The ‘Bad Boys of Reggae’, Inner Circle, are contending that the genre remains powerful globally, but one co-founder of the band feels the genre is at risk of being watered down by some of the imitators from other countries.
“It is still powerful as a product and as a brand. If Reggae foundation was not strong it woulda pop down long time. It is very, very strong and I think it can work to our advantage and it can work against us. It’s how we monitor it internationally. There is the emergence of a thing that they have dubbed ‘Modern Reggae’ by the white Reggae groups,” argued Roger Lewis during an interview on Onstage.
The bass guitarist also contended that many big festivals across the world were not using a lot of Jamaican reggae acts as they used to in the past, as those countries have now created their own version of Reggae artistes.
“The powers that control these festivals; these really big festivals all over the world, just looking for a number to come through the gate to count money, so if you can’t pull dat number and somebody else can pull your genre, can pull dat number, we can become extinct by not being used in these festivals,” he said.
However, his brother Ian has a different perspective, noting that these foreign artistes are only popular in their immediate locales, and outside of their countries, they were not in demand like the Jamaicans who have universal appeal as the originators of the genre.
“A lot of the white kids…first used to back up Reggae artistes and then they go out on their own as bands. Some people seh like di man dem a teck ova and a call it ‘modern reggae’. But the thing about it is that when you talk about Asia, Africa and Europe especially, dem want di authentic thing. Dem want it directly from Jamaica,” Ian said.
“To me it only happen in America… because these so-called white reggae bands are very powerful in America. Jamaicans are relevant everywhere else in the world,” he said.Ian said artistes such as Maxi Priest and Toots, were two of the artistes who, like the white Reggae bands, are able to pull massive crowds across the entire United States.
“Toots can tour the length and breadth of America. Toots is an icon,” he said.
Inner Circle was formed in Kingston in 1968. The five-member group is known for hits such as Sweat and bad Boys which sold seven million copies worldwide. The group has won two Grammy awards for best Reggae Album for the album “bad Boys’ in 1993 and in 1994 for “Reggae Dancer”.
Roger and Ian, were recently presented with Jamaica’s sixth highest honour, the Order of Distinction for their contribution to Jamaican music, on National Heroes Day. Their late band member, Jacob Miller was also bestowed with the honour posthumously.