State of Emergency: Reggae Reflections on Jamaica’s Partisan Politics

Music is a powerful means of expression in Jamaica–a platform for fierce commentary, and a bellwether for the social and political climate on the island. In Jamaica, when local newspapers, broadcast media and elected representatives don’t tell the whole story, you’ve got to listen to the music! With the help of scholars and artists like Max Romeo and King Jammy, this program delves into the way that Jamaican popular music has always sharply commented on partisan politics in Jamaica while also revealing that Jamaican politicians have often attempted to co-opt and subvert reggae’s liberating messages for their own purposes. Particular attention is paid to the turbulent Cold War era of the mid-1970s, when foreign influence led to what was basically an undeclared civil war and reggae’s popularity was at its highest. Produced by Saxon Baird and David Katz.