Black Culture, White Youth: The Reggae Tradition from JA to UK

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Black culture, white youth: the reggae tradition from JA to UK

Sharma, Sanjay. London, England: Zed Books, , pp. Quinn, Steven. Liner notes. Honest Jon's Records, Kenner, Rob. The Vibe History of Hip Hop.

Marshall, Wayne. Stephens, Michelle A. Koppel, Niko. Faraone, Chris.

It’s Mento…Not Calypso

Twickel, Christoph. Nwankwo, Ifeoma C. Giovannetti, Jorge L.

Reggae, riots and resistance: the sounds of Black Britain in 1981

New York, NY: Palgrave, , pp. Flores, Juan. Hansing, Katrin. Baker, Geoffrey. Fairley, Jan. Brazilian Popular Music and Globalization. New York, NY: Routledge, , pp. Neate, Patrick, and Damian Platt. New York, NY: Penguin, Manuel, K. Largey eds. Caribbean Current, pp. Boniface, P. Heritage and Tourism in the Global Village, pp. London: Routledge. Campbell, H. Trenton, NJ: Africa World. Campbell, S. Tourism and sex trade. Kempadoo Eds.


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Kingston, Jamaica: Kingston Publishing.

Reggae, riots and resistance: the sounds of Black Britain in

Jones, S. Basingstoke, England- Macmillan. King, S. International reggae, democratic socialism, and the secularization of the Rastafarian movement, Popular Music and Society, 22 3 , J Journal of Popular Culture; Bowling Green, 29 3 : Lincoln, C. Yet, regardless of what Russian-speaking musicians consider authentic reggae and the styles they associate with it, the process of selection is always present in their appropriation.

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More importantly, the emphasis placed on the motifs outlined by King et al. Marijuana, dreadlocks, and the colours of the Ethiopian flag immediately come to mind when thinking of reggae. These are the predominant symbols which are associated with both reggae and Rastafari around the world, having been given such symbolic status by production companies marketing reggae to a largely white, middle-class, Western youth. As the musical appropriation spread to countries of the former Eastern European Communist Bloc, these symbols were, in turn, taken up by Russian-speaking musicians interested in this new musical genre.

Cannabis leaves, red, black, gold, green, dreadlocks, Bob Marley, smoking marijuana — it appears as if each symbol was thrown into the video at random, attempting some sort of unity, some sort of authentication, justification, for its chosen musical genre.

Another point of interest in the lyrics is the reference to an imagined Jamaica, a land in which, supposedly, everyone dances, smokes cannabis, is a Rastafarian, and sings reggae — all contrasted against the miserable portrayal of Communist Cuba. Though many divisions and conflicts have formed between Jamaican Rastafari since their emergence on the world arena, the most grounded, religious, and traditional Rastafari have come to view the reggae phenomenon as a distortion of their beliefs and intentions.

As write King et al. Comparative Account. Mainstream and underground reggae, though diverse strands and quite separate from one another, still maintain a relationship based on a mutual regard for reggae — however differing their views may be. After having been introduced to reggae by the mainstream version popularised by widespread radio play, if a listener is sufficiently intrigued, they may continue to discover the genre and subculture through less well-known, more underground musicians.

Yet it is precisely the underground reggae which originally provided a platform for the development of that which would later become mainstream reggae. Both streams likewise have similar goals, arising in environments when an alternative, or at the very least a critique, is demanded by youth dissatisfied with their current way of life and in opposition to the ideologies circulating the political sphere. Joining a subculture became an escape from the mundane and unsatisfactory reality of post-Soviet life for the many young musicians and listeners who subscribed to reggae.

Likewise, mainstream reggae appeared on the music scene at yet another turning point of social circumstances, one in which life was supposedly improving and the former Soviet republics could once again be proud — proud of their individual and combined histories, achievements, and cultures. Critique came in numerous forms: independent newspapers, art, literature, music. Reggae, like blues, must, when appropriated by Russian-language musicians and translated or re-imagined for a Russian-speaking public, go through a process of selection.

This begs the question: what attracts Russian-speaking musicians to reggae in the first place? Some researchers have argued that Jamaican reggae represents the essential human struggle — the expression of opposition — which resonates internationally. However, Russian-language artists cannot take Jamaican reggae and expect it to accurately express the exact same messages they feel are relevant to their protest and to their country of origin, so reggae must undergo a transformation.