From Nyabinghi drumming of slavery to '70s reggae and dancehall, Jamaican music gives a voice to resistance against oppression.
Dr Carolyn Cooper from the University of West Indies explores how Jamaican music has given a voice to resistance against oppression. She tells a story starting with the drumming of the years of slavery, through 1970s reggae, the dancehall sound of the ‘80s and ‘90s, right up to a modern day reggae revival. She hears how the sounds of this Caribbean island have shaped its people and politics, providing a rich commentary on the lives of Jamaicans. As ethnomusicologist Dennis Howard says, in Jamaica, “Music is more than for enjoyment. It is as part of our existence.”
Dr Cooper talks to major stars like Beenie Man and King Jammy plus we hear a remarkable recording of the controversial dancehall king Vybz Kartel, who is now in jail. There are contributions from Peter Tosh’s former manager Herbie Miller, reggae writer David Katz, former Miss World Lisa Hanna, now an MP, who reveals how musicians help keep Jamaican politicians accountable. Dr Cooper initiated the Reggae Studies Unit at the University of the West Indies and is the author of two influential books on Jamaican popular culture.
(Photo: Jah T, Rastafari drummer)