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Reggae song tops US & UK pop chart. 1st time since 2001

So, this week is a historical week in the UK singles chart. A reggae song (Magic! - "Rude") moved up a spot to #1, dancehall song (Melissa Steel ft. Popcaan "Kisses for Breakfast") enters the chart at #10,  and an afrobeats song (Fuse ODG ft. Sean Paul - "Dangerous Love") with a dancehall feature co-produced by a Jamaican producer (Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor and, Ghanaian, Killbeatz) is #31. They go on like a reggae song can't be pop anymore.



I don't remember the last time there were so many Jamaicans and explicitly Jamaican-influenced songs in at one time so this calls for a post. A time to remember. Maybe it's the beginning of things to come, could just be a flashpoint, either way it's a moment to note.

That's not even counting pop boy band, Rixton, with their reggae/ska influenced "Me & My Broken Heart" at #12. I don't count the Will.i.am & Cody Wise song "It's My Birthday" (at #9) cos of the samples (Aidonia's 2013 club smash "Fi Di Jockey" and a Bounty Killer), but its just something worth taking note. Last year was the year of sampling dancehall for some reason. They were all over the shop, from Kanye West to Jay Z, Beyonce's (literally) show-stopping Superbowl performance to Justin Bieber's ex, Selena Gomez, sampling Buju Banton.

Going back to the original point anyway, a reggae number 1. PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME A REGGAE SONG HAS TOPPED THE UK & US CHART SIMULTANEOUSLY  SINCE SHAGGY "IT WASN'T ME" in March 2001. AAAND, IT'S THE WEEK OF JAMAICA'S 52ND YEAR OF "INDEPENDENCE". AAAAAAAAND 50 YEARS SINCE JAMAICAN MUSIC'S (ska) FIRST CHART ENTRY IN THE WORLD (#2 in UK), MILLIE SMALLS "MY BOY LOLLIPOP". MOMENT!

Bajan band CoverDrive reached the peak of the UK charts with "Twilight" a dancehall take on pop in 2012, Sean Paul helped girl group The Saturday's achieve their only #1 (dancehall-infused electro record What About Us?) last year but this is the first reggae song to top the charts in years (probably Shaggy "Angel". Someone on Twitter told me I shouldn't call it reggae because its watered down. Told him/her(/troll) those same accusations were thrown at Bob and to do one (I didn't say the "do one" bit). Just because it's a love song, has a lead guitar and isn't made by Jamaicans/Rastafarians, doesn't mean the song isn't reggae.

I  wonder if he'd've said the same thing had this been a Jamaican band or artist…



Which takes me onto another point; I know we'll get the buzzword of the year - "appropriation" - attached to it. Those people definitely need to do one - promptly. Hear why; I highly doubt the artists making the music are cynical enough to think "I'm gonna do black music because I can be more successful than black people doing it." My doubt is even stronger where reggae is concerned. Reggae isn't classed as popular music, it's more on the fringes, so to suggest they're exploiting the music over it being something they like is quite silly to me.

If you know Canada's history and connection with Jamaican music and culture, it's easy to understand why Magic!, Snow, and Drake like/make Jamaican music and culture. Big up man like Kardinall Offishall, Exco Levi and all the others representing.

I mean, are we going to say UB40, The Specials, Madness et al appropriated Jamaican music? Especially when they did more for bygone eras of Jamaican music (namely ska and rocksteady) when many Jamaicans had moved on? And members of these groups continue to do works for Jamaican music through off-shoots projects and DJ sets where they demonstrate their extended knowledge? Once again, when a lot blacks had moved on? Don't get offended, its the truth. If the shoe fits, moggle! ("Model" en Ingles/wear them.)

It's misguided. The people who are more likely to appropriate and exploit the music are the opportunistic record labels who haven't signed or backed a reggae song by a Jamaican artist in years. The creatives are creating. The labels are leeching. But you know, history has shown white people doing reggae music has helped the leeches see there can be a market for reggae in their world. Hopefully



Next song is Melissa Steel's "Kisses for Breakfast". Vocally an r&b song, except it's a dancehall song with a soca bass pattern. Originally pushed to radio (but never officially released) in 2011, this song proves what I say about dancehall songs. Many within the Jamaican music and media industry say there's a lack of good songs and this is reflected by charts globally. That's inaccurate. Good songs alone aren't good enough to chart; money and team (management and label) behind take it to where it goes. They have to see it being viable. They see this by seeing if anybody else is doing it. (You can read more on that in a previous post here.)

Also, I swear this is the first lead black British singer to chart this year? Definitely female-wise. I always ask people why they feel we need an r&b scene, and by that, they mean one which sounds like the American one. R&B is just black people singing about love. Ok, well mane not just that; R&B style vocals are unique too, but essentially its about vocal delivery. Why not bring back lovers rock, ay?

In my opinion, Britain would be better if we took our own way of making sounds. Our dance floors are like no other. The most successful UK r&b-equivalent singers made something different to Americans, whether it was Soul II Soul and Maxi Priest fusing reggae with new jack swing, or Craig David mixing it with garage etc. Even looking at the British charts recently, Angel fused d&b drums, rock guitars and some pop stylings for "Wonderful" and, erm, that's the only example I have because more choose to make American sounds (Rough Copy, couple of Angel's other singles, M.O).

But anyway, give thanks to Jamaica, 'cos without them none of this would even be possible. Not bad for genres nobody likes anymore, ay?

Oh, and let's not forget Chronixx made an entry on the Billboard charts at #179 following his appearance on US TV show Jimmy Fallon. For a bit of perspective, it sold more than Rick Ross, Shakira and JLo's latest albums last week. While the chart position isn't a blockbuster, it's an independent project. Let's remember business is about black and red. Make more than you put in is a win. Oh, and Bob Marley's 30 year-old album, Legend, moved up to #44 in the UK album chart. Give Jamaican reggae and dancehall a try next year, maybe?

Comments

  1. Nice post Marvin. Check out my related blog post http://bradhemmings.blogspot.com/2014/08/reggae-on-billboard-charts-do-you.html and post back in my comments

    ReplyDelete
  2. You make some interesting points and whilst I'd quite agree with your sentiment, I am enlightened by your understanding of chart history and reggae.

    ReplyDelete

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