Erup, of “Click My Finger” fame, is back and showcasing a different side of not only his own talents, but dancehall in general. I posted Perfect’s rock/soul turn a month ago and my sense of the raggapop stylings of Mavado, among others. Now, Erup presents a rock and roll-ified view of things. Accompanied here with a lyrically topical side of Jamaica that the reggae, beaches and sunshine crowd might not know too much about, it’s a refreshing bit of niceness for a spring day.With “How We Ride” coming out at the same time as Deseca’s Genesis riddim, Truckback Records took the same tack and has attempted to build on exclusivity as opposed to the “email blast” that those of us who like this type of stuff are used to. Of course, there are also some who might be disappointed with this new approach, as it places a fair amount of value on intellectual property. Larisa Mann, who studies issues of copyright in Jamaican music, shared Dancehall.mobi’s reporting on the riddim with an attached comment reading: “property right enforcement being made a big deal of. Seems a pity to me, somehow..”
With “Genesis”, it appears that dancehall may be trying to reclaim some of that revenue. Riddims have long been freely passed around by every internet herb with basic file sharing skills (me included), but with a marketing scheme like this one and some additional regulation, artists might actually start earning their keep. Particularly if the promotion goes global, which is what the “Genesis” project was aiming for. Still, can “Genesis” maintain that buzz? After listening to it in full– and most likely supporting it with a purchase– I’m not sure if it’s mind blowing enough to fracture the freeloading pattern. While producing strong drops from Charly Black, Aidonia, and Mavado, it still might not be enough to carry the international platform and facilitate a reclamation of the digital riddim.
For myself, I understand how one might be attracted to a means of promotion that creates a sense excitement around new riddims and tunes. After all, that’s one of the things that soundsystem culture has always been rather good at. It’s obvious that this desire for excitement is part of the reasoning behind the mighty David Rodigan’s take on the situation:
This is David Rodigan and I am delighted to have read your press release regarding a “new beginning.” This is a heartfelt cry from me and thousands of other “reggae” fans in Europe who have become utterly disillusioned by the state of the Jamaican music industry and the lack of thought behind its promotion.
I am delighted that you have seen fit to return to the ethics of traditional music promotion, whereby only certain dee jays and radio stations are able to preview your productions, and in doing so are able to create a demand for a new song. I am happy to know that from now on you will be professionally selective in choosing who has your new productions.
You are a young, imaginative and creative production house in Jamaica and the music desperately needs young people with new ideas. Reggae music must rise up again and that means positivity and a return to melody and harmony. Much of what is now being produced in Jamaica does not export outside Norman Manley Airport.
It would seem that Rodigan’s enthusiasm has more to do with the issue of demand for a tune–the sense of selectivity in promotion. The role of the selector has been and continues to be paramount in Jamaican music. It’s as much a concept as it is a position. The notion of selecting music extends to promotion–who gets to hear the tune, when it’s introduced, and then who gets dubplates. It’s the stock and trade of successful sounds. Maybe instead of the main issue being about property rights and money making (which, of course, is obviously still a part of this strategy), it’s about reinstating the importance of selectivity. Picking and choosing who gets the premiere and letting people know about the importance and excitement of something new. And that, to me, deserves a forward.