Local Reggae and Dancehall snubbed by Local DJ’s

Are South African Reggae & Dancehall DJ’s Playing any Reggae from South Africa?

There is a growing frustration among Reggae Dancehall artists about the lack of airplay by Radio DJ’s who hold Reggae Slots on both National Broadcaster, Independent and Community Radio Stations. The main gripe is that they play mostly Jamaican music and disregarding local talent. This sort of lament has been ongoing for while now, what is new is that some bold artists are being vocal about it and using social media to call out the injustice that they feel is being done to them.

About a year ago, Steve Netshishivhe vented out his frustration after listening to a show and posed the question: Are SA artists not good enough?

Fortunately, the radio host in question responded and joined in the conversation. He, just like all the other DJ’s, believe that the local production output is sub standard. The discussion went well into the new year and the DJ was presented with a variety of local songs that could make the cut. It turns out he did not know about the songs nor the artists presented to him.

The argument, that local acts do not produce quality music is thrown about loosely and carelessly. It is a blanket statement that trivialise the issue. For one, most often than not, whoever uses that argument, does not even know a quarter of South African Reggae artist and their songs, so one wonders how do you judge what you don’t know, this judgement/conclusion about low-quality output is based on what, two songs?

Our artists are out there putting so much effort in their crafts, some even opting for their post production to be done in Europe or Jamaica just to raise the quality of their recordings. But they are all being stereotyped as low quality, even before their music is heard. Subpar output exists, but it does not define our local reggae artistry.

Recently, popular artist Black Dillinger posted about the same issue, following a rant by one DJ Krazy Blakkah. The post was directed to DJ’s Admiral and Jah Seed who hosts Raggatack on popular independent youth station, YFM.

Krazy Blakkah breaks it down in percentages and believes the two DJ’s only play 1% local music. Of that 1%, its only or mostly Gauteng artists.

Here is Raggattack Top Ten for March 29, 2017.

But it’s not only Radio DJ’s who are guilty of this AND its not only the Raggattack duo, all radio hosts holding a Reggae/Dancehall slot should be targeted and scrutinised. Club DJ’s as well do not play local reggae and dancehall music at clubs and gigs. When they do its only 1%, and from that 1% it’s only their friend’s music that they play.  The mixtapes that they put out as well only have 1 or 2 local artists/songs on the playlist, and that is IF they put out any mixtape. The Clash DJ’s as well spend loads of money for Dubplates on foreign artist yet complain when local acts charge for Dubs.

Our local artists are also suffering from a self-entitlement complex. They expect and demand to have their music played and to be promoted without putting any effort themselves. Its difficult to get their music, we don’t know where to buy it be it online or physical copies; they do not submit their music to these radio stations; some do not even have their music registered with the right authorities; they do not mobilise and engage their fan base; hardly ever engage in an aggressive promotional campaign; their presence on social media is non-existant apart from Facebook; YES, some produce very low-quality music; and they are never part of the national dialogue.

Last year, when the SABC announced that radical move of having their Radio stations play 90% local music, the local reggae artists did not jump at the opportunity and capitalise on it, even when the policy gave special and particular attention to Reggae.

We wrote about this here. SABC to start playing 90% local Music, what does it mean for Local Reggae?

So who is to blame?