The Caribbean nation of Jamaica is synonymous with the sound of reggae. Now, Jamaica leaders want to certify authentic reggae to bolster indigenous artists on the world scene.
The Associated Press reported on the influential island’s efforts to better protect its cultural heritage. Jamaica hopes to add reggae to the United Nation’s global list of “intangible cultural heritage” sites that includes Argentina’s tango and China’s Peking opera.
An “authentic reggae” certification mark would function as “sort of a ‘Good Housekeeping Seal’” to encourage using Jamaican musicians, producers and merchandise.
Outside of the Bob Marley family, few top-selling reggae albums come from Jamaica anymore. The Jamaica Reggae Industry Association does not discourage outsiders from making reggae, it just wants more credit. Island artists suffer from rampant record piracy on the island and off, and frequently cannot offset those losses with touring, due to issues securing travel visas, among others.
Reggae was born of the confluence of Afro-Caribbean folk and American R&B, and first hit the shores of England in the ‘60s, then exploded in the ‘70s. Modern non-native reggae stars have grafted the genre’s tropes onto their own accents and locales. Jamaica also recently moved to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis as well as medical cannabis