Dancehall: Bob Marley and The Wailers

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In 1807, slavery was abolished; however, Jamaica did not gain its full independence until 1962; and the days of slavery had taken its toll on the inhabitants of the island, resulting in anger and resentment. Even today, the remnants of racial, economic and social inequalities still remain. Instead of a rebellion, the poor fought authority through music. Music was one outlet in which this anger and resentment was expressed. Through this very music dancehall emerged (Hebdige, 26). Dancehall has many pseudonyms depending upon who is describing or researching it. Some say it is a culture, a style of fashion, a genre of music, or a lifestyle; while others refer to it as the spaces where popular dub recordings were aired by local sound systems (Stolzoff, 6). While there has been little literature written about dancehall; what all writers can agree upon is that it was born in the ghettos of Jamaica with the sensation of ‘rude boys’, and it is a crucial factor in expressing one’s identity and culture. Many of these youths migrated from the rural areas of Jamaica to Kingston in search of the idea of a better life; however, with little education and no marketable skills, many were forced to settle in Kingston’s ghettos. It was also during this time that Bob Marley and the Wailers were using the nonviolent and revolutionary religious styles of Rastafari and Reggae music to express their discontent, as well as challenge injustice. Believing Rastafarians were too passive, the ‘rude boys’ were a representation of their environment, appearing aggressive and confrontational. Their songs were a manifestation of violence, economic, social, political, and domestic issues, representing life in the ghetto (Hope 2006:13).

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... Piece of Land: Female Sexuality, Family, and Capital in Caribbean Texts. Callaloo, 31;4.

Hebdige, Dick (2000) Cut and Mix: Culture, Identity, and Caribbean Music, New York, NY

Hope, Donna P. (2006) Passa Passa: Interrogating Cultural Hybridities in Jamaican Dancehall, Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, 119-113

Niaah, Sonjah Stanley (2010) Dancehall: From Slave Ship to Ghetto, Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.

Stolzoff, Norman C. (2000) Wake the Town and Tell the People, Durham and London: Duke University Press

Websites:écile Stephenson
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