The True Story of Rastafari

January 8th, 2017

For Jamaica’s leaders, Rastafari has been an important aspect of the country’s global brand. Struggling with sky-high unemployment, vast inequality, and extreme poverty (crippling debt burdens from IMF agreements haven’t helped the situation), they have relied on Brand Jamaica—the government’s explicit marketing push, beginning in the 1960s—to attract tourist dollars and foreign investment to the island. The government-backed tourist industry has long encouraged visitors to Come to Jamaica and feel all right; and in 2015, the country decriminalized marijuana—creating a further draw for foreigners seeking an authentic Jamaican experience. The Jamaica Property Office (JIPO), part of the government’s larger Jamaican Promotions Agency (JAMPRO), works to protect the country’s name and trademarks from registration by outside entities with no connection to Jamaican goods and services. Meanwhile, Brand Jamaica is being exploited globally too, with billions of dollars of revenue generated each year from Rasta-themed products—from clothing and headphones to pipes, even energy drinks.

Yet it can be hard to reconcile the image sold to the world with local realities—not to mention the original politics and principles of the Rastafari movement. Rastafari began not simply as a form of countercultural expression or fringe religious belief. It involved a fight for justice by disenfranchised Jamaicans, peasant laborers and the urban underemployed alike, in what was then a British colony. In the 1930s, the Rastafari established a self-sufficient community to put their beliefs into practice. Almost eighty years later, the people Marley’s music spoke to—members of Jamaica’s “sufferah” underclass—continue to live in deep poverty, while the redemptive social organization the movement sought to create has been largely forgotten.

via The True Story of Rastafari.

Bedasse was central to mento era of J’can music

January 8th, 2017

Alerth Rockford Bedasse was central to the mento era of Jamaican music. He was the lead vocalist and chief music arranger for perhaps the most popular mento aggregation: The Chins Calypso Quintet. Along with Count Lasher, Harold Richardson and The Ticklers and Lord Flea and His Calypsonians, they were the essence of the mento upsurge during its heyday of 1950 to 1956. Bedasse’s role was crucial to a movement that not only became the forerunner of ska and rocksteady, but also had an influence on reggae.

Born in a district named May Kraal in north Clarendon, Bedasse grew up in Pennants. He got into music when two cousins, after observing his youthful musical exuberance, coincidentally bought him two guitars as presents from America. It inspired him to begin fooling around with the instruments, and after observing his musician friends operate theirs, the youngster began teaching himself to play the instrument.

via The Music Diaries | Bedasse was central to mento era of J'can music | Entertainment | Jamaica Gleaner.

John Blake’s happy with his One Life

January 2nd, 2017

AMERICAN rapper John Blake is re-establishing his Jamaican roots with his latest single One Life. The track is a collab with reggae singer Ambelique.

“It is a blend of hip hop and reggae music on world issues, self-empowerment, human challenges and faith,” he said. “The single is doing well. We have started to get some airplay on a few local radio stations in Jamaica.”

via John Blake’s happy with his One Life.

To Celebrate Reggae Music, Jamaica’s the Place

January 2nd, 2017

I was in Kingston attending a small conclave of local filmmakers sponsored by the Jamaica Film and Television Association. After viewing five short films, each of the filmmakers got to answer questions from the media.

After listening to all the chatter, I interjected with this simple question, "Does anyone remember ‘The Harder they Come’?" This was probably the most important film to come out of Jamaica as it introduced the world to the sounds of reggae music.An older man who had been introduced as a professor from the University of the West Indies and hadn’t yet said a word, answered: "I was the cinematographer on that movie."

via To Celebrate Reggae Music, Jamaica’s the Place.

A taste of island living with a trip to Jamaica

December 4th, 2016

There aren’t very many tourists on my flight from New York to ­Kingston – it’s mostly ­Jamaicans going home. The tourists usually favour the trip to ­Montego Bay, from where they’re immediately shuttled into carefully cloistered resorts and served a jolly medley of reggae and other clichés of island life along with the necessary TVs, ATMs, fast-food chains, souvenir shops and multiple pools. Many travellers who visit Jamaica attend a “destination” wedding or a retreat; many never venture outside such compounds.

via A taste of island living with a trip to Jamaica | The National.

In Her Own Words: Esther Anderson Artist/Filmmaker/Photographer

December 4th, 2016

During the Sixties and the Seventies, I documented our culture through music, dance and photography, while exploring my own representation as an actress in Hollywood and London with artists like Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando and Sammy Davis Jr. I also placed myself behind the camera as a film-maker, launching my first film at the Edinburgh Film Festival. My collaboration with Bob is the crystallisation of two young rebel souls into one through total art: love, music, photography, cinema, architecture, Ethiopianism and political resistance.

We were both radical and uncompromising. Our best creation was our commitment to helping spread reggae music and the Rastafarian message of peace and love to the world. Marley is to me one of the recipients of Jamaican social history, like Paul Bogle and Marcus Garvey. Bob and the Wailers were able to synthesise the struggle of the sufferers in Jamaica.

via In Her Own Words.

Harambe for Rita

November 23rd, 2016

ZIGGY Marley, eldest son of Bob and Rita Marley, said his mother is recuperating in Florida. He spoke exclusively with the Jamaica Observer last weekend.

“If is one thing I know, my mother is a strong, strong woman. She is doing much, much better and is in Florida with (my sister) Cedella and other family members,” he said.

A former member of the sibling group the Melody Makers, Cedella Marley is CEO of the family-owned Tuff Gong International.

In September, there were reports that the 71-year-old Rita suffered another stroke and was admitted to a Miami hospital.

via Harambe for Rita.

Craigy T and Tarrus do One More Song

November 16th, 2016

The single, One More Song, happened rather serendipitously after Riley overheard the early vocal tracks, which had been laid down by Craigy T, and decided he had to be part of that project. It is produced by Jordan McClure.

“Me, Tarrus, and my artiste Kenny Smith were in the studio one day vibing some of my tracks, and the song just came out of that creative energy. It was completely organic. Then we recorded the song at Chimney Records studios with Jordan. So imagine three musically mad people in one place!” Craigy T told the Jamaica Observer.

A former member of dancehall quartet T.O.K, Craigy T notes the reaction from the public has been nothing short of exciting, and he sees One More Song as that track which will start the ball a rolling for his solo career.

via Craigy T and Tarrus do One More Song .

Forever loving Jamaica: Travel Weekly

November 16th, 2016

Artist, photographer, film director, musician. Lee Jaffe has comfortably inhabited all these roles in many parts of the world, but his attachment to Jamaica, where he was, for a period, a member of Bob Marley’s band, the Wailers, led him back to the island more than 200 times over the past 40 years. His photography of Jamaica and recommendations of what to see and do provide an unusual insider’s guide to the island in the latest installment of Travel Weekly’s Masters Series.

In 1972, before reggae music became the soundtrack for every Caribbean vacation and when few people outside of Jamaica recognized the name Bob Marley, a 22-year-old American multimedia artist, photographer, musician and film director named Lee Jaffe arrived in London, hoping to persuade expatriate Jamaican actress Esther Anderson to be in a film he wanted to make in Chile.

via Forever loving Jamaica: Travel Weekly.

Roots, Reggae, Rebellion review – get up, stand up, for the music that changed the world

November 16th, 2016

As news dawned that the US had installed a white supremacist in the White House, some found consolation in the idea that his presidency might at least make for some excellent music in response. Was this a desperate grasp for a silver lining? Or was it, as some people suggested, a tasteless opinion which trivialised the very real pain and suffering that now seems likely for many? After all, who cares about pop music when minorities are being persecuted and abortion rights rescinded?

via Roots, Reggae, Rebellion review – get up, stand up, for the music that changed the world.