There has been much back and forth concerning who should take the fall for the downward spiral in Jamaica’s musical output. Well-known dancehall selector Foota Hype believes that Jamaica’s government is leading the charge in the demolition of the island’s music by withholding one of the catalysts needed to manufacture a hit, time.
Prime Minister Hon. Andrew Holness recently pledged to take a more hands-on approach in the creative area Jamaica is much revered for, after decades of violent and crude releases. During his address at the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Holness pointed out that singjay Chronixx is one exception to the rule, hinting that the “Warrior” deejay is a great model of someone for others to emulate. Famed dancehall producer Skatta Burrell recently concluded that the artists are not to be criticized and instead cast blame on his fellow producers for not guiding the new school acts in the creation of positive content. The producer also spoke about finding the correct balance, something Foota Hype think went through the door with the passing and subsequent reinforcement of the Noice Abatement Act in 2019.
According to The Ministry of Justice, the act is to control noise caused by amplified sound and other specified equipment. Its implementation led to public events being constricted to midnight on weekdays and 2 AM on weekends. Foota mentioned that this is not enough time to properly incorporate both reggae and dancehall sets at events, and as such, is limiting the growth of the more internationally recognized reggae music.
“If a nuh certain selector like a me or a Matterhorn or a (Fire) Links or some top selector weh wi guh inna dance prime time an drop some bloodc—t Reggae… Si Buju come out deh and dem naw look pon Buju song dem, caw no weh nuh deh fi play dem. Di timing fi play dem nuh deh-deh. When Til Shiloh and dem ting deh bus, nuh dat a run di place, caw yuh know seh when all 2:30 an yuh guh, yuh a hear some blood***t reggae and by 3:30 a Dancehall time,” Foota said while recounting the timeline entertainers adhered to before the act was implemented.
The veteran selector also made it a duty to clap back at the Prime Minister on claims of the music being overly violent. He explained that several artists have been releasing a plethora of albums deeply rooted in spirituality and positivity.
“Andrew is saying there is not enough positive music like weh Chronixx duh and ting. Andrew dat is a lie. Guh look how much album Turbulence have. Turbulence have over 25 album. Guh look how much album Sizzla have; guh look how much album Jah Mason, all a di Rasta dem have. Why are we not hearing these songs? Yuh waan hear why wi naw hear no song like Chronixx an dem stuff deh? When last Luciano get a hit? Yuh know how much song him have? I am going to break it down to you because you are talking to somebody who know di music,” Foota declared.
The former Alliance associate believes that there are still great productions coming from those classified as new school Reggae Revivalists. However, they are being stifled out of what could be hit songs due to time constraints.
“Kabaka Pyramid, di same Jesse Royal, di whole a dem yute yah weh a duh music – dem naw no hit song. Dem get couple song but dem naw nuh hit like weh Chronixx have. Becaw di dance too speedy, becaw a di time… di juggling dem too speedy; yuh caan get a good hit; yuh caan get a Rasta hit yuh caan get a good righteous hit, because di dance time too limited bredrin. A jus di truth. A jus di truth dawg… When last yuh hear one authentic Reggae song?” Foota questioned.
The selector, who also plies his trade in the US, explains that while he tries to ensure Reggae is included in his set, the time is not enough for both Reggae and the more aggressive dancehall music. This, he claims, is where the imbalance lies.
“If oonu a lock di gate pon music how it fi play? When a selecta get half hour fi play dawg, him a guh run guh play Skillibeng Crocodile Teeth…Him a guh play weh hot,” Foota said.
Foota has never been shy about voicing his opinion on matters that concern Reggae and dancehall, even if it means challenging the country’s leader.
“Yuh si because a how dem squingle dung di time, it mash up Reggae ting, mash it up wicked, widcked, wickedwicked. Any selector wi tell yuh some time yuh guh inna one party an yuh waan drop two Reggae, but because di groove is so slow and di groove is not with what is going on it hard bredrin. And di Reggae artist dem a feel it. Di Reggae hard fi bus. Dancehall song easier fi bus dan a Reggae song. And a just di truth bredrin,” Foota mentioned.
“Luciano still can sing. But him caan get no hit becaw dem naw play. Di space nuh deh deh fi play di song dem. Suh di people dem don’t have option. Me know weh mi a talk bout. When dem start enforce di lock-off time, Reggae artiste start suffer. Dem a stifle di culture; dem cripple it,” Foota said.
There are still some that believe the creation of openly violent lyrics rest solely on the artists themselves and not the producer or the government’s implementation of the Noise Abatement Act. What are your thoughts?