'Travesty if Snoop wins'
ROGER Steffens, who headed the Grammy Awards Reggae Committee for 27 years, says it would be a travesty if American rapper Snoop Lion won the Best Reggae Album category at next month's show.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Steffens described Snoop as a "pretentious wanna-be". He is also not impressed with nominees for Best Reggae Album who were announced last Friday in Los Angeles.
"I think it would be a travesty if Snoop wins. He, like Matisyahu and many others before him, have used a Rasta-influenced format and warped it toward their own ends," said Steffens.
Snoop (formerly Snoop Dogg) is nominated for Reincarnated. He says his conversion to Rastafari was inspired by a visit to Jamaica in 2012 when he experienced a spiritual awakening while meeting with a group of Rastafarian elders.
Sly and Robbie and the Jam Masters' Reggae Connection, Sizzla's The Messiah, One Love, One Life by Beres Hammond and Ziggy Marley in Concert are the other nominees for Best Reggae Album.
Steffens formed the Reggae Committee and served as its chairman until 2011. He has openly criticised the selection process, claiming that judges favour albums produced by the Marley family.
The Marleys have dominated the category since it was established in 1985. Brothers Ziggy, Damian and Stephen have won Grammys as solo acts, while Ziggy and Steve won multiple times as members of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.
Steffens, considered an authority on Bob Marley and the Wailers, believes this year's nominees maintain the trend of mediocre selections.
"The nominations this year fit into the pocket of name recognition more than anything else, regardless of sales or actual quality," he said.
Reincarnated, with sales of over 80,000 units, is the best selling reggae album for 2013. The year has been poor in terms of sales by Jamaican artistes, with American reggae bands performing better on the Billboard charts.
The Snoop set attracted mass coverage from mainstream media in the United States, due to his conversion from 'gangsta rap' icon to cultural artiste.
The lanky rapper (real name Calvin Broadus) is one of the godfathers of gangsta rap which emerged out of southern California's impoverished communities in the early 1990s with hardcore rap acts such as NWA and Ice T.
The 56th annual Grammy Awards is scheduled for the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on January 26.