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Donna Hope, International Reggae: Current and Future Trends in Jamaican Popular Music

Dennis Howard
p. 203-205
Référence(s) :

Donna Hope (ed.), International Reggae: Current and future trends in Jamaican Popular Music, London, Pellican Books, 2013

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1The book International Reggae: Current and Future Trends in Jamaican Popular Music is an edited collection of papers presented at the 2010 International Reggae Conference hosted by the Institute of Caribbean Studies and Reggae Studies Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona. The International Reggae Conference is a biennial academic conference that facilitates multiple and international discourses on various perspectives on Jamaican popular music and culture, both locally and internationally.

2Section 1, “Cultural Interpretations,” deals with the various readings and uses of dancehall and reggae music as they cross borders. According to Ellen Kohlings and Pete Lilly, authors of Riddim Magazine, In Europe and specifically Germany, the view of reggae and dancehall has changed from the “One love” philosophy promoted by Bob Marley’s music to “One Hate.” As the themes of cultural relativity and ethnocentrism are tacitly discussed, homophobia in reggae and dancehall lyrics are analysed within Europe as inciting violence against homosexuals. Hope’s empirical paper “Dancehall Violence & Jamaican Youth,” reports that the link between violence, reggae and dancehall music is insignificant. While on the other side Tomlinson shows how Jamaican popular music is used to reinforce a positive Jamaican identity, especially in Canada where many second generation Jamaican youths struggle with issues of belonging.

3Section 2, “Gendered Ruminations,” incites a battle of the sexes debate, with an in-depth analysis of Tanya Stephen’s lyrical prowess, how she can either emasculate a man or make one, and the fact that this is almost blasphemous to Christian philosophy. The theory of language identity is a refreshing analysis by Dawkins, who applies a linguistic perspective to dancehall music, and should act to silence the disparaging comments on the genre as being “unintelligent foolishness.”

4A book of trends in Jamaican popular music would not be complete without a historiography of music genres. Section 3, “Musical Conversations,” is perfect example of that, as it documents many important junctures, influences and contributors to Jamaican music. Although it minimally discusses the effects of technology, the integral role of radio as a disseminator is explored in a peculiar way by Webster-Prince, who shows that indeed Jamaican popular music has influenced Jamaican identity.

The final section, entitled “Reggae/Rasta International,” identifies the internationalization of Jamaican music through reggae and Jamaican culture through Rastafari, and how the music and culture are consistently promulgated by foreigners, even while having their roots in Jamaica, to which many artists, musicians, enthusiasts and practitioners, visit and return to, to be legitimated.

5The universality of reggae as a genre is unquestionable, a feature that inevitably contributes to the development of Rastafari as a worldview. Artists such as Alborosie, Hirie, Gentleman and every other non-Jamaican forms of reggae, roots reggae, reggaeton—to name only a few—are obvious testaments to the reach of these Jamaican cultural markers. While there are concerns about who owns the music and where the music may go and what it may evolve into, there is no doubt about its genesis.

6As the book relates to future trends, discussion of a new genre is not mentioned. Chuck Foster writes that Jamaican music had gone beyond reggae, but he’s not quite sure what to name what it is now, while Sly Dunbar considers that as long as the music keeps people dancing, it will have a future. But regarding what is or what will Jamaica’s next genre of popular music be, the verdict is still out. There also is no discussion on the future of rhythm in musical production, while the role of Protools technology and its repercussions on studio work are considered. What is also missing from the discussion is the voice of the performing artists, song writers, production middlemen, etc., as creators.

7Jamaican popular music exists in a global community to which it has to constantly explain itself—it does not feel the need to reinvent itself. It has been discussing the same themes from the time of mento, right up to dancehall. This is what makes the music Jamaican; the experiences, as the island goes through its sociopolitical struggles, natural disasters, civic upheavals etc., which inspire the creators. Asking Jamaican artists to morph to please international audiences is to seemingly make the music untrue, at the least. However, because of Jamaican popular music’s global reach and of the impact of capitalism and ethnocentrism, while Jamaican artists may maintain their polarity within other local cultures, they will face difficulties in leaving the island’s shores, while at the same time foreign reggae and dancehall artists will set the trends in the genres.

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Référence papier

Dennis Howard, « Donna Hope, International Reggae: Current and Future Trends in Jamaican Popular Music », Volume !, 13 : 2 | 2017, 203-205.

Référence électronique

Dennis Howard, « Donna Hope, International Reggae: Current and Future Trends in Jamaican Popular Music », Volume ! [En ligne], 13 : 2 | 2017, mis en ligne le 21 avril 2017, consulté le 17 août 2019. URL :

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Dennis Howard

Dennis Howard a obtenu son doctorat en études culturelles et en ethnomusicologie à l’University of the West Indies. Il travaille depuis plus de trente ans dans le monde des médias et de la musique en tant que producteur, présentateur, journaliste – il est également DJ dans un sound system. Il donne des cours sur l’industrie musicale à l’UWI. Il a notamment publié Ranting from Inside the Dancehall (Jahmento Publishers, 2012) et récemment The Creative Echo Chamber: Contemporary Music Production in Kingston Jamaica (Ian Randle, 2016).

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