In everyday life one experiences good times and bad times too. The same goes for music business, and in this case for reggae music in particular, as the year 2000 wasn't exactly a successful year. According to some well known producers and leading distributors record sales have been flat, some even spoke of all-time low, and producer Donovan Germain of 'Penthouse' fame stated that "2000 has been a 'dead' year for reggae internationally". Statements for these dramatic tidings mainly mention the following causes: "piracy is one of the main factors", "lack of creativity as producers and artists are creating the same thing over and over again", "there's no unity in the business", "lackluster marketing", and "the people are not really getting the kind of music they expect." However, let's not forget that there have been artistic and economical heights and depths throughout the history of reggae music. So, no need to despair as music always goes in cycles and there are indications that some good will come in the near future. Let's focus on France, which is probably one of the few areas in the world which presently has a flourishing (roots) reggae market, thus surprisingly exceeding England as the leading market in Europe. The most striking part of the French success story is the fact that not only Jamaican artists achieve notable record sales like for example deejay veteran U Roy with his latest album entitled "Serious Matter", but also those of such local artists as newcomer Tairo and Pierpoljak are selling extremely well. Although ragga/dancehall hasn't reached the popularity of roots reggae yet, it is definitely gaining pace. Lord Kossity is the one who is going to break big when it comes to French dancehall, with the duo Boom Sound, Reel Killa and Baby G being the up-and-coming stars. Reggae artists like Buju Banton, Anthony B, Israel Vibration, Morgan Heritage and Macka B have been on tour in France and they truly can report they have gotten all the better for it. The growing interest in reggae music has made that many albums of Jamaican artists are now pressed in France and, on the other hand, it has become much easier for the French fans to obtain import albums. Also the promotion and support from the media is a strong force. Magazines like 'Reggae Massive' and the bi-monthly glossy 'Ragga Ragga Ragga' (which always incorporates a free compilation CD) are bringing the latest news and excellent articles/interviews to the fans. Reggae and dancehall music can be heard on local, national and satellite radio and also the growing number of French reggae/dancehall related sites on the internet underline the huge popularity of reggae music in this part of Europe.

Pierpoljak




Junior Kelly




Elephant Man
From a musical point of view the year 2000 wasn't a big year either. No real new blends, few reggae acts really coming through, and also very few exciting brand new work from the established names. On the roots side of reggae music Junior Kelly was probably the most anticipated new Jamaican artist a yard and internationally, while up-and-coming dancehall stars Elephant Man, Mr. Lex aka Lexxus, Sean Paul and Baby Cham - the latter under the guidance of producer Dave Kelly largely combining dancehall with hiphop, soul and R&B flavors - delivered their first full length albums. Other talented Jamaican artists who still have to prove that they are able to become a mainstay include dancehall newcomers Danny English, Kiprich, Wayne Marshall, Sugar Slick, Ce'cile and Zumjay as well as young roots lions Spectacular and Turbulence. Sorrow and misery within UK's reggae scene was probably best expressed through Sylvia Tella's deal with US based Living Room Records in order to get her album released, and also the Ruff Cutt production crew had to try their luck outside the UK. However, the UK reggae industry may count its blessings with such exciting newcomers like Skibu, Don Ricardo, Antonio and The Rasites, the latter being a London-based Rasta band already compared with Morgan Heritage. Furthermore the reggae world was confronted with the lost of such well respected artists and musicians like Victor Cross, Bim Sherman, Blacka Morwell, Hortense Ellis, Winston Grennan and Tyrone Evans. As already pointed out before music always goes in cycles... so let us hope that 2001 will turn out to be a better year for reggae music!

Teacher & Mr. T, December 31, 2000.



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