People outside of Jamaica are making reggae music; they have all right to do so and often times the reggae music they make is better than the reggae music being made in Jamaica. Those are the sentiments of dancehall artist, Tanya Stephens.
Tanya has never been one to pull punches or bite her lips, so her repudiation of Jamaicans who are trying to claim ownership of reggae is not surprising. Except in this case the “These Streets” singer is completely wrong.
Tanya posted the following on her Instagram:
Dear Jamaica, other people make Reggae too; often better than you.
We were with Tanya until the “often better than you” part. Exactly where outside of Jamaica is this reggae being made that is better than what is coming out of Jamaica? Who are these foreign artistes and musicians who are making reggae music that is often times better than what is being made by Jamaicans? Is it Fortunate Youth, SOJA, Tropidelic or Rebelution? It is utter nonsense to think any of those overseas entertainers are even worthy to tie the shoes laces of Jamaican entertainers like Tarrus Riley, Chronixx, Jah Cure or Beres Hammond.
It is obvious that Tanya Stephens has not read: Tarrus Riley and the elephant in the reggae room no one wants to talk about
Tanya is mixing up sales, marketing and marketability with talent and quality. Of course the foreign reggae artistes are outselling their Jamaican counterparts by leaps and bounds but it has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the music. It has everything to do with the marketing and who are main consumers of the music in terms of actually purchasing the music.
What Tanya is saying is the equivalent of people saying Bob Marley is the most talented Jamaican musician ever. That is utter rubbish. Bob was and is the most marketable Jamaican based on European standards but only an idiot would say he was more talented than the likes of Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown or Sizzla. The truth is, Bob having a white father made him more appealing to the world, the same way these white foreign artists that Tanya says if often better than Jamaican artistes, are more appealing to the world.
So when one uses sales to decide who is making the highest quality of reggae music they are going down a very slippery slope. If Tanya Stephens herself was about twelve shades lighter and made herself up to look more European, she would be the female version of Sean Paul and Shaggy in terms of earnings.
The truth is color still matters. All you have to do is look at the iTunes or Spotify top ten reggae chart. It is ruled by foreigners and not one of these foreign acts are Black. So using Tanya Stephens’ logic and statement, we could have said: “Dear Jamaica, white people make Reggae too; often better than you.” See how stupid that sounds?
So yes, we agree with Tanya Stephens; Foreigners are making reggae music and they have all rights to make reggae music.
Saying foreigners’ reggae music is often better than Jamaican reggae music is very silly. Foreign acts are often lighter than Jamaican acts.