SANTIAGO – Jamaican singer Protoje is considered in his homeland to be the “leader” of the “Reggae Revival” movement, a phenomenon that has renewed the sound that arose on the island starting in the 1960s thanks to a generation of young artists with growing popularity around the world.
“Jamaica is having its best musical period in the last 15-20 years. It’s not the same as when Bob Marley and the other stars dominated the scene, but I’m sure that we’re at a high point. It’s something that makes me very thankful, for being able to be here and be a witness,” the singer said.
Protoje spoke with EFE during his visit to Santiago to participate for the first time in the Lollapalooza Festival, where he performed on Saturday along with the Indiggnation Band, with whom he has shared the stage on five continents in recent years.
Together, the performers presented their latest work – “A Matter of Time” (2018) – with a show that emphasized the group’s broad range of talent, uniting the use of the bass, percussion and guitar with digital and choral sounds.
Protoje rocketed to fame thanks to numbers like “Rasta Love” along with Ky-Mani Marley, and “Who Knows,” on which he collaborated with another of the island’s young stars of the genre, Chronixx, and which has garnered more than 100 million views on Youtube.
The latest tune appears on their 2015 “Ancient Future” album, where the singer openly displays his own well-defined style, which pulls directly from hip-hop, dub and rock.
The album has been considered one of the top works to emerge from the Reggae Revival movement, a reaction to the excessive prominence of one of Jamaica’s other great musical genres – dancehall – with its quicker and more festive rhythms, but broadly questioned for its violent and sexual lyrics.
“The music scene in Jamaica changed (after the arrival of Reggae Revival). People are connecting to the music. The vibes in the island’s air sound a little different now, although dancehall continues to reign, which is fine, but I think that our music is having a real impact,” Protoje said.
The movement currently has a long list of singers and producers, including Jah 9, Keznamdi, Jesse Royal, Micah Shemaiah and Philip “Winta” James, who have created a “community where everyone supports everyone else” and “just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t help and teach” others.
“Thanks to this joint effort we’re pushing many people who are having a great impact on the world level. The latest example is Koffee, who has her own style and is blazing a new trail at just age 19,” the singer said.
She is the newest bulwark of a legion of artists from the Caribbean nation who are ready to return its healing power and social unification to reggae.
“My first love was hip-hop, but I was born in Jamaica and reggae and dancehall run through my veins,” Protoje said.
But if there’s one thing that Jamaica has proven over the last 60 years it’s the small island’s ability to influence the international music scene.
“In the next two years new music is coming, new experiments, many innovations. Without doubt, this is one of the most interesting times in recent history to be following the music coming out of Jamaica,” Protoje said.