Reggae Music In Black History: The Intersect of Transnationalism

The month of February is an inspiring month for me due to Dr. Carter G. Woodson's commitment to preserving the untold history of Black Americans. Dr. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History as well as established the scholarly publication Journal of Negro History.

n February 1926, Dr. Woodson created Negro History Week as an intellectual liberatory practice for the African diasporan people. While some complaints have been directed towards February as a problematic month of selection, Dr. Woodson attached Negro History Week to emancipators that were born in February. Now, this celebration has become globally celebrated in Canada, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. It was Dr. Woodson's innate vision that assured people of the African diaspora would intersect through transnationalism, which became a conduit for cultural acceptance and inclusion. Such relationship-building considers the Caribbean influence in Black American musical genres.

Transnationalism refers to the diffusion and extension of social, political, economic processes in between and beyond the sovereign jurisdictional boundaries of nation-states. International processes are increasingly governed by non-state actors and international organizations.

The Insert of the Caribbean in Black American Culture [1]

Soul music historian and author, Robert A. Brown honors the 50-year celebration of The Sound of Philadephia as he stated, "In 1971, The Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP) was started by Leon Huff and Kenny Gamble. The groundbreaking music and social consciousness of these two were a cornerstone for our culture [2]." But, added to the foundation of TSOP was Jamaican-born Thom Bell.

Now, I know you are asking, How does this aspect of Black History Month intersect within transnationalism? We can consider transnationalism through the cultural transition of Thom Bell's songwriting talent [3]. Based on the American racial construct, Bell's talent transcended his nationalism. Thus transnationalism allowed for the intersect of Caribbean people to be absorbed in Black American culture. Bell's writing talents are such Philly classics as "Betcha By Golly Wow" sung by the Stylistics and the Delfonics who are infamous with, "Hey Love" and "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time".

(Designed by Robert A. Brown)

Another example of transnationalism is when Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer attempted their hand as a soul group in the mid-60s when Bob resided with his mother in Delaware. However, home-sweet-home Jamaica brought them back to their native land, and the rest is history. Yet the sound of Jamaican ska integrated Black American music when Millie Small's hit, "My Boy Lollipop" entered the soul and pop charts in 1964.

When British-Caribbeans heard the sound of American soul music alongside Reggae music, a new sound in London evolved during the same time TSOP evolved. Thus transnationalism created the sound of Lover's Rock, which was a mixture of American soul music and Caribbean riddims [4].

Yet, one of the most influential aspects of transnationalism is the origin of Hip-Hop. As a cultural phenomenon, the evolution of Rap occurred during the mid-1970s when Jamaican-American, Clive DJ Kool Herc Campbell [5], and his family relocated to The Bronx (New York). Herc brought the Jamaican dancehall talk-over DJ style to local parties that began the root of Hip-Hop. Now, I have to acknowledge that there is so much more to this story, and "Big-Up" to all of my fellow Caribbean New Yorkers and their multiple contributions to this American construct. Big-up to the B-Boys that created the bad boy flava and dance moves. Big-up to street artists that created the art of graffiti; who remember the subway cars? Although the original premise of Hip-Hop culture has been masturbated and convoluted, the intersect of the origins of American Hip-Hop is very Caribbean.

You ask, "How does Reggae tie into Black History Month?" As Jamaica honor The Honorable Robert Nester Marley OM (born February 6, 1945), Reggae Month also honors the contributions that the Caribbean has presented not only to Black America but to the world. The image of Bob Marley is always presented during Black History Month, as well as Biggie Smalls, and other Jamaican-Americans.

February now has an added dimension of understanding African diasporan contributions to American culture. Black History Month has always included Caribbean cultural contributions as the Caribbean community inserted cultural nuances through the intersect of transnationalism. It reflects the hidden history of black contributions, such as the rhythms of the Caribbean to the sociopolitical designs, as in Madame Vice-President, Kamala Harris. Let's consider this intersect and celebrate Black History Month and Reggae Month.

[Ten Greatest Jamaican-American Hip-Hop Rappers [6]

Rasta For I.


[2]; You can find Brown on Linkedin and Facebook. Know Your Soul: The Music of A Lifetime, Robert A. Brown (2016).





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