Lost Identity - Rodigan says music lacks creativity

INFLUENTIAL British reggae historian and sound system selector David Rodigan believes contemporary Jamaican music suffers from a lack of original ideas and creativity.

According to Rodigan, the music has lost its identity.

“The reason young Jamaican artistes are not making an impact internationally is because many of them are too busy trying to emulate rhythms and productions that they see on MTV and BET videos,” Rodigan told the Observer.

“Consequently they are making pop, R&B and hip hoptype rhythms voiced with Jamaican accents, but that is not distinctive enough to make them stand out as being significant and different,” he added.

However, he does not feel all is lost.

“The root of the problem is that young Jamaican artistes are spellbound by the potential hype in a pop music world which is in itself sterile and manufactured. Can you honestly imagine Aretha Franklin singing in her bra and panties ... No! Yet that is what most of today's “stars” do in order to become more outrageous and attract more media attention,” said Rodigan.

The solution, he says, is for young Jamaican artistes to learn their musical history and be more aware of what made original reggae and dancehall so popular.

On his home turf in London, Rodigan said the dancehall market is not as vibrant as its heyday of the 1980s and 1990s. This, he attributes to the new style of music coming out of Jamaica.

“It only has a limited appeal. Roots rock, rub-a-dub style sessions and old school lovers rock and revival sessions are still very popular in the UK,” he said.

Second generation Jamaicans living in the United Kingdom are more interested in creating their own distinctive music such as house, grime, dub step and drum and bass rather than following the trends in Jamaica.

David Rodigan has been a force in British reggae for over 35 years. He says he keeps his adrenaline flowing by seeking out and discovering new and exciting music, balancing it with classical reggae and dancehall grooves.

Rodigan was born on a military base in Hannover, Germany. He fell in love with Jamaican music in the 1960s and developed a successful career which was at its peak during the 1980s and 1990s.

Along the way, he has chalked up several awards including induction into the Sony Radio Academy Hall Of Fame in 2006. He also won the Sony Radio Academy Gold Award for 'Best Specialist Music Programme' in 2009 for his Sunday night Kiss show Rodigan's Reggae.

Recently, he was awarded the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to broadcasting. He is still with Kiss 100 FM and can be heard Sundays at 11:00 pm.

Rodigan will also be heading to Jamaica later this year to play at World Clash Jamaica.


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