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Traditional roots riddims is, as it seems, not very trendy in JA and it has been another weak year for traditional roots reggae as well as heavier one drops. The few one drops that get attention in JA is of the A1 model, sounds like the stuff the band plays to the tourists in the Mo Bay all inclusives.
Probably the young generation in JA does not have it with them from when they where small as they had 10 years ago or so. Artists like Bounty, Beenie and Buju grew up with recuts of the classic one drops from Studio One and the likes, but today’s artists grew up with Beenie and Bounty and the late 90-ties riddims. For a veteran like me it difficult to imaging someone for whom Bookshelf, Showtime, Baddis, Martial Arts etc are something they liked when going to daycare….
Anyway, with this is mind it’s not strange that JA producers and artists doesn’t build or perform on traditional riddims. And since the local audience and the JA media focus on dancehall riddims it’s not strange so few one drops are built. But as I have said before, outside of JA there is a huge market for traditional riddims and traditional reggae, and – if you want to talk about it in economical terms – this is a market the is left behind by the Jamaican music industry. If you look at Ernie B’s top 50 CD sellers there is only 2 pure dancehall albums there, both from Vybes Kartel. There are only about 5-6 JA produced traditional reggae albums (a couple from Marleys, Anthony B and a Sizzla from John John). There are a few one drops classics such as Nancys Bam Bam and a Gregory, but the waste majority are traditional one drop reggae produced outside of JA.
Just as an example, Apple Gabriel, the old Israel Vibration singer, has already sold amost as much as Vybes Pon Di Gaza 2.0, despite only have been released a few months ago. Eventually it will probably sell a lot more then dancehalls undisputed number one star. The Apple album is produced in the Netherlands. What do you make of that?
Ok, I know you’ll say that Ernie B is not representative, but I do think it is, because CD sales are the only thing that bring in any form of money these days (if just a fraction of what it used to do). What the artists get from streamed media like Spotify and similar is virtually nothing.
However, the were some shiny example of killer one drops. This is one of them, the Captian riddim, produced by Yard Vybz (aka King Jammys son Baby G if I understand it correctly). Roots fans just went nuts over this riddims and its four versions (Sizzla – Murder, Tarrus Riley – Soul Grabba, Jah Cure - Feel It, Wayne Marshall – Captain). Many would have loved a one riddim album, and I’m sure that would have been a seller, but fortunately this was it.