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David Rodigan loses faith in Jamaican music

In recent years, Jamaica has moved from characteristic reggae rhythms and become more influenced by hip-hop, R&B and house. A direction British legendary selector and radio DJ David Rodigan is not fond of.

I meet David Rodigan an early autumn afternoon at a hotel in central Stockholm, just around the corner from the venue where he will be performing at Stockholm Reggaeklubb eight hours later.

He is well spoken, polite and thoughtful. Picture yourself a selector, and probably nothing about it says David Rodigan.

He turns 60 next year. Impeccably dressed in blue jeans, white and blue striped shirt, wind coat and sneakers.

He has a cold, and his doctor has told him to talk as little as possible. But that doesn’t stop him from giving his view on the music coming from Jamaica today, music that’s not what it used to be.

– The development of Jamaican reggae is due to satellite television, says David Rodigan crassly and states:

– Jamaicans has been influenced by American dance videos.

“We’re getting mugged”
It’s clear that he is not fond of current music from Jamaica and describes the hit songs Hold Yuh and Clarks as novelty tunes.

– I can’t see the point of it anymore. This type of music is odd, he says, and continues:

– They’ve forgotten what Jamaica is famous for; the structure and melodic output of reggae.

We get into a discussion about contemporary Jamaican singers and deejays. I mention Mavado and that most of his performance at Uppsala Reggae Festival a month ago was off key.

– We’re getting mugged, David bursts out:

– They can’t sing!

Can’t see the point
He seems to have lost his faith in the Jamaican music industry and says that they have to change their ways.

– The music made is not Jamaican, and it doesn’t export. It’s lacking credibility which is a problem. And we don’t want another version of Real Rock. I mean, I don’t know what we had done without Dean Fraser, Christopher Ellis, Julian Marley or Stephen Marley, he explains, and continues:

– I don’t see the point of what’s being made in Jamaica now.

However, the Jamaican music industry isn’t the only one in trouble, since no one seems to buy music anymore. This is a subject that gets David going as well.

– The music industry has collapsed. No new records are being pressed, Jamaica is all about mp3’s which are lacking information. He continues:

– It’s empty, not mixed properly or mastered. There’s no substance, just a waste of time downloading them. Before there was an end product. Now there’s no vinyl, no CD and no licensing possibilities.

David Rodigan’s favourites
Some might criticize him for living in the past. But despite his harsh words, there are many artists he rates highly these days.

– Konshens, Etana, Tarrus Riley and Romain Virgo, he says and starts humming a Konshens tune but can’t remember the title.

David explains he’s always hunting for new stuff and that you’ve to move forward. He’s a big fan of Busy Signal and gives some examples of what he’s listening to.

– The Big Stage rhythm is nice, especially My Heart Says No by Cameal Davis. I admire Alborosie, he’s immensely talented and has various skills, producer, singer, technician.  Gappy Ranks also has some nice stuff. And the new Gentleman album and the new from Cornadoor. Million Stylez is also talented and has a unique style.

Di Trees from Aidonia and Tarrus Riley on the Go Go Club rhythm. It’s not a reggae rhythm, it’s basically house, but it’s good, it’s interesting.

And that’s what it’s essentially all about. It doesn’t have to be core reggae or dancehall. As long as it’s well crafted, well written and well produced.

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