A wha do dem?…

‘A wha do dem’…How could reggae have produced dancehall?

‘A wha do dem, a wha do dem dem dem…..mi nuh kno oh….’. These are classic lines from a dancehall tune back in the 1980s when the musical genre was thought to have emerged. Such lines form part of musical aesthetic structures that are founded on toasting, vibing and chanting to please crowds of celebrants typically atending dancehall events or ‘dances’. Dancehall style emerged in the work of Count Matchukie and King Stitt in the late 1950s and begins the era of the dancehall musical genre. How then can we say that reggae gave birth to dancehall? Have we all been mistaken? What is even more is that we continue to give credence to the technological shifts that give way to computerized rhythms and the proliferation in lyrics about women’s body parts when such strands were always a part of the lyrical repertoire. As for the technology, shifts from the juke box my grandfather bought for entertaining patrons in his shop, to pressing vinyl, and the broadcast capacity via radio stations, need not be discounted any longer!

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