On a positive note


Monday, May 12, 2014    

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SOMETIMES, I truly believe that Jamaicans derive great pleasure from receiving bad news and making dire predictions. This is quite an ironic assessment of a people considered to be among the happiest in the world.

What is interesting is that while we endeavour to berate ourselves and our efforts, foreigners continue to find favour with the fruits of our imagination.

I am indeed happy to note the intense rotation being given to a Reebok commercial currently being aired on television across the United States featuring Bam Bam, a track produced by the legendary Winston Riley (now deceased), with Sister Nancy on vocals.

The inclusion of this track in this high-profile advertising campaign is once again a testimony to the enduring international appeal of Jamaican music and its symbols. We will recall that Puma, a rival to Reebok, has reaped rich benefits through its association with Jamaican athletics and the phenomenal Usain Bolt.

The fact is that Jamaican music is considered cool in most parts of the world and has long infiltrated mainstream popular culture both positively and negatively.

It is incontrovertible that there are negative aspects to the dancehall culture. However, to embark on a campaign to denounce the entire genre and not just its problematic features is counter-productive.

Many have conflated dancehall with decadence and debauchery. This is as simplistic as characterising Jamaicans as violent and homophobic

based on the behaviour of a few

of our nationals. We need to be

more discerning.

What is interesting about us, Jamaicans, is that culturally we have been so fortunate that we have had the luxury of being able to discount and ignore internationally recognised aspects of our heritage. Dennis Howard and Wayne Chen have been constantly reminding us that Dub pioneered by such Jamaican legends as King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry has been an unacknowledged influence on much of mainstream music culture today. Many nations with far more economic power than we have can only look in awe at our cultural impact. I never stop telling those who wish to hear, that Hip Hop is a Jamaican music form.

Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson recently reminded his audience, at the launch of Something Special — an album described as a pianist interpretation of Ska — that Jamaicans have not paid sufficient respect to that genre epitomised by the legendary Skatalites. He informed his audience that elements of this famous aggregation are still traversing the farthest reaches of the globe and exciting diverse audiences though now with only one surviving member of the original band.

Harold Davis is to be

applauded for his fine work on this project which includes some notable collaborations.

The foregoing are positive developments and we need to accentuate them. It is only when the good becomes normative that we will have the kind of society in which we want to raise our children. My fear is that as a society, we could become too consumed by the negatives to which we are exposed in our daily lives. Let us strike a positive note.

— cpamckenzie@gmail.com





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