Saturday, November 12, 2016

Akala Roots Reggae and Rebellion

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I watched the Akala documentary on BBC4 'Roots Reggae and Rebellion'. A lot of the footage, if you are of a certain age,  would be familiar but, it was good to see a program that showed the struggle the music itself has had to overcome and also the impact it has made worldwide.

There have been a few previous documentaries. every now and then, it seems a production company reels out the same old footage with a few current clips. I may sound a bit cynical, but like I said, even in this documentary many of the clips I had seen before. Even so, when a documentary like this is aired there is still a strong urge to make sure you see it as before social media these documentaries were the only time you may glimpse your reggae heroes on TV.

Now we have YouTube, VEVO etc where there are hundreds of channels where you can see your favorite artists in action, listen to interviews and make your own social comment. But not back in the day solet's return to the documentary.

For the millenniums among you reggae music became popular due to the social comment that it made possible. This was brought to life by the footage of the events that lead to the rise of the music in Jamaica, that is, life in the ghettos.

In the UK, at the time, reggae music was a unifying force and voice to communicate the inequalities felt at that time. It was a time of tension with, among other things the growth of far right groups. Around this was my initial excursion into the music business, starting a band with my brothers and friends. Roots and Culture was the main driving force behind reggae and this message of struggle and inequality in the music gave us somewhere to voice our feelings

Reggae was adopted by the youth from black and white communities where there was a feeling of injustice and the music could be heard at rallies. It was a voice for the people and the Rastafarian ideas and look were adopted by many following reggae. Dreadlocks became the outwardly badge of a reggae fan, this was before dreadlocks became just a another hairstyle. The other reggae statement was wearing the colours of Red, Gold and Green which has become synonymous with reggae and are known as the reggae colours.

roots rock reggae

What the documentary also showed was that reggae spawned many other genres of music that have fared better. There are many genres today that are doing well off the initial creativity of the reggae musicians and mixing engineers of the time. The foundation was drum and bass and from rap, hip-hop to EDM (Electronic Dance Music) they all took ideas from reggae.

Reggae is still regarded as niche but it has many sub-genres like roots and culture, dancehall, lovers rock and dub. This is extending the reach and popularity of reggae and I have no doubt that the fans will drive reggae forward.

One thing is still true, reggae is a genre that allows strong social comment riding on the foundation of a 'riddim' built on drum n bass. That's why I love this music.

Friday, November 11, 2016

#Conscious Music and the Age of Aquarius

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Music has always been a medium to enable topics on social change and worldly events to be heard. 2017 with its natural disasters, 2016 with Brexit, the US election and the conflicts throughout the world sure suggests that #change is coming.

Apparently, we are now in the 'Age of Aquarius'.This is an astrological age that represents rapid change and awakening. There sure has been a lot of change in recent years both socially and technologically. On the internet there are thousands of videos questioning the 'facts' we believed to be true. There is definitely an increase in 'consciousness' and the impact of this will be felt by all of us. The effects will depend on how each of us handles this change.

my quote

However, the Age of Aquarius is also a period of love, brotherhood and unity. So, from a music and songwriting perspective we have the chance to influence change with the messages that our music and lyrics portray. Artists like #Jah9 , #Chronixx have tapped into this greater awareness or awakening and are rapidly gaining an army of fans.

Reggae has sub-genres like, roots an culture, dub, danceheall and lovers rock. Personally, I have felt over the last few years that reggae is being revitalized because of the turmoil that exists in many places. Reggae has always been a music that is never afraid to express difficult topics as from its very beginning it was a vehicle to express inequality and social injustice. Because of this, I feel people are finding a home in reggae where they can express these types of topics. Change is coming and people feel reggae embraces change.

I remember Peter Tosh's great song 'Legalize It' referring to the legalization of marijuana. I have to admit thinking that will never happen. If we can barely get any reggae music played on the radio then nobody is going to pay any mind to what one of the original Wailers is preaching.  But here we are with the USA and Canada proposing the legalization of marijuana and it can even be prescribed on medical grounds. Something is definitely happening.

change is coming to music

Some are pointing to the 'Quickening' the speeding up of time as one of the reasons for this increased consciousness. For example, the effects of the decisions of others e.g. governments and corporations took more time for people to become aware of it say 20 years ago. However, the internet has cut the time between action and awareness, a message sent and the message received. Because of this the power of  'Conscious Music' is even greater.

If you look on social media there are more and more quotes of an enlightening type. Offsetting some of the negative elements of the internet. People are finding their voice, urging people to become aware and be more conscious of things like fake news and what is put in front of them. This awareness is putting pressure on the social media platforms themselves to be more transparent about how they control what we see. Consciousness is definitely rising.

So let's use the power of music to send positive messages and raise awareness and make the most of the Age of Aquarius.

Dingazz Music Website