Monday, March 7, 2016

Culture Corner 3.7.2016

Dancehall Culture: White-Washing Rihanna's Work 

Dancehall is Caribbean and I will keep on reminding people until the day I die
Caribbean Massive Wi Haffi Mash Up Di Place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I decided to write this post because not only am I tired of people complaining that they don't "understand" what Rihanna is saying in her new song "Work" but I'm really tired of reputable 
sources calling it gibberish. I mean if you don't like it that's cool because you don't have to, but 
to call it gibberish is offensive because it's racist. I always treat that word with suspicion and 
this is why.  In the Oxford language dictionary there are a few examples used to describe the 
term gibberish:

“He repeated some gibberish, which by the sound seemed to be Irish” (1748). 
“We have got two Flemish servants, and you should hear them jabbering” (1866). 
“The aborigines speak an unintelligible gibberish” (1884). 

Animals are also described as speaking gibberish, so to call someone's language gibberish implies that isn't valid and it also implies that they are somehow sub-human or less than an English speaker. Anything related to Black Culture always has it's validity challenged and once it deviates from the standard white music critics dismiss it. But right away I knew what was up. 

They ain't low.

Rihanna's first Hit "Pon Di Replay"

When "Pon Di Replay" came out granted it didn't have as much Caribbean vernacular but no one was asking what the title"Pon Di Replay" meant and it obviously isn't standard English, but they let it slide. "Work" however received so much backlash (a plethora of memes) and an actual Anglicized cover with messed up lyrics (which completely changed the meaning of song). Listen at your own risk.

So please everyone...don't believe the hype. 
This New Zealand based choreographer did not create dancehall or 
any of the dances in this video, it existed long before her. 
And if your going to appropriate dancehall and not give the Caribbean
community any credit at least learn how to "wine."

That's the way it's supposed to be done.


It's supposed to be smooth, effortless and sexy. She's putting in "work".

Justin Bieber's "Sorry" choreographer in 2015 claims these dance moves came from her
own personal, internal inspiration.

Patra the dancehall artist in 1991.

Patra a proud Jamaican, doing the "Butterfly" in 1991.

Rihanna a proud Bajan bringing it back in 2016.
Just so you know Justin's video ripped off of Jamaican Dancehall artist
Spice's video for the song "Needle Eye."

The moves, the bright colors and the
all white background are too similar.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't embrace Dancehall music and culture but give credit where credit is due. Stop whitewashing our music under the assumption that our language is gibberish. Stop claiming that our dance moves came from your own personal inspiration.

One love,


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