Former Jamaica PM: ‘I don’t like dancehall’

By Jamaica Gleaner

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Former Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga

(JAMAICA GLEANER) — Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga has made public his distaste for modern dancehall music, which he describes as lacking in substance.

“We seem to be searching, but fruitlessly. After a run of all the different basic rhythms that we have developed, we have cooled off into dancehall. I am not going to say anything disparaging about that except that I don’t like it.

“I am a man that when I think music, I think melody. I think lyrics. I think rhythm, but I see them all together, packaged in one thing, and my basic concept is that if you can’t whistle it, it is not music,” he declared during the recent official reopening of Things Jamaican at Devon House, St Andrew.

Seaga, who is credited with producing Many, Oh (Higgs and Wilson) in 1960, the first Jamaican hit record pressed on vinyl for commercial production, used the occasion to remind the audience of his formula for success, which has stood the test of time.

“I had to recognise that where you begin is not with the concept, but with the material, and the material in music is the tunes. The material is the folk music – and you heard some of it this evening being revived after such a long time – and a new version of Jamaican folk music, which I endorse.”

He was referring to a splendid rendition of mento classics performed by the Rhumbakah band, compromising young men from the Charlemont High School, St Catherine. Their spot-on rendition of favourites such as Sly Mongoose, complemented by their flawless performance of the accompanying age-old dance moves and mastery of instruments, elicited strong applause.

The elder statesman went on to explain that key to the success of the ska era was the bottom-up approach, which, he believes, is a template for development in other spheres of business.

“Once again, I turned my mind to get that music going at a different level, popular level, (because) not any and every Jamaican would be interested in the mento class of music, which the young men played here tonight. And the brand of Jamaican music that evolved, in which I played a part, has become not a sideline music. Not a marginal music, but a mainstream popular music, and it has become that because it has melody, it has rhythm, it has lyrics, and it had Bob Marley.

“Because in whatever you do, you need some stars, and if you don’t have the stars, you don’t have the attraction … . And I have always asked myself, ‘How come we hit the mainstream in the world without going into the level of the people who went to university and who are at the top of the ladder? How come is at the bottom of the ladder we had to start?’ That’s where the genius was!”

The former prime minister pointed out that Brand Jamaica was built on the creativity and hard work of ordinary Jamaicans through the avenues of culture and sports, with little support from corporate Jamaica.

“They are the ones who have put Jamaica where Jamaica is. We didn’t get there because of some rich merchant somewhere. We didn’t get there because of banks. They didn’t work with banks. They worked with their hands, but we got there because these people at that level had something to say about the environment in which they lived and to say it creatively, and so Jamaica today is well known.”

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11 comments

  1. #QPost. I don't like dance hall either, it is the destruction of the society and part of the reason the Caribbean has been collapsing for many years now.

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  2. Such anger and hatred towards whites around here. So easy to cry racism. i feel sorry for you chimps. time to come down from the trees and walk upright on two legs like the rest of the civilized world.

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  3. Who gives a dancing .. white boy!!? Not me. U can't dance that's why u don't like it!

    (1)(4)
  4. Who gives a ... honky! It ain't for u!!!

    (1)(3)
  5. Anonymous, the artistes you mentioned who you claim "flocked" to Jamaica for their next song or album have produced and still continue to produce crappy music. Don't ask for our local clubs and entertainment, dancehall music only created a series of violence. The former PM (Edward Seaga) may be old but trust me he knows what he's talking about and I'm not in his age range either.

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  6. Stick to rock n roll and pop!!!! Dancehall good without you

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  7. Dancehall don't like you!

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  8. Good for you Eddy you entitle to your likes and dislikes. It's not your era its not your thing. I can't stand country and western but I wont bash it that's just not my thing. However like it or not there is no stopping to it. Many have tried to block dancehall (boy have they) the bastards know themselves but HAVE FAILED. Dancehall rules Gros Islet Friday nights. Heineken Green Synergy foundation is built on dancehall. JZ and Beyoncé, Rhyanna, Snoop Dogg , Brake, Eddie Murphy, countless celebrity flock to Jamaica to find their next hit single from "dancehall". It rules the airways of Japan New York and London oh hell St Lucia is Kartel country. Even New York Fashion week had their own "dancehall theme". With the countless commercials movies and video games that have featured dancehall you may not like it but it's now a cultural phenomenon and ITS HERE TO STAY along with dread locks, reggae music, track and field and jerk has help propel brand Jamaica.

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    • Leave it to a black person to think he knows better than one of the founders of Jamaican independence. This disdain for our history has doomed us to repeat our mistakes throughout history dating back three millennia. The only reason he did not expound on what he said was because he knows how stubborn black people like you are and how we do not like to listen and learn from our mistakes.

      You call that auto-tune crap music? People listening to synthetic music with two lines of lyrics repeated over and over. When was the last time music was sung by a talented vocalist? It's all artificial.

      Have fun, the masses are stupid so they won't be able to tell real music from the shallow kind.

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      • Sad thing has soo right.Its such a good feeling to just randomly take a train from 72st upper Manhattan and see a white couple with guitar in hand playing the great Bob Marley music or to hear your patients on a hospital bed singing or playing Bob Marley music .Its just never dies.dancahall music is a mess dont care whether Beyonce or JZ likes it cause even though they rich there music cant and never can be compared to the good old reggae.

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