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| | |-+  The Influence of “Foreign Music”: How foreign are dancehall and hiphop?
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Author Topic: The Influence of “Foreign Music”: How foreign are dancehall and hiphop?  (Read 7641 times)
Iniko Ujaama
InikoUjaama
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Posts: 535


« on: February 12, 2012, 01:24:46 PM »

I grew up in the 80s. I remember one day coming home and we had Cable TV. I never thought about how common it might have or might not have been on my street at the time. I assumed at the time it was not very common as many households lacked some very basic amenities such as running water. Later I could tell to some extent where many my age developed their taste in music by the music that was most prominent in their taste. Before coming home that day, my taste for music was dancehall, soca and reggae music alongside the love tunes(R & B) etc which dominated the radio. In retrospect, I have always pondered whether those who did not pay as much attention to hiphop as I did and were interested exclusively in soca and dancehall music were depending mainly on radio for the nurturing of their musical tastes.
 
In the early nineties when I entered secondary school, I could also tell those who had Cable Television longer than I and who had the means to nurture that interest more than I could by actually purchasing cds(something I could not do really until I started to work –apart from the rare single and bootleg tape from Mastermix music store). By the nineties the radio stations caught on and were blasting hiphop. It took some time for hiphop to become a big thing in parties. I remember some years ago, noting with disappointment that they played so much Hiphop music since, even as an avid listener of hiphop, it really was not my party music. I liked to wine and grind and wuk up etc and hiphop did not really go well with any of that.
 
The nineties was also the time when hiphop music had begun getting a lot of negative publicity for what was called “gangsta rap”. Dancehall too has lately gotten this rap for its “negative” influence. As a result there have been those who have raised concern over the influence of “foreign music”.  I have been recently wondering about this expression. How foreign is foreign? And if foreign, then to whom? And in what way is it foreign?
 
The history of Africans and their descendants in the West as well as the wider community has never been restricted by the boundaries on identity which nation-statehood has attempted to set between them.  It is not a simple picture and indeed there are commonalities and common issues affecting the various groups which make up the individual nations however this does not negate the commonality of experience which seems to traverse nations among African descendants. As a result it has never posed too much difficulty for one group of Africans to feel the others music, assimilate it and later adapt it to their locality.
 
Let us look at a few. Calypso and Soca developed into a popular music in Trinidad and from there spread throughout the Caribbean. There have since been adaptations in the various islands and even the re-export of ideas and further developments back to Trinidad. Soca by persons such as Bunji Garlin and Maximus Dan is clearly influenced by dancehall.  Between Calypso and the development of Soca we have Ska and Reggae making waves in the Caribbean. Calypso has at some point or other been influenced by rhythms and forms from both the French colonized and Spanish colonies countries. Hiphop, Dancehall and Soca music have continue to share influences. If one wants to go further back Jazz had its sweep through the African Community all over, influencing the development of Afro-beat as well as influencing Calypso and other forms in the Caribbean and entertaining Africans all over. Zouk developed through “folk” music of African descendants in Martinique and this music went on to influence the development of Soukous music on the African continent.  In St. Lucia today one is not disqualified from being called local music if one plays Jazz, Reggae, Calypso or Soca which would have formerly been considered “foreign music” but that guarding of the gates is now attempted with dancehall and hiphop culture, the youngest forms developing in the urban centers of African experience in Jamaica and the United States respectively. In its time Reggae was the one which would have been foreign culture.....

full essay at http://iandiyanola.wordpress.com/
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