When corporate and control-system meddling and subversion has been present in every other popular music genre, why would anyone reasonably expect things to have been any different in Reggae – a music and culture which has captivated many millions of fans and followers all over the world?
Here to discuss the various manipulations is the New York-based author, lecturer and black cultural studies scholar R.A Ptahsen, more commonly known as Rodney Shabazz. He offers a masterclass overview of how reggae music evolved out the earlier Ska and Rocksteady styles, (and before that, mento music,) and how all remain rooted in African cultural traditions. We also discuss how Reggae represents a culture and a lifestyle beyond the music, intrinsically linked to the Rastafari religion and the deification of the long-time Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie, and the ceremonial smoking of marijuana.
Dr. Shabazz casts a critical eye over the emergence of the Reggae sub-genre known as Dancehall which appeared in the 1980s, its lyrics rooted in vulgarity, and which largely replaced conscious message-music as the pre-dominant expression of the music. This occurred soon after the untimely deaths of Bob Marley and Inner Circle’s Jacob Miller, with Peter Tosh’s demise following a few years later, and Dr. Shabazz raises suspicions about three of the most politically active of Jamaica’s musicians all meeting early ends. We re-visit aspects of Bob Marley’s terminal cancer. Also coming under scrutiny are Chris Blackwell, founder of the hugely influential, Island Records, and David Rodigan, the immensely popular British Reggae DJ. With both coming from white, privileged backgrounds and military links, is there more to know about how they achieved their respective prominent positions than first meets the eye?
The Harvard Business School report into manipulating the black music scene of the early 1970s, as commissioned by Columbia Records Group and refernced in the interview, is discussed in this article: