Friday, July 24, 2009

Is Reggae Losing It's Roots?

What do you think? Is it a fair question?

In the current world of reggae it is a very pertinent question. After all, anyone who is somewhat computer savvy can create a 'riddim'. Does this show disrespect for the bygone era of session musicians playing live instruments ? Most traditional reggae fans would, no doubt, always prefer live instruments on a track rather than a digitally generated track, myself included.

However, that preference should in no way discount or discredit what is being accomplished by producers creating 'one drop' riddims using Pro-tools or whatever other program or machine they have at there disposal. The fact is, there are some extremely talented musicians producing top notch riddims using digital methods. Stephen 'Di Genius' McGregor, though primarily a dancehall producer, has successfully ventured into the roots world with quality one drop riddims. It takes talent to do what he does! He comes by his nickname honestly. Shane C. Brown of Juke Boxx and Donovan 'Vendetta' Bennett of Don Corleone are two more young producers with loads of musical talent that remain loyal to the traditional reggae sound in the digital era. Reggae Legend Winston 'Burning Spear' Rodney was recently quoted as saying 'The Music needs direction'. I agree with that statement. And reggae absolutely needs to find a balance when it comes to traditional recording methods and digital programmimg. Right now, the latter far outweighs the former. There needs to more Jamaican Musicians following the lead of European Musicians. Labels like'Pow Pow' and 'Irievibrations' do a fabulous job of capturing the traditional reggae sound. Why? Because they use live instruments on the riddims they create!! There is definately something to be said for that.

Is reggae losing it's roots?

Not necessarily. The foundation is still alive and well. The artists and producers simply need to remember to strike a balance. Like Bob Marley said "Please gimme a session, not another version." At least every once and awhile.