Stonebwoy says reggae music belongs to Africa.
Reggae and dancehall will forever be associated with Jamaica, where the genre was created, developed, and eventually marketed to the world. However, one Afrobeats star Stonebwoy has raised a hornet’s nest with his comments that reggae actually belongs to Africa.
The Ghanaian artist is quoted as saying in a recent interview in The Cable Lifestyle that: “Reggae is rooted in the heart of Africa… It doesn’t belong to any Caribbean society from its core. It belongs to Africans and we are enjoying it in diverse ways.”
Stonebwoy reasons that Jamaicans are all Africans by virtue of the slave trade, so the genre is really African-produced. He added that it applies to all forms of the genre generated from the island, including dancehall.
At least one music insider Kingsley Goodison who spoke with the Jamaica Observer, totally disagrees with his view.
Stonebwoy offered that reggae was formed in Jamaica in different stages. He explained that at first, it was ska, then rocksteady, then reggae, and that in his opinion Africa has nothing to do with that. For him, reggae is inherently Jamaican.
Goodison also shared that it is not the first he has heard other people making claims about reggae.
Goodison is the man who started the Tribute To The Greats back in 1998 and has so far honored close to 200 individuals, including producer Clement “Coxson” Dodd, former Prime Minister Edward Seaga (a pioneer producer), and Australian sound engineer Graeme Goodall.
According to historical records, Reggae is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals, called “Do the Reggay” was the first popular song to use the word reggae.
This became the adopted name for the genre, and from there, the world began to take an interest. Reggae is a very particular music style that was strongly influenced by traditional mento as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues and evolved out of the earlier genres ska and rocksteady.
It is also deeply linked to the Rastafari religion, which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, aiming to promote pan-Africanism.
Popular Kenyan deejay and reggae publisher Rapcha The Sayantist caught wind of the comments and posted, “Africa owns reggae music, not Caribbean,” to get a conversation started on Twitter. He also made sure that Stonebwoy was credited for the quote. He also made it clear that he believes reggae is indeed Jamaican.
Needless to say, the post drew some fiery comments like, “This narrative is silly and annoying. Erasing our Caribbean identity is erasing centuries of experiences specific to that. It is a Caribbean thing because it was created out of those experiences” and “I am 100% African but i don’t agree with this, Jamaicans are far far way much better in terms of reggae music, the only African i know personally whose music could be compared with Jamaicans was Lucky Dube.”
Some agreed that since Jamaicans are descendants of Africans, then by default, reggae is African.
Stonebwoy, once hailed by Beenie Man as the Prince of Reggae, is known for combining reggae and dancehall with traditional African beats. He has worked in Jamaica as recently as last year and even performed at Reggae Sumfest in 2018.
The African dancehall artist also said that he’s worked with many Jamaican artists, including I-Octane, Kabaka Pyramid, Sean Paul, Agent Sasco, and Sizzla.
We think he got this one wrong, though. What do you guys think? Is reggae Jamaican or African?