Reggae musician Protoje has sparked controversy on social media and in the entertainment industry with a tweet condemning artistes who comment negatively on the state of the Jamaican dancehall music industry but have not helped in the progression of the careers of other artistes.
Many fans speculate that the tweet was geared towards Reggae and dancehall pioneer, Buju Banton, who made similar comments during interviews that were aired in the past week.
Earlier this week, Protoje posted a tweet in which he declared that artistes who have been a part of Jamaica’s music industry for over ten years but have never assisted in the growth of another artiste’s career cannot make comments about the current state of the industry. “Personally no artist Wah in a the business over 10 years and don’t give another artist a platform or help buss somebody can’t say anything to me about the state of the industry,” he tweeted.
His tweet has since garnered increasing speculation from Reggae and Dancehall fans who are eager to learn to whom he refers.
In replies to his tweet uploaded on Tuesday, several Twitter users have suggested possible entertainers such as Sizzla, Konshens and Spice. However, most users agreed that Protoje’s tweet was directed towards Buju Banton and his statements made during two interviews in the past week.
During interviews with OnStage and BBC Radio 1Xtra at Gargamel Studios last weekend and Monday respectively, Buju Banton spoke about his return to music after his seven-year incarceration in the United States. During these interviews, Buju also expressed his concern about Dancehall music losing its authenticity and the hard work that was associated with honing one’s craft and building a career as a Dancehall artiste.
Buju Banton (Source: Buju Official on Facebook)
“We have to hone wi skill, hone wi talent, practice; so performance become a ting, engrained in we from that time. That is why I think the industry is lacking now – nobody not going into the dance hall so di people dem can seh him can deejay. Is record DJ, we only heard dem pon di radio. When we put dem infront of we, we a wonder if a di same person dis we hear pon di record and it’s problematic. We have to re-educate the youths and fix di ting”, he said to Winford Williams during his interview with OnStage last weekend.
Buju then implored in his interview with BBC Radio 1Xtra that new and young Dancehall artistes recognize and respect the value of work and the music industry, and questioned whether the Dancehall industry had grown since his incarceration. He also reminisced on the collaboration between himself and other young Dancehall musicians emerging in the early 1990s, such as Dave Kelly, Tony Kelly and Wayne Wonder, and how they worked together to record, produce and advance their careers and Dancehall music.
“I see the music business suffering until the right ones dem come along weh musically inclined and understand that this music is not a hustle; until dem have quality control to mek sure seh the music can grow”, he reiterated to Seani B in a 46-minute interview with BBC Radio 1Xtra.
Oje “Protoje” Ollivierre has grown in the local and international Reggae industry and is well-known for his prolific works that examine and contest social and economic injustice. The artiste is largely known in the local industry as facilitator for new and upcoming Reggae artistes, such as Koffee, Lila Iké, Sevanna and Leno Banton, through his recording label In.Digg.Nation Collective.
He is also the cofounder of the New Wave cultural initiative that fosters new creative local talent across industries. From this perspective, many fans have agreed with the artiste’s stance that the current Dancehall industry is rife with clout chasing and jealousy – very similar to the concern Buju raised in his interview with BBC 1Xtra in allusion to the need for respect between artistes and his early collaboration with other young artistes in the mid-1990s.
In response to fans’ speculation that Protoje’s tweet is aimed at Buju Banton, several Twitter users have come to Buju’s defense by pointing out that Buju has mentored several Dancehall and Reggae artistes including Agent Sasco, who recorded his first single at Gargamel Studios, and Spragga Benz; and has served as inspiration for several artistes like Vybz Kartel, Chronixx and Mega Banton.
Neither Buju Banton nor Protoje have addressed the torrent of speculation online resulting from the tweet.