Sean Paul has defended Ghanaian artist Stonebwoy’s recent statements that Reggae doesn’t belong to “any Caribbean society from its core” and that it “belongs to Africans.”

Paul, in an Instagram Live session on Sunday with Stonebwoy, cast blame on “the media” which he accused of misrepresenting the Ghanaian, whom he said, unlike some other foreign artists, always pays homage to Jamaica.

“When you say dat; I don’t think you are wrong. I think people take it out of context. We as Jamaican are trying to connect back to our roots when we make this music, so I am not gonna let the media cut that root bro. I am not going to let the media use a sound bite from one thing that you said in the whole conversation to make anybody feel that you are trying to not say that it was birth in Jamaica,” Sean Paul said.

He added: “Rememba dat wi caan mek media do dat. Media is for us to use, not to use us; yuh hear dat?  When you hear something about your bredda weh yuh nuh like, double-check dat; triple-check dat.”

In an interview with the Nigerian publication TheCable Lifestyle, Stonebwoy was asked whether he had a viewpoint on the argument posited by “many people” that Reggae is not an African thing.

“Reggae is rooted in the heart of Africa. It’s not a foreign style or movement… Even our Afrobeats of today also stem out from the highlife core, where the highlife core tells stories and brings people to consciousness. Whether Reggae, Dancehall, Highlife, or Afrobeats, they all come from the same source,” Stonebwoy had responded.

The Ghananian also went on to state, erroneously, that all Jamaicans are of African descent.  “To me, it’s not that it’s very difficult to actually express oneself with those styles, all those names in Jamaican.  Remember that Jamaicans are all Africans by virtue of the slave trade. So, it’s just the music that we’re doing back again,” he stated. 

“I’m not the only one doing it, there are tons and tons of people, who are inspired by that genre of music. It doesn’t belong to any Caribbean society from its core. It belongs to Africans and we are enjoying it in diverse ways,” Stonebwoy continued.

Sean Paul: “Reggae uses African drums”

During their Instagram Live, Sean Paul went on to tell Stonebwoy that he was not wrong in making the comments, because Reggae uses African drums in its beats, and “African sounds is what we use to build our music.”

“When we do music in Jamaica, it was that we took out different African drums and sounds and played it in our own way as Reggae music and it developed into Dancehall music which a lot of us in my generation we take the both of those Reggae and Dancehall and make something – we do the music through dat,” he said.

“So we made this music and when it become popular a lot of us would say yow it is definitely us that developed this and I understand that some people might find it offensive if anyone says other than that,” he added.  

According to Sean Paul, in affirming that Reggae is African, he was also setting the record straight on behalf of Stonebwoy.

“Now what you said the other day is that Reggae music is African and honestly, they take the sound bite and say that you say ‘ray’ without people reading the rest of the comments or the rest of the ting, it make di people feel a likkle way. But I am here to just set the record straight: what you said is nothing wrong to me in terms of it is African,” he said.

“Because we use listen to Sly Dunbar who is someone who develop Reggae and Dancehall to the point where it is at this point and Steely and Clevie and if you listen to those producers, that definitely use African sounds and drums,” he said.

“For me when Jamaicans first start to make dis type a music, especially Dancehall was a generational music that spoke to my generation a lot. I felt it was the most Afrocentric-sounding think in di western hemisphere. And I felt proud of dat… Our music – Reggae and Dancehall has grown but me is a man who mus big up di root and di root is straight from Africa,” he said.

It was at the end of the conversation that Stonebwoy sought to make a statement to Jamaicans, in his own defense. “Basically, I didn’t say what you guys tink I say. Wi just making di link stronger and representing,” he said.

Paul and Stonebwoy collaborated in 2018 on the track Most Original, and again in 2021, on the Guns Of Navarone (Remix) with Jesse Royal.

‘Schooling Stonebwoy and Jamaicans’

A day after the Sean Paul-Stonebwoy conversation, Jamaican music and cultural researcher and radio host, Richard Hugh Blackford, noted that Jamaican music could not be claimed as African, as the sounds were a melting pot of cultures, influenced by the Tainos, Portuguese, Spanish, Africans and even the British who conquered the island in 1655.

“It would suit not only the Ghanaian Stonebwoy, but also the legions of uninformed Jamaicans to learn this history before they buy into this uneducated talk of Reggae and African roots. It should not be so easy for a people to disown such an important element of their culture and in effect pander to views expressed by people who are similarly uninformed,” he noted in the article titled Reggae 101 – Schooling Stoneboy and Jamaicans.

The people who lived in Jamaica up to 1655 and the British, he explained brought elements of their own cultures with them which survived into the post-slavery period, “that by the time recorded music came into existence around 1888, the seeds of Jamaica’s own music would have been germinating”.

Blackford also noted that the earliest recording of Jamaican music was in 1951 and was a “French/Spanish influenced Mento drawn from the Spanish occupation and tinged with Haitian Creole stylings.”

Contending that Stonebwoy was not the first “big-name” African artist to claim Reggae, he noted that back in 1992, the late South African Reggae artist, Lucky Dube, had done the same thing.

“It is one thing that these privileged individuals would make such a claim, after all, it is their opinion. It is quite another matter when others, especially Jamaicans are prepared to give credence to such rubbish,” he said.


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