Bounty Killer breaks down why artistes who are not Jamaica now winning Grammy in the reggae category.
Bounty Killer is not feeling the sentiments being expressed by some local artistes that reggae being produced in Jamaica is often not up to international standards, hence why a US-based group like SOJA could have won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album. The ‘Poor People Governor’ blasted Jamaican artistes who he felt praised other genres of music over reggae and dancehall and referred to them as “sellouts,” who are disloyal to the very musical platform from which they made their name.
Bounty Killer, whose real name is Rodney Price, has been in the music industry for some thirty-plus years and, as a veteran, has many well-known accomplishments to his credit, including number one hits, crossover collaborations with international stars, and the honor of performing at the Super Bowl’s Half Time show. The 49-year-old entertainer has never been one to mince words. He definitely has a bone to pick with those he styles as “wannabees” who continue to downgrade the indigenous music that comes from this island while foreigners, he said, instantly recognize and accept it as worthwhile.
Recently on his Instagram page, the “My Experience” entertainer shared, “One of the main reasons why non-Jamaicans can be winning Grammy for reggae over Jamaicans is because our younger generation is not embracing it as they should be doing. You hear more rap, trap, afro beats, and drill than reggae in our parties today. Wannabees sell out Jamaicans helping extinct dancehall directly and indirectly. No root without the roots. Learn that lunatics. Our kids aren’t into reggae but kids from over the world are studying and practicing our music and culture while we here forming fools. Still, SOJA album nuh better than Gramps/ Etana/ Jessy, since it was a reggae battle but it tells the plot. Wise up Jamaicans.”
Bounty Killer, in another post, once again gave his opinion on any attempt to dilute or replace authentic dancehall or reggae with trap music. He noted, “Unnu overlook good music that is to inspire and encourage the younger one to stay positive then unnu turn around complaining about the state of the music that’s why the youth them just a gwan chop it and trap it.”
To demonstrate that real reggae is still alive and thriving in Jamaica, Bounty, along with the lengthy captions, also shared a track from artiste Dane Starr titled “Break My Heart,” stating, “Reggae dem up youth wull dem.” He also shared a video of choreographer Orville Hall of Dance Expressionz dancing to a remixed version of Bounty’s hit “Poor People Fed Up,” to which Orville had written, “Many of us are not able to articulate with words what we’re going through but if you listen you’ll hear. There is a message in the music and the movement.”
Bounty’s sentiments were echoed by fellow artiste Khago who also shared on social media after SOJA’s win that what they presented as reggae is a watered-down version of it. The “Nice Again” entertainer went as far as saying that SOJA’s vocals were rather weak, but their win at the Grammys could be because their songs were done on reggae beats. The whole debate about whether reggae songs are authentically Jamaican if they are not done by Jamaican artistes has been an ongoing one.
Dancehall artiste Nymron also commented on Bounty Killer’s post sharing similar sentiments.
“Only money some artist value, and have no respect for who was before them. Dem rich and have no class, don’t even know how to act, egoistic fools, showing off is not inspiring to the yutes….you are teaching them how to diss you in the long run,” he wrote. “All when mi nuh have certain things mi still have my self as one of the best…. car, house, and the money will come…but i have to put in some serious dancehall work. Determination and will power is what i have, no more mind games i am very deadly this time around, get back to the bomboclat roots jamaican dancehall artistes.”
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By and large, Jamaicans and the buying public have embraced non-Jamaican artistes such as Gentleman out of Germany, Alborosie from Italy, Snow from Canada, and Pressure, who hail from the United States Virgin Islands. Additionally, veteran reggae group UB40 is a British brand that has toured worldwide on a reggae platform for decades and has been an incredible commercial success utilizing the genre more than many local artistes as they have been nominated four times for the Grammy award for Best Reggae Album and have sold over 70 million records.
In 2011, the National Public Radio (NPR) did an article, which highlighted the trend of artistes from around the world, including Hawaii, California, and Italy making a mark in the genre and proving that good music can come from outside of Jamaican shores. The article also called into question the issue of cultural appropriation and ownership. It highlighted Alborosie’s journey in music as he is known as the ‘Italian Reggae Ambassador’ as he learned patois, became a Jamaican citizen and was the first white artiste to be distributed on Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Label.
The article went on to quote reggae veteran Freddie McGregor who stated that, in his opinion, it is an honor for others to recognize and embrace your music by wanting to be a part of it.
“NPR. Reggae is ours,” Freddie shared. “They are not denying that they are in love with what we do and want to do it too. There are a lot of bands that work with outside Jamaica who are great musicians. It’s just music and the love of it. So whoever plays it and sings it, it’s a blessing.”