Dancehall & Reggae Acts Can Now Capitalize On Their Popularity In African Countries

Stonebwoy, Samini reunite at 2021 Bhim ConcertPopcaan and his Dancehall compatriots’ recent sojourns to sections of the African continent to headline sold-out concerts have resulted in the resurfacing of suggestions that the Motherland is the “new frontier for the Dancehall genre” and this is where Jamaican artists’ should place their focus.

The topic came up for discussion on the Two Live Crew show on Radio Jamaica, as the hosts, who are members of the creative industries, rued the fact that there was a “reluctance of people with money to invest in the” creative sector.

“The new frontier is Africa. I don’t know if you’ve noticed… but it is happening in front of our eyes now like live.  If you follow certain artists on Instagram, you will see that the new green gold for our artists, is the continent of Africa,” co-host Christopher “Johnny” Daley posited.

How Accra's Annual Afrochella Festival Connects Music Lovers With Afrobreat  Culture | Here Magazine @ Away“Over the last three months I have seen Popcaan, Konshens; Beenie Man, Delly Ranks and couple other guys went over there.  Listen I think that our eyes are open up more now to the fact that the music has permeated the African culture in several African countries for years, but we have not been going, not been celebrating that.  Now is the time,” Daley added.

His co-host Dahlia Harris, an acclaimed playwright, artistic director, actress and former Principal Director of Culture in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, agreed wholeheartedly, noting that Jamaican artists have already established a “best practice” for Africa, where capitalizing on the demand for the music was concerned.

Ghana�s IWAN To Storm UK This Month | IWAN Music“Me call it di frontier from long time enuh Johnny… Popcaan jus mek a call seh wi need direct flights from Ghana to Jamaica,” said Harris, a graduate of University of the West Indies’ Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC).

“The artiste dem know long time.  Dem board dem plane and dem do wha dem haffi do, collect dem food an come back home.   Dem naw try convince a soul she dem fi book dem.  Dem naw argue wid a soul fi book me.   Dem naw ask nobaddy fi help dem; dem do dem ting.  Dem pitch it globally and den dem go do wehg dem haffi do and that the way we have to go,” she posited in her response, noting Bob Marley’s role during Zimbabwe’s independence.

The opportunities for touring Africa, particularly countries on the West Coast and in Kenya in the East, was also a hot subject for discussion during an Onstage interview conducted by veteran entertainment journalist Winford Williams with Dancehall producer NotNice in February last year.

Williams had contended that Africa was fertile ground for Jamaican Dancehall artistes, as Dancehall and its parent Reggae were the “soundtrack of that country”.

Date For Konshens Concert In Kenya Confirmed - Viral Tea KeIn Nairobi, Kenya, where Williams said Dancehall and Reggae music reign supreme, Konshens is a huge favourite, likewise Christopher Martin, Etana and Vybz Kartel, who has a massive following, racking up 12 million YouTube views there, his third-highest for 2021. Williams even said that during his trip to Kenya, which took place in June 2019, a Kenyan reporter had declared to him that Kenyan nationals, loved the music of Jamaica even more than Jamaicans do.

“I couldn’t contest the man because if I check Kingston, I don’t know that I will be hearing Reggae everywhere.  The national airline flying from Nairobi to New York – the flight music is Reggae.  So this is the level of embrace that these people have for the music of Jamaica,” he stated.

“We run away from everything African.  We, when we aspire to go somewhere, we are not talking about going to Africa; we talk about going to Europe and North America.  Even South America may even be  more fascinating and alluring than Africa.  Yet it is where your numbers are in this numbers game.  In this numbers game where people are racking up numbers in social media; our numbers I believe are more in Africa, than anywhere else,” he had argued.

When Notnice argued that his streaming, distribution  and sales figures were the largest in the US, based on his BMI and other statements, even though Africa featured on them as well, Williams had pointed out that (at that time) many of the streaming platforms (eg. Spotify) were not available in Africa or even Jamaica.

He had also noted that the North American figures could be attributed to the large Caribbean population which resides in that region.

3 Crazy Concerts That Got Kenyans Talking - only became available in Jamaica in late February 2021, a few weeks after the Onstage interview.  At the same time, it had increased its availability from five African countries (South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia) to 45 after adding 40 other countries including Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, Benin, Zimbabwe and Senegal.

“Because we are focused more on the US and a whole slew of Jamaicans live in North America between Canada and the US, so yes that will happen.   But if you  naw play one place no mind, den di music on its own  went down there and found favour with Africans,” Williams argued.

“What Africa was 20 years ago, is very different from where they are now.  There are economies in Africa that are growing way faster than economies in Europe  and North America and South America.  Africa is on the rise and we need to know that.  That’s where we come from; that’s whose DNA we have – and we are not talking racism here; we are talking about just who the hell  we are and who we cannot run away from.   Ourselves.  We are from that continent,” Williams said.

Williams had said that the people of the African continent naturally gravitate to the music of Jamaica, as the music forms have great African retentions.  He also recommended that Jamaican musicians conduct strategic positioning of their work “to meet particular taste of various demographics”.

“The music of Jamaica – it doesn’t take any rocket scientists to know why Africans naturally consume Reggae music, because it was borrowed from Africa.  Is Africa it come from,” he argued.

International artists that graced Kenyan stages in 2019“We need to know that and we need to target-market.  Some of us need to take time out  – because if they can do critical analysis of demographics and markets and behaviour and so on why people love your music.   A lot of us have music out there and we don’t know why people love the music.

In November 2019, Mojo Morgan of Reggae Grammy Award winning group, Morgan Heritage, had told The Gleaner that Africa was highly lucrative for Jamaican acts.

Recap | 24-Hour Global Event: International Reggae Day – July 1: Big  success – LazeReggae – The Big Deal Podcast“I think if Jamaican artistes would look at Africa like every other touring region around the world like the US, Australia, Europe, Canada … we will be able to tour consistently. But we continue to look at Africa as a remote destination. Africa is a continent. We’re not talking about an island – but a continent that has a population close to or more than 1.5 billion people. America has a third of that,” Morgan, who has toured multiple African countries had said.

“Our whole mentality is, if we can get on a tour bus and a drive across America, or even sometimes fly from city to city touring, why we can’t do that inna Africa? A place that I and I as a people identify as the root of our music?” he had argued.

He added: “If we’re going to do what we have to do to build certain regions in the world as markets where we can go and tour consistently, we have to take that same mindset when we go to Africa. It would be very lucrative for all of those that decide to take up the challenge.”

Source: Africa: A New Frontier For Dancehall Music? – DancehallMag

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