'Don't call it Reggae'

'Don't call it Reggae'

Observer senior reporter

Thursday, February 11, 2021

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RADIO broadcaster/show promoter George “GT” Taylor says a lot of the contemporary music produced is being incorrectly labelled as reggae.

“I hate when they call these new forms of music reggae, because reggae is not just about using a computer and a keyboard to create a rhythm. It is a lot more than that, because a lot has gone into creating and sustaining this music, which has done more for raising the consciousness of people around the world than any other,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

The veteran broadcaster, who has worked more than three decades on IRIE FM, said that reggae has suffered from the intrusion of new styles, including Afro and Latin beats.

“But, they are not reggae. We want reggae to be preserved as the 20th-century music which brought together strings and horns and drums and bass and harmonies, and things like that which not thrill people, but also sends a message about genuine love and respect and justice, and all those things real life is about,” he said.

”We will continue to listen to and play these new forms and new beats, because our young people are listening to them and dancing to them, but they must admit that it is not reggae, not even dancehall. So all they need to do is to find a new name for it.”

“I have nothing against computerised music. Young people love dancing to them, they love the beats and nothing is wrong with that. But, we need to preserve reggae like we preserve R&B, soul, rock and country & western as prestige music, and not a beat that gets tiring after a while,” he continued.

Taylor said the “mislabelling error” has been compounded by the American Recording Academy, which hosts the annual Grammy Awards.

“You cannot have a reggae album without reggae music, and it is unfair to our musicians and singers to compete with more modern and trendy music under the label of reggae. Come up with a new category for those 'beats' that so many people are dancing to. We have no problem with that, because our music has been through many changes — from mento to ska, to rocksteady, to reggae, to dancehall — but the new music must identify itself... but I think the Grammy people should not identify them as reggae, but find a new name for them,” he argued.

The disc jock and organiser of GT Taylor Christmas Extravaganza in his hometown St Elizabeth said he would continue playing this newly labelled reggae music but feels it's a disservice to the pioneers.

“We are saying that it is not fair to the musicians and entertainers who created and nurtured reggae music to international recognition. They deserve to be honoured for producing such a successful music form, which has survived most other forms by relating to the basic nature of life as people like Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Hibbert, Peter Tosh, Beres Hammond, and Bunny Wailer did,” he added.

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