Rototom Sunsplash, one of the largest platforms in the world for reggae music, will celebrate its 20th staging this August 17-24, in Benicassim, Spain.
Coinciding with the milestone is the recent groundswell of new-generation conscious acts from Jamaica known as the ‘Reggae Revival’.
Acknowledging this, festival organisers have decided to host a discussion specifically about the movement, in addition to having some of its representatives perform on stage.
In the words of Rototom’s artistic director, Sabrina Trovant, “The 20th Rototom Sunsplash will highlight the Reggae Revival, the new cultural movement which is responsible for the recent revitalisation of music and arts in Jamaica.”
Performing on two different stages will be the likes of Protoje & The Indiggnation, Kabaka Pyramid, Iba MaHr, Exco Levi and the more experienced Dubtonic Kru, a band whose emergence predated and even helped to inspire the current revivalists.
“At our Reggae University, some of those artistes will join the revivalist writer Dutty Bookman, ambassador of the new rebellious youth in Jamaica, and another key figure of the movement,” continued Trovant.
“He has been invited to share with our audience his idea of activism and revolution to build a better world.”
Dutty Bookman is a self-declared revolutionary and author of the 2011 memoir, Tried & True: Revelations of a Rebellious Youth. He is credited for popularising the ‘Reggae Revival’ term, and has been working to educate the global public about the nature of the movement.
In February, at the 2013 International Reggae Conference at the University of the West Indies, he sat on a Reggae Revival panel with Protoje, Jah9 and legendary guitarist, Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith.
More recently, in June, Bookman hosted Kingston on the Rise in Washington, DC. It was the first formal introduction of the movement to a foreign audience. Among more than 100 captivated attendees were a number of luminaries, including noted reggae historian, Dera Tompkins.
“The Reggae Revival is an important movement because it involves I and I taking control of the definition, messaging and future branding of our own cultural and political expressions,” Tompkins reflected after the event.
“It is a step that should have been taken years ago, but now the next generation has stepped up to confirm and extend the tradition of conscious reggae music. I am inspired by the new army of young, cultural warriors who have taken position on the front line.”
Her comment underscored the longstanding global appeal of authentic Jamaican cultural outputs, and it seems the Reggae Revival fits the mold. Popular websites like LargeUp.com and the MTV-operated MTVIggy.com have also been featuring regular stories about the movement. With its apparently increasing popularity, there is renewed opportunity for local civil society, private sector and government entities to invest in an able new generation of youth, especially as they are already demonstrating their readiness to participate in the steering of the country’s creative industries.
The musical ambassadors on the upcoming panel in Spain are Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid and Iba MaHr, all of whom have been injecting new life in the local music industry. The only non-musician on the panel will be Dutty Bookman, who is expected to bring added value to the discussion and also to the movement as a whole. This is according to Reggae University host, Pete Lily.
“We are happy to welcome Dutty Bookman to a session on the Reggae Revival, as he is an intellectual thinker and chronicler of the movement that includes so much more than music,” said Lily.
“We are looking forward to an exciting and enlightening discussion that will help spread the movement to a new audience.”