Justin Bieber Miss An Opportunity To Credit Dancehall Music As The Cornerstone Of The Sound Of His Music

JUSTIN BIEBER 'BREAKS THE INTERNET' WITH MASSIVE GLOBAL LIVESTREAM CONCERT | UmusicCanadian pop star Justin Bieber was given an opportunity to finally give due credit to Jamaica and Dancehall culture for his mega-successful hit Sorry, but the singer all but glossed over the genre’s influence.  He half-heartedly referred to the beat on which the 2015 track was laid as ‘Island Music’.

In the latest episode of DJ Khaled’s First One Podcast on Amazon Music, Bieber was asked whether he was directly inspired by Dancehall and Reggae in the making of Sorry, which has distinct Dancehall drum patterns and an accompanying music video that drew heavily on Dancehall fashion and dance moves dating back to the 1990s. When the song was released off Bieber’s fourth studio album, Purpose, it sparked much controversy among Dancehall artists and fans, who viewed it as cultural appropriation.

DJ Khaled, in the interview, said that “the record ‘Sorry’ has that Dancehall feel, I love Jamaica, I love Reggae, I love Dancehall music, there wouldn’t be no DJ Khaled if Khaled didn’t break out of Dancehall, it’s part of my story and who I am.”

The 'Biebs' goes dancehallAfter which, he asked Justin, “what inspired you to make that record, are you inspired by Reggae music, Dancehall music?”

Justin responded, “so the answer is yes, I am inspired by really all music but in particular I love Island music, I love the feel of just the percussion. I am a drummer, and that percussion it moves me and it makes me want to dance. I want to make music for the world. I don’t want to get caught up being too isolated, I want to make music that impacts all cultures and all ethnicities.”

In 2016, Grammy Award-winner Sean Paul grabbed headlines when he called out Drake and Bieber for cultural appropriation of Dancehall sounds without acknowledging their roots.  “It is a sore point when people like Drake or Bieber or other artists come and do Dancehall-orientated music but don’t credit where dancehall came from and they don’t necessarily understand it,” Paul told The Guardian.  “A lot of people get upset and sour. I know artists back in Jamaica who don’t like Major Lazer, as they think they do the same thing Drake and Kanye did – they take and take and don’t credit.” In contrast, he told Power 106 that Rihanna was one of the only international artists who has given Dancehall music the treatment that it deserves.

Over the years, mainstream music media has also blatantly whitewashed Jamaican Dancehall and Reggae’s influence on popular music. Rolling Stone Magazine’s since-edited review of Rihanna’s Work defined it as “a tropical house-flavored track featuring Drake,” while a Wall Street Journal article positioned Bieber’s What Do You Mean? as “pioneering the ‘Caribbean, beach-party vibe’ of tropical house in the mainstream”.

Justin Bieber Dodges Opportunity To Finally Give Credit To Jamaican Dancehall – DancehallMagVulture called Sorry, “a Caribbean-flavored house beat over which Bieber flexes his best falsetto,” while the LA Times called it an “airy tropical-house banger.”

Bieber did not appear in the Sorry video, which is currently the 13th most viewed video on YouTube at 3.5 billion views.  Instead, Parris Goebel and her dance crew, ReQuest took his place, and when asked by Rolling Stone about the origin of her dance movements, Goebel completely failed to acknowledge that she had used well-established Dancehall moves like Gully Creepa, Muscle Wine, and Cow Foot throughout the video’s routine.   Goebel also told Cosmopolitan that as far as the moves, she didn’t overthink it. “The word that comes to mind is ‘spontaneous.’ Nothing was planned too much, not even the dancing. It was more like, ‘How do we feel on the spot?’” she said.

After she came under fire from Jamaicans for failing to credit the culture, the New Zealander defended herself on a Facebook post, saying that she had “huge respect and passion for [dancehall]”, according to Stuff.  “I also didn’t expect us to also be judged of the colour of our skin, because to my understanding, dance is one love and I believe it is what brings us together,” she added.

In the HuffPost article “Enjoy Dancehall Sounds, But Don’t Let Enjoyment Be Erasure”, Rasheena Fountain warns that Dancehall’s broad influence on popular music may result in a repeat of the “whitewashing” that happened to other black music genres. “While musical genres should be inclusive, the problem comes when progression and mainstream acceptance comes with erasure of the culture that created the music, lessening the authenticity.”

Bieber has never addressed the allegations of cultural appropriation or given a salute to Jamaica and Dancehall culture for its influence on his music.

Sorry, first released by Def Jam records and produced by Skrillex and Bloodpop, became one of the biggest singles of 2015, spending three weeks at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100.  It made Forbes Magazine’s headlines after it broke sales records in 2016 and also became the most-streamed song in the U.K. since records began.  It was also the first song to hit 100 million streams in Britain at the time and according to the esteemed magazine, “helped the Canadian star become the first artist to hold positions Number 1, 2, and 3 simultaneously on the Official Singles Chart”.

The success of Sorry helped to reignite popular music’s interest in Dancehall and several Dancehall-influenced hits followed, including Drake’s Controlla, Rihanna’s Work, Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You, and Tory Lanez’s LUV.

Justin, who has the most viewed YouTube channel, further explained why he dabbled in other cultures, “When you put on that type of music if you are sad it uplifts your spirit and makes you feel good…I want to make music for the world, and for all ethnicities…(I want to make) music that uplifts your spirit and makes you feel good.”

His latest album is Justice, which he explains is the Latin or Greek meaning of his name. Bieber explained that “since the beginning of time there has been so much injustice and I continue to educate myself on how important it is to shed light on that (justice)”.

Source: Justin Bieber Dodges Opportunity To Finally Give Credit To Jamaican Dancehall – DancehallMag

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