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Is the Jamaican Culture Being Exploited?

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Cultural appropriation has become a hot button issue globally. That being said, closer attention has to be paid to whether Jamaican “artistes” are authentic or merely imposters. Critics have found that some artistes switch from one genre to another simply for monetary gain. These are some of the people accused of exploiting the Jamaican culture. The other end of the spectrum has genuine lovers of the art. These may be foreigners who take a liking to reggae or dancehall; journeying to Jamaica to learn from true Jamaicans. When they go out and perform, it can be said that there is in fact a level of authenticity to their performance.

Some Successful Groups Worth Being Praised

Big Mountain is a Reggae group promoted by renowned Reggae artiste and producer, Freddie McGregor. Though based in, California, the group has been steadfast in delivering top quality reggae music for years and creating a huge fan following for the Jamaican art. They have grown from very humble beginnings to a fully evolved troupe. The achievements of Big Mountain has possibly been the inspiration for many other groups, some of whom are Rebelution, Passafire, Slightly Stoopid, Clear Conscience, Natural Incense, Pepper, Ballyhoo!, Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Iration, Mystic Roots, and The Expendables. This is just a limited list; there are possibly many more, rendering regular Reggae concerts.

Jamaican Dance Form Equally Popular

The traditional Jamaican dance forms are also extremely popular, particularly with dance lovers from different countries. In terms of groups, ‘Shady Squad’ is one group that is often mentioned as a dedicated dance troupe which has done much to promote Jamaican traditional dance forms. As mentioned, the real lovers and practitioners of the art make it a point to come and stay in Jamaica, learn the art in the right way and from the right teachers and then go on to popularise the dance all over the world. Such contributions may merit appreciation and encouragement. They seem to be in it for the love of the art and if they do end up making money out of their performances, that should not be frowned upon.

Jamaican music and dance will always be greatly revered on the international scene. Weeding out those who have an authentic passion from those trying to be a part of the ‘hype’ may prove difficult.


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