Grammy Award-winning artiste Sean Paul has become the subject of criticism among the reggae and dancehall community since joining Ghanaian Afrobeats star Stonebwoy on Instagram Live to flesh out statements the latter made about reggae’s origin being African.
Stonebwoy is quoted in Nigerian publication The Cable Lifestyle saying that “Reggae is rooted in the heart of Africa … It doesn’t belong to any Caribbean society from its core. It belongs to Africans and we are enjoying it in diverse ways.”
Speaking to THE STAR, the Temperature artiste said that he has been taking the heat for supporting Stonebwoy but wanted to clarify that he never agreed with any claim that reggae was not Jamaican.
“I believe the media took a certain part of what he said and now the same thing is happening to me. I see people commenting and professionals actually calling to cuss me off. I think what Stonebwoy said, if he said it, was probably done in a different manner but that ‘reggae was developed in Africa’. I don’t believe he actually said those words but got caught up in his expression,” Sean Paul said.
“He said he was speaking about the love Africa has for the music, that when the music is listened to, we hear ourselves in it and that it’s a natural connection. I understand that because our musicians here, although influenced by many things, are heavily influenced by Afrocentrism,” he continued.
The two artistes first collaborated on Most Original, a track featured on Stonebwoy’s 2017 album Epistles of Mama, and Sean Paul said they have maintained a good speaking relationship. So having heard of Stonebwoy’s alleged comments decided that “as a true bredrin I would call him”.
“When I got Stonebwoy, he expressed that his statement was misconstrued and that he wanted us to go live and have a discussion. For over one hour, with approximately 2,000 persons on it, I only saw people writing positive messages. Then after the live I realise I see vlogs cussing Stonebwoy and now saying that I supported his argument even though one of the first thing I said was ‘Bro you could never say dancehall and reggae come from Africa’ to which he answered publicly that it was not what he said and that persons had him misconstrued. Now we are being made out to be villains,” he said.
Sean Paul said that he will continue to support Stonebwoy “as a bredrin” and as one of the few artistes who come to Jamaica to produce his reggae-dancehall tracks, and works with local writers, musicians and producers.
“When I see media still carrying the negative argument, it is disheartening [so] I want to big up everybody who understands that a person like me, with over 20 years in the business, would never say reggae and dancehall is not Jamaican,” Sean Paul said.