black culture.
Within a Jamaican context, the economic exploitation of reggae took place at the onset with white and Asian ownership of the infrastructure while working-class Black Jamaicans served as the raw talent. The popular Jamaican film The Harder They Come best exemplifies this power relation and the exploitation of Black Jamaicans in the early inception of Jamaican music industry.
Read more of this interesting article by Dr. Lisa Tomlinson, Cultural Critic and Language Specialist here