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Thread: Jamaica: The Loudest island on the planet?

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    Not your average thinker Teatre is offline
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    Jamaica: The Loudest island on the planet?

    A interesting article about Jamaican music from BBC News - Jamaica: The loudest island on the planet?


    By Colin Grant
    Everywhere you go in Jamaica, you hear music - loud music. Although authorities recently enforced an island-wide musical curfew, there is a growing campaign to relax the restrictions. Why has the Caribbean nation gained a reputation for being the loudest island on the planet?

    A wide smile breaks out over the hotel porter's face when I say that I'd love to hear him sing. Before my traditional breakfast of ackee and saltfish is served, the waiter joins in, beating out a syncopated rhythm on his chest. They launch into a love song with all the gusto of a duo auditioning for a top record producer - except that I am a tourist.

    Driving around the capital Kingston, the volume dial on the taxi driver's radio appears to be permanently glued to a point beyond 11, as music blasts through speakers worthy of a mobile dancehall. In many of the world's cities, irritated commuters might tut at the tinny leakage from a fellow traveller's earphones but on Jamaica, no-one bothers with earphones.

    Welcome to the loudest island on the planet - up until 02:00 anyway. Recently, after so many sleep-deprived tourists complained about the noise, the government began to enforce legislation which curbs all music publicly aired beyond the early hours of the morning, especially in and around resorts.

    t's not the first time that Jamaica's rulers have tried to control music on the island. For many years colonial authorities banned the drum on plantations, fearing slaves could use it to send coded messages calling for insurrection. But by independence in 1962, Jamaica's most famous drummers, the Count Ossie group, were asked to perform at the official celebrations.

    By then music had already established itself as an integral part of Jamaican culture and society. It has heralded all of the elections since independence, from ska singer Derrick Morgan's optimistic Forward March specially composed for the occasion; through the hopeful Better Must Come in the 1970s, when the country was beset by gang violence and strikes that nearly led to civil war.

    Jamaican musicians haven't just chronicled events - they have also tried to change society. The Wailers' 1963 hit Simmer Down was a call for rude boys - violent petty criminals who terrorised their communities in the 1960s - to lay down their arms. It's much the same advice offered by the DJ Beenie Man more recently, who warned in the song If You Live by the Gun, you will also die that way.

    Fifty years after independence, music is still the form of cultural expression along which the nation coalesces. Music is heard everywhere on the island, but especially in ghettos such as Trenchtown, where Bunny Livingston formed The Wailers with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

    In the 1960s, says Livingston, "Trenchtown was like Hollywood because there were so many stars", drawn to the capital by the hope of fame, but inevitably exploited by cynical producers.

    For Jamaica's poor population, music was a way out of poverty and the ghetto - if not actual then spiritual. As Bob Marley sang in his 1973 hit Trenchtown Rock: "One good thing about music/ When it hits you feel no pain." Did Dead Prez take this line from Marley in his song "hip hop"?

    The death of Marley in 1981 left a political and musical vacuum. The truce established between the gunmen of the warring political parties in the aftermath of the 1978 One Love Peace concert, headlined by Marley, had all but broken down three years later. And no singer was quite able to capture hearts and minds as Marley had.

    The musical vacuum was filled by dancehall DJs who spurned "One Love" consciousness in favour of "slackness" - lyrics with an emphasis on sex and violence. Although there have been singers such as Sizzla, steeped in the tradition of old-school roots reggae, most of the attention has been focused on controversial dancehall DJs, some with a defiant accent on homophobic lyrics.

    Notwithstanding the uglier side to some Jamaican music, you'd be hard pushed to find a Jamaican who is not proud of the way that music raised the country's profile. "Music put the island on a world stage," says cultural historian Viv Adams. "It gave Jamaica the appearance of being a giant when it was destined to be a minnow."

    And the hotel porter improvising a song at breakfast is part of that.

    "Me can sing, you know," says the porter in local patois, and he's right. His voice is tinged with ethereal beauty. LOL It's no great surprise though, as everyone you meet in Jamaica seems capable of carrying a tune and is ready to demonstrate, just in case you know someone who knows someone who may be able to help a fledgling reggae star. The porter whispers as he hands me a business-card on my way out, "Take it. You never can tell!"

  2. #2
    Not your average thinker Teatre is offline
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    More information from the same article:

    Jamaica's musical genres

    Mento: Jamaican folk music that emerged in the 1920s and drew on acoustic instruments - banjos, rumba boxes and home-made flutes carved out of bamboo

    Calypso: A local version of Trinidadian Calypso, as personified by the light-hearted banter of Lord Kitchener and later Harry Belafonte

    Percussion playing: Drumming music heavily influenced by the African past of the island's formerly enslaved population
    Ska: A kind of Jamaican rhythm and blues, which also drew on the big band swing music of the USA from the 1940s and 50s
    Reggae: Followed on from ska, with a strong bass line and an emphasis on the back or off beat. Reggae became the most dominant form of Jamaican music in the 1960s and 70s

    Dancehall: The 1980s saw the rise of DJ stars who talked over the music ("toasted") in ways that were often witty and provocative

    To be honest, I don't think anyone really knows when Mento started so I was surprised to see the 1920s. The word "Mento" is older than the music genre it is related to.
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    Imix Bad Man Mayak is offline
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    lol

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    Registered User Namey Namey is offline
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    Really now

    The writer's name is Colin grant, obviously a another insignificant smallie.
    Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

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    Repect Our Soca Pioneers Socapro's Avatar Socapro is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Namey Namey View Post
    Really now

    The writer's name is Colin grant, obviously a another insignificant smallie.


    Colin Grant

    Author: Colin Grant

    Colin Grant is a historian, Associate Fellow in the Centre for Caribbean Studies and producer for BBC radio. The son of Jamaican emigrants he lives in Brighton.
    Catch me as Soca PhD Every Saturday 2-4pm GMT
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    email: projampro@yahoo.co.uk

    Hailing from Trinidad & Tobago and very proud of it!!
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    Registered User Namey Namey is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Socapro View Post


    Colin Grant

    Author: Colin Grant

    Colin Grant is a historian, Associate Fellow in the Centre for Caribbean Studies and producer for BBC radio. The son of Jamaican emigrants he lives in Brighton.
    Same thing they tend to be smallie lovers.
    Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

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    Sagattarius notorious saga's Avatar notorious saga is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Socapro View Post


    Colin Grant

    Author: Colin Grant

    Colin Grant is a historian, Associate Fellow in the Centre for Caribbean Studies and producer for BBC radio. The son of Jamaican emigrants he lives in Brighton.
    LOL
    Man ah Barbeerian bound tuh be by de bar beer in meh hand beastly cold.

  8. #8
    Not your average thinker Teatre is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Socapro View Post


    Colin Grant

    Author: Colin Grant

    Colin Grant is a historian, Associate Fellow in the Centre for Caribbean Studies and producer for BBC radio. The son of Jamaican emigrants he lives in Brighton.
    Lol. I'm slightly disappointed by this. I wanted him to be a white British man who is "cultured" because that would limit the bias in the article and resurrect the dwindling importance of Jamaican music in the UK.

  9. #9
    Juan Dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Namey Namey View Post
    Same thing they tend to be smallie lovers.
    do jahmaycans really talk like that "small islanders"?
    lol
    that sounds so...farrinish....you know like the ################as who say addies is the best sound on the planet and better than all jahmaycan sounds and how wearing timberlands and big clothes is real gangsta shit blah blah blah?...yeah dem kind of people speak like that

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    Registered User SKBai1991's Avatar SKBai1991 is offline
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    anyone else find it ironic that the second smallest island and the smallest population in the greater antilles has the nerve to call other people "smallie"?
    "sa ki ta'w sé ta'w, la rivié pé pa chayé'l "


    Father, before mi mind get bad
    Betta yuh flip it round and mek mi mind get mad
    Mi prefer fi work hard everyday fi achieve mi goals
    Nah grudge nobody fi dem own

  11. #11
    Not your average thinker Teatre is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by SKBai1991 View Post
    anyone else find it ironic that the second smallest island and the smallest population in the greater antilles has the nerve to call other people "smallie"?
    Yes I do find it ironic at times, but then most times I learn to accept that Jamaicans are just loud and proud.

    In hindsight, they usually refer to the anglophone West Indies as small island (yes, sometimes including Guyana lol). I doubt a Jamaican would call a Cuban or a Haitian smallie, but like I said in another post they are referring to how the world sees them. (The biggest english speaking island in the Caribbean)

    As a woman of Jamaica parentage, I refrain from using the word "smallie". It undermines the achievements of all the other islands and is an unfair judgement. Perhaps, if used in an economic context, Jamaica is actually one of the smallest.

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    Get your passport & come ! EloquenceInc is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teatre View Post
    Yes I do find it ironic at times, but then most times I learn to accept that Jamaicans are just loud and proud.

    In hindsight, they usually refer to the anglophone West Indies as small island (yes, sometimes including Guyana lol). I doubt a Jamaican would call a Cuban or a Haitian smallie, but like I said in another post they are referring to how the world sees them. (The biggest english speaking island in the Caribbean)

    As a woman of Jamaica parentage, I refrain from using the word "smallie". It undermines the achievements of all the other islands and is an unfair judgement. Perhaps, if used in an economic context, Jamaica is actually one of the smallest.
    I have to wonder why an article about how Jamaicans play music in Jamaica is so important on even the smallest level that it was brought to the site to discuss? Shouldn't you be more informing us of Jamaicans and Jamaican heritage folks' issues in Britain, where you're from?

    I just don't get why people who not even in Jamaica and 9.5 times out of 10 never lived there always bringing the most irrelevant or negative of news about Jamaica to discuss like is BIG NEWS...like every breath we take matters as to how it was done, when, and why...I mean if we so don't matter why you all keep making sure we do?

    lol at the people in the article who go to a country and want the country to be more like...theirs...

    If there was no signs of LIFE all over there would be no attraction. It's not a country of strangers to each other as the US and Britain etc. are so there is no big need for everybody to keep their form of music to themselves... And there are PLENTY of areas in Jamaica that are quiet and peaceful. However taxi drivers etc working hard all day why can't they keep themselves happy if they want without all this criticism?

    cho. They can get out of the resort AREAS (cause I'm sure no resort would last if it was a constant dancehall 24/7) and go stay in a guesthouse away from the excitement if that's what they want. I was in Mobay just a while ago and there was no overload of music. Even by the beach someone always pulls up and turn up the music if none is playing but that makes the place nice, and it's not like you can't hear yourself think it's so loud. And where I was staying by the way was SILENT. smh.
    Who has eyes to see, let them see...

  13. #13
    Not your average thinker Teatre is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brownilus View Post
    I have to wonder why an article about how Jamaicans play music in Jamaica is so important on even the smallest level that it was brought to the site to discuss? Shouldn't you be more informing us of Jamaicans and Jamaican heritage folks' issues in Britain, where you're from?

    I just don't get why people who not even in Jamaica and 9.5 times out of 10 never lived there always bringing the most irrelevant or negative of news about Jamaica to discuss like is BIG NEWS...like every breath we take matters as to how it was done, when, and why...I mean if we so don't matter why you all keep making sure we do?

    lol at the people in the article who go to a country and want the country to be more like...theirs...

    If there was no signs of LIFE all over there would be no attraction. It's not a country of strangers to each other as the US and Britain etc. are so there is no big need for everybody to keep their form of music to themselves... And there are PLENTY of areas in Jamaica that are quiet and peaceful. However taxi drivers etc working hard all day why can't they keep themselves happy if they want without all this criticism?

    cho. They can get out of the resort AREAS (cause I'm sure no resort would last if it was a constant dancehall 24/7) and go stay in a guesthouse away from the excitement if that's what they want. I was in Mobay just a while ago and there was no overload of music. Even by the beach someone always pulls up and turn up the music if none is playing but that makes the place nice, and it's not like you can't hear yourself think it's so loud. And where I was staying by the way was SILENT. smh.
    Okay, please pay attention to the following in no particular order:

    1) A variety of topics are posted and discussed on Imix, whether trivial or important. The degree of importance is arbitrary.

    2) I am not obliged to inform you about Jamaica or those of Jamaican heritage in the UK just because I am from the UK. Sorry, my broad knowledge does not permit me to live within the confines of your statement. Check my other posts if you are in disbelief.

    3) In the context of "irrelevant" and or "negative", are you alluding to your own position on Island Mix?

    4) No one is implying that this is BIG NEWS. It is merely an article that I decided to share with the beloved IMIX folk for discussion. Last time I checked, Imix did not have a BIG NEWS category but feel free to show me if there is.

    5) I don't see what you are going to achieve by being defensive about this article.

    6) Since Jamaica is heavily reliant on tourism, upsetting tourists with loud music could be detrimental to their GDP. Common sense tells me that the Jamaican government do not want to upset the tourists, especially when there are many substitute Caribbean islands available (Barbados, Bahamas, Tobago etc). So yes, this article could be important for some.
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