Jamaica has been a major player on the world music stage for decades. If you disagree, examine the influence of Jamaican musical genres on Hip Hop and American pop music. Countless samples and collaborations aside, one of the more prominent Jamaica/Hip-Hop connections comes in the form of DJ Khaled’s enduring affiliation with the island and some of its heavy hitters.
His relationship with artistes like Buju Banton is also well documented. The super producer has been publicly acknowledged as a ‘dear friend’ to some of Jamaica’s most respected musicians, with Gargamel himself referring to Khaled as ‘an original’.
Khaled is not the only foreigner to recognize the musical significance of Jamaica with an overdue visit. Kanye West, for instance, has made waves for visiting the Holy Land of music for reasons some may say are controversial. In 2019, the Hip Hop superstar hosted a spontaneous ‘open church’ concert in Emancipation Park in Kingston. While Christians using music as a medium to express their love for the Lord is anything but questionable, the artiste’s team proceeded to capitalize on the publicity garnered from this concert and sold Jamaica-branded merchandise via an e-commerce platform. Kanye had no legal right to use said images for commercial purposes. There was also the curious case of Kanye flying to meet Buju at the height of the pandemic, with zero transparency on the COVID-19 safety protocols observed throughout the occasion.
DJ Khaled was last spotted in Jamaica linking up with Buju Banton as recently as April. In his company this trip were American artistes The Migos and H.E.R, all of whom are featured on the anticipated “Khaled Khaled”.
If Jamaica has indeed become the Mecca of World Music, Khaled would be one of the country’s most frequent visitors, offering homage.
The producer’s latest effort (at the time of writing) sees Reggae and Dancehall legends like Bounty Killa, Capleton, and Buju Banton teaming up to bring the world “Where you come from”, a gritty yet uplifting track, brought to life by the legendary vocals of some of Jamaica’s stalwarts.
It would be hard to argue against the super producer’s efforts, at the very least, introducing the Jamaican sound to new generations of listeners, notably among American demographics.
Indeed, Jamaica’s relationship with the music world, like most things, is a mixed bag; not all collaborations garnered the controversy observed in Kanye’s latest antics related to the island. Jay-Z and Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley collaborated on the “Bram” video in 2017, which resulted in a press run, including the Hip Hop mogul getting a tour of Trench Town. In addition, singing sensation, the late Amy Winehouse, had turned to Jamaica to record her 3rd studio album in 2010, while struggling to overcome her drug addiction.
Who is to say that this influx of foreigners will give way to Jamaican music being ‘highjacked’ or ‘watered down’? Some would argue that Reggae music was inspired by the great American Funk and R&B singers to begin with; not to mention Hip Hop is a direct descendant of Jamaican Dancehall that spawned from a mingling of Jamaican/American cultures dating back to late 70s New York.
All things considered, Khaled’s affiliation with Jamaican music is not at all unfamiliar.
It would be hard to argue against the super producer’s efforts, at the very least, introducing the Jamaican sound to new generations of listeners, notably among American demographics”