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Reggae Grammy Continues to Spurn Rising Talent

Sean Paul at the Jamaican launch of Tomahawk Technique

When the Reggae Grammy nominees were announced last December, it underscored that once again the academy had favoured the talent of veterans to the detriment of those currently on the rise. Yet, it seems as though it’s not so much that the young talents are being spurned but rather that Jamaican producers need to more actively become a part of the Academy.

The nominees this year are Jimmy Cliff's Rebirth (Ume/Sunpower Records); The Original Wailers' Miracle (MRG Recordings); Toots and The Maytals' Reggae Got Soul: Unplugged on Strawberry Hill (Metropolis Recordings); Sly and Robbie and the Jam Masters' New Legend Jamaica 50th Edition (Mondo Tunes) and Sean Paul's Tomahawk Technique (VP/Atlantic). Indeed, with the 2013 nod being Sean Paul’s 5h grammy nomination (he won in 2004 for Dutty Rock), it almost seems as though he too could enter the veterans category.

Members of Jamaica’s Reggae fraternity argue that Tomahawk Technique and Rebirth, Cliff’s first album in seven years, are the only ones of relevance to the current reggae industry. Romain Virgo’s The System (VP Records), Busy Signal’s Reggae Music Again (VP Records) and I-Octane’s Crying to the Nation (Sickron/VP). cites Andrea Davis who adequately sums up the need for local industry players to become involved. “Labels usually advertise the artist and the albums strategically targeting the industry within months of the nomination and voting process," Davis explains. "Only Recording Academy members can vote so Jamaican producers and labels need to apply for membership, cast their ballots and nominate their albums!"

While a grammy win is not required for a successful career, it is a great marketing tool. The category also brings greater mainstream attention to music, which is needed as not only are album saies down but Jamaican artistes have been pressed even further into the margins with other artistes outstripping them in sales. As such, the absence of emerging Jamaican talent from the category, which has now become the bastion of Marleys and veterans, gives the impression that Reggae is either dying of suffering from a near fatal wound.