Yunnan reggae : music and politics
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Reggae music, from its birth in 1960s Jamaica to the current day, has gone through considerable changes and spread global influences. Since The Wailer's release of Catch A Fire in 1973 that hit the world stage, reggae has become a popular international music genre (Manuel & Neely 44). Today, reggae is present in all corners of the world with a wide variety of sound ranging from imitation to reinterpretation, appropriation to acculturation. As a result, the mighty message in roots reggae is inevitably used or abused by non-Jamaican cultures, either contributing to their pursuit of truth and formation of identity, or reduced into subcultural signs for consumption and exploitation. The key to analyze and evaluate contemporary reggae not only lies in the music, but also inthe context behind music, including the life of musicians and the soil that nurtures them. Among the diverse subgenres of reggae created out of the fusion between reggae and non-Jamaican cultures, Chinese reggae is particularly unique and complex. Despite the recondite history of the Chinese influence on the production and commercialization of roots reggae in Jamaica during the 1950s and '60s, contemporary China provides an exemplary point of entry to study the international phase of reggae, marked by natural and artificial musical fusions. Among the plethora of worldwide reggae fusions, what is the current state of Chinese reggae? How does it come into being? Is it an appropriation of reggae or a genuine fusion that carries the mantle of roots reggae, and what is the implication? To explore these questions, it is necessary to first look at the music and message of reggae and compare it with Chinese reggae.
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