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Global Reggae Launched

Prof Carolyn Cooper (left) and DJ Afifa (right)

A sprinkling of rain drifted down as Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus delivered their invocation for the launch of Global Reggae, edited by Professor Carolyn Cooper. But it was stirring reggae music that would reign on the night with performances by some the music’s rising talents Protoje, Nomaddz, Jah9 and Cali P.

Before the performances took over however, the formalities, hosted by Kingsley Cooper, were to be had. Dr. Michael Bucknor Head of the Department of Literatures in English presented greetings during which he lauded Cooper’s academic prowess as well as her sense of style.

“I would like to claim you as our rebel intellectual,” Bucknor said. He commended Prof Cooper for her work in cementing reggae as a part of the fabric of the University of the West Indies from her seminal publication Noises in the Blood, through to her establishment of the Reggae Studies Unit and the various courses on reggae. “We would all like to emulate the scholarly integrity of her work,” Bucknor said. Kingsley Cooper and Ras Michael and the Suns of Negus

Michelle ‘DJ Afifa’ Harris was the event’s guest speaker, and true to form she integrated her skills as a disc jockey with her presentation using music to augment her opening statements. DJ Afifa commended the book on the questions it raises in the cultural landscape.

“This book is asking some questions we’ve always been asking, some questions we need to ask and some questions we’ve forgotten to ask,” she said. She noted that Global Reggae recommends that we move beyond viewing the music as mere backdrop to advertisements selling the country or nationalist propaganda but instead as a way to continue to influence national and global change.

“The collection for me is a reminder that in the beginning there was word, sound and rhythm,” Afifa said. She noted that the book is suitable for neither a passive nor leisurely read, but instead is ideal for the reggae revolutionary.

When Prof Cooper took the stand, she noted that she would not go into details about the book. She however contextualized it by noting that historically far more scholarship about reggae music has come from beyond Jamaica’s shores than within. She pointed to Garth White as the rare exception. “When the foreigners were busy seeking out the culture, many of us were busy running and running and running away,” she said.
Protoje accompanied by Jason Warton performs at the launch of Global Reggae
Prof Cooper outlined the journey from a lecture on reggae at the Jamaica Conference Centre through to the creation of the Reggae Studies Unit and eventually the Global Reggae Conference. She noted that when the event was first suggested many believed a very substantial conference could not be produced.
Global Reggae is published by UWI Press and features the plenary sessions from the inaugural Global Reggae Conference in 2008. Contributors to the text include Erna Brodber, Peter Ashbourne, Roger Steffens, Clive Walker and Carolyn Cooper.

NomaddzThe night closed with short yet engaging performances from artists on the verge of their own global careers. Jah 9 opened the set of acoustic performances which included the title track from her upcoming album ‘New Name’. She was followed to the stage by Protoje, fresh from the launch of his sophomore project The Eight Year Affair. Protoje performed ‘Playing in the Streets’ followed by ‘8 Year Affair’ before closing with ‘Kingston Be Wise’. Nomaddz further enlivened the space with their dramatic delivery, while Cali P brought the evening to a close.

Global Reggae was launched at Pulse8, Trafalgar Road, Kingston on Sunday, February 17, 2013.