ARGUBLY the most provocative presentation during last week's International Reggae Conference at the University of the West Indies (Mona) came from Dr Michael Barnett.
From the UWI lecturer's perspective, Jamaican music is in crisis. During his presentation Friday, Barnett bemoaned the decline of a Rastafarian influence which accounts for the absence of values in contemporary dancehall.
"When you remove the Rastafari ethos from the music you have very little to say. Materialism is being celebrated instead of moral values. What value system the current dancehall music is promoting?" Barnett asked.
"What is clear," he continued, "is the music has transitioned into immorality."
To emphasise his position, the Rastafarian academic played a few lines of singjay Tommy Lee Sparta's controversial hit song Uncle Demon.
Barnett also cited the over-dependence on technology for the lack of "soulfulness" in the music.
"I feel that the over-reliance on technology contributed to the drop in standard in dancehall music that is currently being produced," he reasoned. "We have seen a departure of drum and bass."
The conference was staged from February 14-16 by the Institute of Caribbean Studies at the UWI.