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Tony Rebel makes plea to cleanse dancehall

By Steven Jackson Observer writer

Friday, January 08, 2010

Germany's Adolf Hitler, France and the US taught the world about violence and sex charged event organiser Tony Rebel in a plea to cleanse dancehall of explicit lyrics.

Explicit dancehall, his argument suggested was not marketable in Europe and contributed to poor US sales in 2009.

"You can't preach violence in music and expect the people of Germany to accept it. Because Hitler already show them what violence is. You cannot teach the French and the Americans about sex. A dem mek it," Rebel who spoke at the recent launch of Rebel Salute stated.

The top deejays of 2009 were Mavado and Vybz Kartel whose explicit recordings and tribalised fans fuelled the 'gully versus gaza' divide. But Kartel and former mentor Bounty Killer also traded lyrical curses along with Flippa Mafia and Elephant Man. The music remained mainly underground but formed the subtext of poor sales in 2009: A year in which no dancehall artiste sold over 80,000 copies in the US market, according to Soundscan, the sales tracker of music and video products throughout North America. Last week rising deejay Ra Deal defended artistes and blamed record company mismanagement and negative publicity for the decline in the music industry.

Rebel added: "What they love about us, is when them going through hardship and terrible times dem hear 'don't worry about a ting'. That is what they want...don't apologise for endorsing and loving and support the real authentic side of Jamaica music."

International reggae charts continue to be dominated by non Jamaican reggae artistes. For instance iTunes reggae charts in Japan, Germany and New Zealand, on January 1, had only one Jamaican-born artiste -- Bob Marley -- in the top ten, signalling to some pundits that Jamaica is losing influence on reggae.

Top sellers in the US market were Sean Paul's Imperial Blaze (Atlantic Records), Matisyahu's Light (Epic Records) and Reggae Gold (VP Records), which sold some 69,700, 56,700 and 40,000 respectively in North America. Conscious reggae group Morgan Heritage and dancehall producer-turned-singer Serani, made first week sales of 300 and 1,200 units respectively, but were still able to chart on Billboard.

According to Rebel, the line-up of the 2010 staging of Rebel Salute includes the London-based Steel Pulse, Queen Ifrica, Tarrus Riley, Etana, Capleton, Alaine, Marion Hall (aka Lady Saw), Sasco (aka Assassin), Richie Spice, I-Octane, Brown Sugar, Stream, Romain Virgo, Noddy Virtue, Hezron, Bugle, Ras Penco, I-Wayne, Gramps Morgan (from Morgan Heritage), Jah Mason, Stevie Face, Chevaughn and C Sharp, Freddie McGregor, Junior Murvin, Singing Melody, Leroy Gibbons, Daddy U-Roy, Pinchers, Peter Metro, Ronnie Davis of the Itals' fame from which a member David Isaacs died recently, and many others.