Skip to main content

What reggae's first Radio 1 playlist in ten years tells me about reggae. Big up Protoje

Once again, I'd like to say mainstream approval is not the be all and end all, however it provides a very important cog in getting my favourite artists the ears they deserve. If a reggae song has the quality and steam to go forward and benefit from the exposure a national radio station, the biggest radio station UK can give, why shouldn't it be taken advantage of? As long as they hold their rights, own their stuff and aren't manipulated out of shape by the industry, I'm all for it. Give them their dues.

Why hold everyone in a corner? It ain't for everyone, but for those who can benefit and help shine a light, go bring that light, bruv. I'm much more against making good music have to jump loads and loads of obstacles because of dated thinking, lack of resources afforded to independents and lack of opportunities given to non-US/UK/EU/AUS music. Fix that.

I'd also like to take a moment to say I gave Protoje his first mainstream mention in 2012 (alongside Konshens, Tarrus Riley, Etana and Popcaan) because I believed in him back then and continue to believe in him now. This is not a case of the bandwagon jumper.

So yeah, Protoje featuring Chronixx "Who Knows" is on the Radio 1 playlist. There are levels, this isn't the first to be on the Radio 1 playlist as Kiko Bun "Sometimes" and "Where I'm From" were on the In New Music We Trust section. Shy FX's Liam Bailey-assisted "Soon Come" was also on the same bit. Those songs don't get anywhere near the same play (in theory) as a full playlist - on the A, B and C. If the INMWT one gives you something like 5 plays a week, C-list is supposed to give like 2-a-day. I can't remember the exact figures but a something like so. INMWT feels a lot more like a nod to the under-represented, whereas a proper playlist suggests it is good enough to sit alongside the best music right now.

Anyone who knows "Who Knows" as last year's undeniably biggest reggae song of the year, knows it should've got it last year. It goes to show the lengths a reggae artist must jump though, because they may not have accepted it or understood the magnitude of the record back then. This year, however, Proto has done one sold out show in March and one tour in October, received press coverage from mainstream stuff like Noisey, Fader, Independent etc., topped the reggae album chart in US, nominated for Best Reggae at the MOBOs and the video sits on 13 million views. Who would dare say no now?

But that's the levels it takes for an independently-distributed reggae song to get anywhere. Make it undeniable. It works on dance floors. They call this the reggae revival which I don't really like but I did used to complain and complain about the lack of dance floor-friendly reggae songs. For about five years we had coffee shop, lift music, north coast all-inclusive hotel brunch time riddims. Stuff you'd sway and click fingers to while chatting to someone over a tropical cocktail.

The new lot have helped reggae back to the dance floor. Chronixx 'Here Comes Trouble' is an empty dance floor filler and peak of the party hand raiser. And that's to all ages and races. I've seen it work in different settings with my own eyes. (Note: it enjoyed quite a few plays on Radio 1 specialist shows and would've been playlisted if tea Chronixx wanted it to.) 'Who Knows' is also something that can play in the dance. And even though it refers to a previous time in 80s dancehall with Junjo Lawes, that style wasn't over exposed, therefore it feels current. The lyrics of the song don't fit in the "heard it all before" reggae category neither.

The last Jamaican reggae song to make the Radio 1 playlist was Damian Marley's 'Welcome To Jamrock' in 2005. There have been plenty of others fitting crossover market based on dance floor reaction such as Tarrus Riley 'She's Royal', Jah Cure 'Call On Me', Pressure 'Love and Affection' (Virgin Islands artist but Jamaican producer), Marlon Asher 'Ganja Farmer' (ok, maybe not that one) but they weren't acknowledging the heat and those songs probably weren't in the industry (the coverage I spoke about Protoje getting). I always felt 'Beautiful Lady' should've been Gyptian's follow-up to 'Hold You'.

I've always said Protoje 'Rasta Love' is easily a crossover song. Relatable tale delivered well, a Marley on the chorus, riddim palatable to the ears of the mass market etc. Could have a bit more reggae to it though (remix?). I'd love for them to add that as a bonus single to Ancient Future and push to mainstream. 

Ultimately, I feel this playlist add also says a lot about how people in the industry see reggae now. Jamaican music overall. One of last year's biggest global smash hits was 'Rude' by Magic! - a reggae song. This year, Omi delivered what they call a reggae-pop smash. Add Major Lazer 'Lean On' breaking Spotify most played record in history, chart success of VI's R. City 'Locked Away', not forgetting Bruno Mars before that, obviously Rihanna and there's something there about reggae's popularity. You know how the industry classes everything from Jamaica as reggae.

(I've been saying to watch how the door opens for reggae when Rude went number 1 last year. In a backwards way, this is a fruit of that. This is what I meant.)

There's the cool factor from people like Drake, the chart success from those I just mentioned, so it was only a matter of time before the right reggae song gets a chance. A chance I hope the buyers take up and buy the record. Either way, its been out a long time. This is hopefully a good starter for what's to come.

(My favourite song from the album is The Flame featuring Kabaka Pyramid. You can try the album before you buy here)

Most of all, it inspires a next reggae artist who might've thought he or she needed to make r&b/pop-sounding reggae to get anywhere that they can stick with reggae music that pleases the core and push on. But remember, most of all, make music that connects. Because this song would've had a harder time getting anywhere without the approval and push of the 13 million viewers, readers of his work and buyers of his music.

And you can read what I wrote about the reggae revival in 2013 here.

And to all of those naysayers who said "reggae revival" was a fad, a bunch of uptown kids making music they felt for the time being but it was virtually dead in 2014, this ones for you too xxx

p.s. you can check this really insightful reasoning with arguably the most universally respected artist from the new movement, Kabaka Pyramid. He speaks about the reggae revival's strengths but also its weaknesses and how it compares to dancehall. Chats about meeting Protoje and Chronixx for the first time and how they inspired him.

And part one where he speaks on discovering Rasta, discrimination and prejudices, why school is a fallacy and not believing in voting or governments.


Popular posts from this blog

So, Jamaican Music Is Currently Dominating UK Pop Chart

Based on official UK top 100 singles chart week commencing 15th April 1. Drake featuring Wizkid & Kyla Don't listen to the afrobeats or UK funky claims, Drake made a dancehall song with elements of the aforementioned. But I addressed that in the ' Mis-Appreciation of Jamaican Culture ' post. 2. Sia feat. Sean Paul - Cheap Thrills Sidenote: Song declined by Rihanna 5. Zara Larrson - Lush Life Sidenote: Allegedly a song declined by Rihanna. Not sure how true that is. 10. Rihanna feating Drake - Work (peak chart position 2) 13. Major Lazer feat. Nyla & Fuse ODG- Light It Up (peak chart position 7) Sidenote: Nyla is part of Brick & Lace fame. They dropped one of the best written dancehall pop crossover songs ever in Love is Wicked . I believe she's the singer although she singjay's on this. 26. Justin Bieber - Sorry (peak chart position 1) 39. AlunaGeorge feat. Popcaan - I'm In Control 43. Kygo - Stay (peak chart

About Chronixx Somerset House show: this is NOT a review

So basically, I went to Chronixx's show at the prestigious Somerset House on Sunday. Had the time of my life again. Decided I'm not gonna write a review on Monday because what else is there to say? I've seen him five times (six if you include the time babylon locked off proceedings cos of curfew in Jamaica. Seven if you include his appearance at Rebel Salute) and been impressed every time. How do I keep retelling the same story? "You have to see this guy. It is one of the best shows you will experience in these times," will forever be the moral. If you wanna read a review of this show  go here . You can take in my reviews of Chronixx in 2014 and 2013 . If you wanna do that and wanna hear what I've got to say, stay here.

Remember When Riddims Were King

Before you read, thank you for your interest and hope you enjoy. I actually fleshed it out into a book. You can get your copy from   Now for what you came here for... When Riddims Were King 23rd May 2020 will be remembered in history for one of the most epic events in one of our universe's darkest times. We will never forget the night dancehall kings and former extremely heated rivals, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, battled on the Verzuz platform built by hall-of-fame producers, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. An unfiltered, 360-degree view on Jamaican dancehall events was showcased; DJ’s and dancing (Beenie Man’s daughter Desha Ravers) to deejay’s clashing on the same riddims. The latter elements provided the jewels in the night’s highlight reel, and undoubtedly the best thing to happen on the Verzuz series. Word spread like guava jelly within the dancehall community and Jamaican diaspora upon announcement. Not only was it a clash between the longest and fier