Grammys plays it safe
Wayne Jobson offers take on 2023 nods
Music insider Wayne Jobson

VETERAN music industry insider Wayne Jobson believes the controversy of SOJA winning the 2022 Best Reggae Album category may have caused the non-selection of an American act for next year's Grammy Awards.

Last April, SOJA became the first American artiste to win the category, sparking outrage in reggae circles. This year, the five nominees are Jamaican, which does not surprise Jobson.

"I think there was a backlash against American reggae after SOJA won this year, so they wanted to make sure that it was Jamaican because of all the controversy that SOJA caused. But the American reggae artistes are keeping the flame burning and doing an amazing job. Highest respect to Stick Figure, Rebelution, SOJA and Slightly Stoopid," he told the Jamaica Observer.

Jobson, a Jamaican, is largely responsible for breaking American reggae. He was among the first disc jockeys to play the music of bands such as SOJA on KROQ 106.7 FM in Los Angeles.

The 2023 nominees for Best Reggae Album were announced on Tuesday in Los Angeles. The all-Jamaican cast is Gifted (Koffee), Scorcha (Sean Paul), The Kalling (Kabaka Pyramid), Third Time's The Charm (Protoje), and Com Fly Wid Mi (Shaggy).

Interestingly, Wisdom by Stick Figure missed the cut. The California band's eighth album has sold more copies than the nominees and in the week of its release in September, removed Bob Marley and The Wailers' Legend from its customary number one position on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart.

In order to avoid a recurrence of the SOJA blowback, Jobson said the Grammy people played it safe.

"The reggae Grammy vote always has to do with emotions as well as how good the record is. Shaggy and Sean Paul have done so much for reggae worldwide that this is also an achievement nomination for them as well as for how good the record is. Protoje and Kabaka Pyramid are carrying the message of conscious reggae around the world, so their vote is for keeping reggae gun- and filth-free. And Koffee has the youth and female vote as well as being very talented and having the fire in her eyes," he noted.

Albums by American acts like SOJA, Stick Figure, Rebelution, and The Green have consistently outsold their Jamaican counterparts in the last 10 years. Stick Figure and Rebelution's efforts are perennially in the Billboard Reggae Albums chart Top 10.

The 65th annual Grammy Awards are scheduled for February 5th in Los Angeles.

Wayne Jobson
Music insider Wayne Jobson
Howard Campbell

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