JAMAICANS AT THE BET AWARDS & THE TRINI RESPONSE…
HELP BUT NOTICE THE BANDWAGON, FAIR-WEATHER FRIEND TRINI RESPONSE TO THE JAMAICAN’S RAMPAGING PERFORMANCE AT THE BET AWARDS. I HAD TO CRINGE WITH ALL THE HOLLOW SCREAMS OF, “IS WE TRINIS NEXT YEAR!” THIS IS ONCE AGAIN DISHONEST- JAMAICANS DESERVE IT AS A COMMUNITY. WE DO NOT. FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
- Jamaicans have been charting internationally since the 1960s and hardly a year has passed without Jamaican artists charting in the Top 100. They have been consistent performers on the international and Billboard charts and have worked hard at finding the numerous musical routes and industry relationships to get there.
- They have generations of music savvy and industry know-how data available to them. Where is any such comparable info located here?
- Every single song on that stage was a Billboard charting song.
- Every single song on that stage is an anthem on the dance-floors across the world- and instantly recognisable from Japan, to Sweden, to South Africa, to Brazil, to Manhattan
- Also bear in mind that their performance of 6 songs and 4 sets of acts took only 4 minutes- yet had all that impact! This was because each artist, performance, song slice, and shout out was a choreographed bomb.
- It was a showcase of numerous Jamaican brands, and icons: their flag; the ice/green/ and gold rasta colours; the backyard dancehall aesthetic with the speaker-boxes etc; their dances; their fashion; the Jamaican style of mixing/ sound effects, etc; the name Jamaica itself…
- This was part of their 50Th Independence Anniversary plan! Anybody care to revisit and recite our plan?
- This is just the latest manifestation of 50 years of Jamaican cumulative hard work in breaking, building on, and sustaining their brand in the world’s consciousness. Dawn Penn who opened the salvo that night with ‘No No No’ first hit with that song in the 1960s and re-did it again in the 80s keeping it current, and is here again in 2013 planting the flag of that anthem once again!
- Reggae is recognised as a category by Billboard and the Grammys. The reggae shelves in most large metropolitan music stores have been growing over the last 15 years- whilst rock shelves shrunk. T&T music is nowhere to be found…
- Their music sells tens of millions of units annually. Their artists are on stages everywhere on planet earth on everyday of the year- performing to millions. We are not.
- Every single song had an emotional and visceral response to many people in the audience…
- DO WE DESERVE ANYTHING COMPARABLE GIVEN ALL OF THIS? NO WE DO NOT!
- Trinidadians want to reap the reward without the hard work and without learning from their mistakes. If we want the same time in the limelight we must do the following:
- WE MUST FIGHT FOR THE CULTURAL INTERVENTIONS WHICH WE KNOW WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE, INSTEAD OF SITTING ON OUR BUTTS AND COMPLAININg
- We must build systems and stop super-rewarding individuals- let the systems and marketplace select its stars
- We must get artists out to international expos based on merit so that we can start building relationships with industry middle-men: managers; booking agents; tour agents; small and medium sized labels; etc
- We must increase our touring contingent from .05% to 35% and get more artists in the world’s face thus building a buzz around a continuous stream of constantly replenishing T&T product
- We must have 50% local content so that we can start listening to more of our local music and seeing more of our images so that we can start confidently exporting the best of our large gene pool, we cannot select from what we do not know we have, and if we are not listening to ourselves en mass then who else will?
- We must start building an institutional memory for our sector and insist that all young musicians matriculate in it and apprentice to our best Elders and our national Songbook- FOR THIS WE NEED TO CANONISE ELDERS AND ESTABLISH A NATIONAL SONGBOOK!!!
- We must start being honest about quality- what is genius, excellent, what is very good, what is good, what is mediocre, what is good but has flaws, what is crap, and what deserves to be destroyed upon conception… Only by artistic honesty will we advance
- Now the thing is WE CAN ACTUALLY HAVE A T&T SHOWCASE NEXT YEAR ON BET- BUT IT ENT GO LOOK ANYTHING LIKE WHAT WE NAIEVELY THINK IT SHOULD. IT WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS:
- The artist will be: Nicki Minaj; Heather Headley; Trinidad James; Theophilus London; Foxy Brown; Chip Fu of the Fuschnickens; Anslem Douglas; Haddaway; Billy Ocean; and we should leverage for Sparrow to be in there as Calypso King of the World and he should sing an instant folk classic like ‘Lying Excuses’- and feature a dread pan solo by Boogsie or Sean Thomas… Nia Long, Alphosno ‘Carlton’ Rebeiro, and Tatiana Ali could show up and blow kisses
- But that’s what the line-up will look like, our Billboard charters do not have worldwide anthems- KMC, General Grant, Kalayan, etc so it would not make sense showcasing them yet. A Machel one-man show would teach us nothing and may be industrially dishonest because we will feel ‘we in ting’ when we are not… If KMC’s label pushes for his album release close to that time then he may be the dark-horse new release in the mix…
- But- we could use the buzz generated by the fact that nobody in the world had a clue that all those hit-makers came from Trinidad and Tobago to position the next tier of our talent who are ready to take the stage- Machel, joint pop, Ataklan, Kes, John John, A_phake, Irukandji, and a steady stream of the best Groovy Soca singles in more or less mainstream music markets- meanwhile we should be prepping others like David Rudder, Blackmans, the Shadow, Robert Munroe, the top 5 Pan orchestras, etc for the World Beat circuits…
- But this is the truth of what is possible. We need to get very real and stop fooling ourselves… We have work to do. Jamaican success is not by fluke, its not by sudden magical individual skill- it is because of systematic, habitual hard work, following international industrial Best Practice, by apprenticing Elders to young talent throughout the system. The guy who trained Bob Marley and the Wailers to sing is still coaching Jamaican vocalists; the same session musicians are playing on tracks 30 years later… They have never burnt their bridges and have been constantly building on industry contacts and sharing them across their spectrum. They have been constantly attending the expos and maintaining relationships and building new ones. Booking agents have been booking Jamaican acts consistently since the 1960s, When we went on tour in 2003 most agents had not seen Trini acts since Sparrow in the 1960s…
It is not because we lack talent- we lack systems and a clue. If we want BET, and Grammy stages, far less Grammy awards, gold medals, world records etc WE NEED TO GET REAL!!!