Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I will also say that I don't think it's fair to attack brother Habte for his views on what constitutes authentic reggae music. Reggae music can never be separated from the roots. It is the music of the people, and it is not exclusive to any one particular people. But it is inextricably intertwined with Rastafari culture and livity, which is founded upon the Holy Bible. So, regardless of the riddim, if the music is not glorifying JAH and expressing the values and ethos of Rastafari, then it is only an immitation.
I think it's pretty well established that the roots of reggae have nothing to do with Rastafari, but rather with American R&B through ska through rocksteady through reggae.
Rasta didn't factor into it until well into the 1970s, long after Lynn Tait had created the riddim we know as reggae.
That is simply not true. Reggae evolved as a stylee directly from the rockers and rock-steady and ska scene, but the ARTISTS who pioneered this innovative reggae sound were Rastafari brothers and sisters directly from the Trenchtown scene circa 1961-1965
. These foundation artists became all the names we associate with 1970s roots reggae,and what all these artists shared in common from the Trenchtown scene was an affiliation with Rastafari. Either they themselves were practicing Rastafari community, or at least they were affiliated and friends with Rastafari members and Elders. Remember that the ONE DROP drum beat is not from rocksteady, it is the RASTAFARI heartbeat hand drum beat, translated into contemporary music (as Ras Mortimo Plano said about Marley "Him took that heartical Rastafari One Beat and took it across the whole world!")
Further, Rastafari didn't originate in JA and Trinidad in the 1970s, it originated in the 1570s with all those slave rebellions, it was the spirit of the Rastafari folks at an earlier stage, for when those slaves were taken from Africa, the slavers didn't know that the seed of the Rastafari brothers was in the loins of their parents and ancestors, and was carried down in a lineage until Marcus Garvey lit the torch and burst the movement onto the world scene, and took that torch and lit up all of the Caribbean, all of the Americas, all of Africa, and even Europe, with the spirit of Africa for the Africans at home and abroad.
It is therefore disingenuous to claim Rastafari is not part of the foundation of reggae music, only folks who want to ideologically rob reggae of its Rastafari heritage claim such, that is like saying the Delta Blues isn't slave music because some of it incorporates Irish folk music structure, when we all know that the crucible which formulated blues was the remnants of Slavery in the Jim Crow South, and we know that reggae music originates in the crucible of British Colonialism and the Rastafari reaction.
Yes, folks in the Caribbean were listening to soul, R&B, and blues from New Orleans and Florida radio stations, however this could hardly negate the direct, tangible, and even palpable influence that the Elders of Rastafari community had on the burgeoning reggae scene
during the mid to late 1960s. Yes, you are correct to mention the evolution of ska, to rock steady, to rockers, to reggae, however it is blatantly false to say that Rastafari culture, history, and people were not the driving force of this evolution. Further, reggae was a kind of protest music against Colonialism, a movement which Rastafari was central and pivotal in.
Its like Jah B Bunny Wailer sang, "Remember that reggae is the music which sends a message, tells of history, the Truth, and the rights."
No one is suggesting that reggae is exclusively the listening domain o
f Rastafari peoples, however what Gebre Menfes Kidus and I are suggesting is that only Rastafari affiliated musicians are those who can write, play, and perform authentic
sounding and feeling reggae music, the rest simply doesn't cut it. I am a reggae musician, I can say this entirely as a musician
, not just a Rastafari brother, when I hear these imitation contemporary reggae artists my EAR recognizes clearly what IS and IS NOT reggae music. Folks can all surely love and appreciate this music, as Brigadier Jerry sang "Every man him a mi bredren, and every woman a mi sistren" however it is a stretch to say that all folks who attempt to play music are reggae musicians. After all, all folks in the Church may be Christians, but only certified, trained, and properly affiliated folks are the clergy, and there are no self-proclaimed or self-defined priests, neither are the self-proclaimed reggae musicians.
Let me ask a question, why are folks so defensive about reggae being Rastafari music? Are folks here perhaps embarrassed or ashamed to listen to Rastafari music? Would folks prefer to deny the Rastafari aspects and heritage of reggae music simply in order to feel comfortable listening to this music? If so, why? If folks are not comfortable with Rastafari culture, why adopt and enjoy our music? Like Peter Tosh said, "A leopard can't change his spots, and sheep don't grow hair, seen?" No one can take the Rastafari out of reggae, and if folks honestly enjoy reggae music, they should be also be honest with themselves and accept exactly what reggae music is and where it comes from and what its about.