I HAVE a great fondness for Reggae music, right from secondary school age. My interest in it soared with the coming of age of our own home-grown stars in the 80s and 90s — Terra Kotta, Majek Fashek, Mandators, Ras Kimono, Daniel Wilson, Alex Zitto, and few others.
Don’t even mention the international stars, too many to remember. Our boys were talented, energetic and full of passion. They made great music, and we loved them to bits.
But the masters of our lives, Time and Change soon scattered our joy. One after the other they dropped out of circulation.
Some left our shores to seek better pastures in other lands. The result of that is not my business today.
Some others left the mic completely, so that they can feed their family. Few others were stuck with the music, even when only a sprinkle bothered to listen.
Since life does not like a vacuum, other types of music have taken over the streets. After Reggae music, came Pop music (we like to ‘’follow’’ America in chanting R n B, rhythm and blues)... and on its tail, hip-hop music quietly and stylishly seized the hearts of our kids. Today, as it has been since the turn of the millennium, Hip-Hop is the new spirit ruling almost all across the globe - American wonder!
In spite of all this, I believe Reggae music can make a spirited and successful attempt at taking a slice of the heart of our youth. After all, it is the authentic language of the oppressed and the ordinary folks. Its rhythm and lyrics speak to the inner coils of our rebellious resilience and doggedness to survive against all the odds. All they need to reclaim a chip of their old glory is to be more creative and accommodating.
AT this juncture, a cliché is in order; one tree cannot make a forest. No. The first concern is, where are the performers who can give life to this glorious energetic music? And the worry is correct, because when you look at the field of play what you see is not really encouraging. There is the recent returnee Ras Kimono and his fat belly. The last time I hugged Kimono, I could hardly reach his back to pat him. So, how will he do those his stage ragga jumps and belt out those throaty soulful lyrics. And you need a strong stomach to sing well.
Is it Orits Williki whose big belly is under speedy construction, and is perpetually in struggles with his co-artistes on issues of ‘’who go collect royalties’’...you will think our artistes are more worried about old works than creating new ones. Dan Wilson is busy running between Abuja, PH and Lagos seeing to his father’s business, we can even forgive him if he no longer knows how to switch on microphone any more. And so on and so forth.
But it can still be done, with a little first step that can grow giant ideas. Let the best-known Reggae musicians put their egos under their beds, and come together, to produce one truly outstanding album. Let them all contribute into each song according to their lyrical gifts and creative talents. Let them see this as a “survival” project not because they are hungry, poor, or jobless, but that the glory of Reggae music may return with greater impact.
It is also good that they have a fresh star who is fairly well-known to the kids of today. The chap that sang that award-winning song (‘’You are the champion’’) which became an anthem during the 2010 World Cup coverage on SuperSports cable channel, General Pype, I believe, can be’’torchlight’’ for the revival project.
Remember, for the sake of this project, no one star is greater than the other. Also, the list of names of active and retired musicians is much longer than the limit of my memory displayed here. Everyone should be encouraged to contribute to the best of his or her capacity (intellectually, materially, financially and ‘brandly’). They should also constantly keep their egos in check, so that a crowd of cooks don’t topple the entire pot into the fire.
If you need my help in any reasonable way, I am just a phone call away, feel free to contact me. And don’t be afraid, I will not charge you for this consultation. Have a great time thinking about it.