June 19, 2012
Controversy surrounds 'Jamaica 50' theme song
Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
With the Jamaica 50 Secretariat launching its campaign song, On A Mission, persons have been reacting to the song, both negatively and positively.
The Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell-produced On A Mission song that is being used by the Jamaica 50 Secretariat as part of their new marketing campaign was launched at Track and Records, St Andrew, on Friday afternoon. While being launched at that venue, it was also being premiered on several radio and television stations islandwide. The song, which has elements of techno, features acts like Chevelle Franklin, Damian Marley, Beres Hammond, Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Wayne Marshall, Tessanne Chin, Assassin, Tifa and Shaggy.
Defending the song, project director for the Jamaica50 Secretariat, Robert Bryan, said the song reflects what it was intended to do.
"The song is great. It reflects what we want in the song, which is to drive the marketing campaign based on the theme, and we believe that as people hear it, it will sit well with them in terms of the message," he said.
"The song was not intended to be a Jamaica 50 song. It is intended to drive the theme of the campaign, which is "Jamaica 50: A Nation On A Mission". We have a lot of songs that people have done that look to celebrate and capture that. The purpose of this song is to drive the marketing campaign," he added.
Also proud to be part of the project, dancehall artiste Tifa said, "I love the song. It stays true to dancehall, as well as it has an international appeal. It is not only for here but for everyone to celebrate Jamaica 50."
However, Dr Leahcim Semaj has voiced a different opinion.
"I think the song missed the beat, no pun intended. It ignored the five beats that Jamaica has given the world. It doesn't sound Jamaican, it doesn't feel Jamaican. My prediction is that no sound system is going to play it and people rail up, but I could be wrong," he told THE STAR.
Since then, the public has been weighing in on the issue. Some persons were pleased while others expressed disappointment.
"Ja 50 song has a vibes still, mi like it, from wha mi hear so far Junior Gong and Tifa tek it still," one person said on social networking website, Twitter.
Meanwhile on an unofficial YouTube video of the song, another person commented, "Is this a joke? This is a wicked prank. It's a scandal!!!! The cultural superstate of the world and this is what we produce? Sly n Robbie, Bobby Digital, Coxsone Dodd, please do something about this. Not even a live reggae rhythm? Shame shame. Me can't believe. Techno mix? Get the hell outa here."
In a release to THE STAR, Vegas stated that he did not believe that the song truly depicted the culture of Jamaica.
Mr Vegas too voiced his opinion of the song in a release to the media.
"No disrespect to the producers or artistes on this 50th anniversary song, but if this is the music that best represents our 50 years of Independence, then I need to fall back to sleep and don't wake up. The bias and favouritism is so ugly in Jamaica and they are not even trying to hide it anymore," the release read.
Vegas went on to say that the official Jamaica 50 song sounded like a dance song.
"It doesn't represent Jamaica 50, it doesn't reflect our culture or where our music is coming from," he said.
fraid to speak out
According to Vegas, "Nuff artistes and people agree with what I am saying, but dem fraid to speak out! Well rebel Vegas nuh fraid fi talk. I am a Jamaican, so I have a voice in this," the release read.
Vegas also said that he had approached the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) with his single Sweet Jamaica, which is a collaboration with Shaggy and Josey Wales. Vegas stated, however, that the JTB informed him that the song was not popular enough.
Another 'Jamaica 50' song, Find A Flag, written by Mikey Bennett, has also been in rotation.
When contacted, however, a member of the JTB, informed THE STAR that a lot of composers had approached them in regards to a Jamaica 50 song.
The representative went on to say that when contacted with these requests, they refer the artistes etc., to the Ministry of Youth and Culture, the organsation in charge of the Jamaica 50 celebrations.