Can reggae artistes who are not from Jamaica be among the greatest?
Jamaica is the home of reggae music. That is fact that cannot be questioned, doubted or argued. However, the music has spread past every boundary and border and reggae is now a worldwide genre and great reggae artistes have sprung up from all four corners of the earth.
Even though there are reggae artistes all over the world, with those outside of Jamaica outselling Jamaican artistes by a landslide, only Jamaican reggae artistes are considered among the greatest. If you ask any reggae fan to list their top 10 artistes, you are sure to hear names like Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown and even the young Chronixx; all from Jamaica. It is almost like there is something that Jamaican reggae artistes have those artistes from other parts of the world does not. Or is it just a bias why we don’t hear non-Jamaican reggae artistes listed among the greatest.
Take the late, great Lucky Dube for example. If reggae fans listen his music without prejudice, they could not deny that the South African is among reggae’s greatest. In fat, the type of crowds that Lucky Dube played in front of, no other reggae artiste, including Bob Marley, has ever played in crowds of that size.
So why isn’t Lucky Dube listed among reggae’s greatest? He surely is one of the greatest reggae artistes ever. Did the fact that he was born on the motherland continent instead of an island in the Caribbean disqualify him from being among reggae’s greats?
Then there are groups like Steel Pulse and Midnite who have given us hits after hits and classic albums after classic album, yet you will never hear names like Vaughn Benjamin and David Hinds when reggae’s greatest are being discussed.
Maybe there is something that babies that are born in Jamaica get at birth that babies elsewhere do not get. Maybe Jamaican babies are born with a disease, a disease that Peter Tosh called reggae mylitis.