Dancehall + Roots=Vibes

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Freddie McGregor, RastafarI and Dancehall

in Reggae News by

Freddie Mcgregor celebrated his 60th birthday this week. He’s had a vibrant career contributing to reggae and dancehall over the course of almost 6 decades. Mcgregor is among the likes of Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, Judy Mowatt and others who in time joined the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Freddie’s popularity soared in the early 80’s with the release of Bobby Bobylon and hits like Big Ship, Push Comes to Shove, Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely (a UK top ten hit) and I Was Born a Winner.

The establishment of the Big Ship Label in 1983 is possibly one of Freddie’s most lasting contributions to the industry. The label has gone on to produce for artists like Papa San, Lieutenant Stitchie, Tiger, Luciano and Mickey Spice. His Son Stephen seriously intends to keep up with his father’s legacy having produced countless contemporary dancehall/reggae hits. This year Stephen contributed to Shakira’s latest album. In 2013 Freddie received a Marcus Garvey Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Caribbean Studies.

RastaFaraI and Dancehall

There is no doubt that Rastafarianism has played a major role in defining Jamaica’s identity. Almost everything which makes Jamaica so different from the host of islands that dot the globe is Rastafarianism and reggae music. Many tourists still believe Jamaica’s national colours are red, green and gold. While these colors have been rightly appropriated from the Abyssinian flag to signify the movements imperial sovereignty and direct association with His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie (Ras Tafari).

The early 90’s saw an upsurge of interest in Rastafarianism. Perhaps it was due to a collective rise in black nationalism that surged after the widely publicized Rodney King incident, Spike Lee movies and Hip Hop music which began to reflect more and more nationalistic content. It appears simultaneously reggae and dancehall saw its own resurgence of nationalism as popular dancehall deejays like Capleton and Buju Banton began growing locks and infusing Africa and Rasta tenets into their tunes.

It seems music coming from Africans in the diaspora may follow common fluctuations of highs and lows in terms of culturally conscious content. Whether its Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Garnett Silk’s Christ in his Kingly Character or Buju’s Til Shiloh, there is a consistent common thread that seems to begin to lean towards something more than the money, love, power and sexual prowess subject matter that experiences popularity spikes throughout music’s ongoing history.

Reggae Routes: The Story of Jamaican Music

¿Qué es Dancehall?

in Reggae News/World by

El Dancehall es un género de música, estilo de baile y cultura que se originó hacia finales 1970 en Jamaica como resultado de los nuevos factores políticos y socio-económicos que habían surgido en el país. Durante este tiempo las ideologías neoliberales y materialistas fueron el factor dominante en la vida de muchos jamaiquinos.
El Dancehall como música es un derivado del reggae, otro género jamaicano originado en los años 60.

Ambos estilos tendrán una gran relación, pero no en sus bases culturales ya que son consideradas contraculturales.Este género unido a la danza se caracteriza por ser un baile muy sensual, con claras referencias a la danza africana y caribeña, y actualmente en Jamaica es un baile social, que se ejecuta siguiendo los pasos que las canciones van nombrando o incluso se mezclan con movimientos de HipHop muchos más enérgicos.

¿Por qué Dancehall?

Este estilo debe su nombre a los dance halls (salas de baile) donde se reproducían la música popular jamaiquina y la gente con menos dinero que no podía acceder a las salas más acomodadas acudían.Inicialmente, el Dancehall era una versión del reggae llena de “espacio”, a diferencia de otros estilos mucho más recargados. Hacia mediados de los años 80 la instrumentación en este estilo se hizo más rápido cambiando a sonidos más rápidos.Los años 90 fueron la completa conexión entre el dancehall y la cultura Rastafari.

Cuando el gobierno socialista de Michael Manley fue reemplazado por el político de derecha Edward Seaga las temáticas de injusticia social, repatriación y el movimiento Rastafari fueron sustituidas por letras sobre violencia y sexualidad, lo cual ha sido crítica durante muchos años debido a la perdida de la esencia lírica y temática del Dancehall. Esta nueva situación en el país llevó incluso a la muerte de varios deejays en la ciudad de Kingston.

En 1992 en contraposición de este nuevo tipo de Dancehall y más en concreto sobre el tema homófobo “Boom Bye Bye” de Banton se creó el denominado “ragga consciente” un nuevo movimiento social que agrupó a cantantes y deejays como Garnett Silk, Rocker T, Tony Rebel,Sanchez, Luciano, Anthony B y Sizzla con la intención de volver a las raíces de este género, los “roots”.

Los primeros años 2000 vieron alcanzar el éxito a toda una nueva ola de grupos y artistas como Elephant Man y Sean Paul. Actualmente son los artistas más relevantes de este estilo musical es el español Swan Fyahbwoy y Lion Sitte.


Pasos básicos de Dancehall


Como ya hemos mencionado en la introducción, el Dancehall como baile se basa en una coreografía formada por pasos que se nombran en la canción y que se repiten varias veces. Los pasos suelen ir muy ligados a su cultura e incluso hay movimientos que representan acciones cotidianas de la vida como barrer o tender la ropa. A continuación se muestran videos con algunos de los pasos básicos actuales de este estilo de baile. source



Note: This is just a great, simple yet thorough history into the core of the culture en espanol. Bravo telocuentobailando! Bravo indeed.

The Chancellor

Billboard names top 5 Carib Fests

in Reggae News by

Among them is JA’s vintage Reggae Sunsplash officiated Reggae Sumfest the Greatest Reggae Show on Earth now in its 25th year. This year’s staging will feature Jamaican dancehall star Sean Paul, American-Jamaican R&B/hip-hop artist Sean Kingston and Canadian R&B singer Torey Lanez.  Jamaica’s own Rebel Salute and Jazz and Blues Fest also made Billboard’s list.

My personal favorite Rebel Salute was founded in 1994 by Tony Rebel as a celebration of his birthday, the two-night event is inclusive of all Jamaican music but emphasizes roots, culture and lover’s rock vibes with a strict no meat no alcohol policy. When the event outgrew its St. Elizabeth venue St. Ann became it’s permanent home.

Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival has seen the likes of international icons like Diana Ross, Alicia Keys, and Mariah Carey as well as top-tier reggae talents like Shaggy and Ziggy Marley.  Celine Dion who has an unusually expansive Jamaican following drew a reported 27,000 patrons in 2012.

Just a baby on the list birthed just last year, Pure Grenada Music Festival seemed poised to make it’s distinct mark on the Carib’s festival destination watch-list. Last year’s floating stage sounds pretty extravagant for an island with just 100,000 population. Joss Stone, Etana, Jessie Royal and Mr. Killa made memorable appearances that got things buzzing. This year’s show which took place just 3 weeks ago featured Tarrus Riley, Third World and The Grenadian steel pan Orchestra, the Pan Wizards .

“We intend to promote Grenadian artists on an international stage and establish Grenada as a music tourism destination,” says Arlene Friday, Festival Coordinator, Head of Marketing and PR.

Next Stop

Over the past 21 years the St. Kitts Music Festival has delivered dynamic festival experiences. Every year it’s a balancing act — what combination of acts can we put together that will make international audiences want to come to St. Kitts and also satisfy a local audience? The Chairman of the St. Kitts Festival Artist Selection Committee told Billboard. 

In 2016 Dexta Daps, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Kes  and 50 Cent were featured on the line up. The festivities continue this year with Goo Goo Dolls and Shabba Ranks alongside  a soca band clash between St. Kitts’ own Grand Masters and Small Axe Band.

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