Jamaican Music

VIDEO: Online Music Blogger Says “Work,” “Sorry” Tracks Are Dancehall


Nerd Writer, a U.S.-based online music blogger, believes that Rolling Stone magazine is wrong when it classifies “Work,” the recent single from Rihanna, as in the tropical house genre instead of dancehall. He points to the fact that the single liberally samples “Sail Away,” a classic dancehall rhythm released in 1998 by Richie Stephens. The blogger has provided a six-minute video on YouTube to prove that “Work” has its roots in dancehall; the video includes songs from the tropical house genre to illustrate the differences in sound between the two genres. The blogger noted that tropical house music has a slow tempo that generally features steel drums, marimba, pan flutes, and other instruments of Caribbean and African origin. He believes that the erroneous classification of “Work” by Rolling Stone presents an opportunity to examine more closely some of the trends in popular music. Nerd Writer says that it is important to recognize the lineage of both tropical house and dancehall in order to give each its due. The Rolling Stone article has sparked comments from many sources, including from Lisa Hanna, Jamaica’s Minister of Youth and Culture, who stated on social media, that the magazine give dancehall more credit. She wrote, “Rihanna’s Work is dancehall. Rihanna sampled the classic Sail Away rhythm, a 1998 Jamaican rhythm by Richie Stephens and Mikey 2000. Rihanna publicly gave the credit. Why can’t you?” And Richie Stephens himself is campaigning to lessen the impact of the inaccuracy in Rolling Stone, saying that some people are on a “mission” to rebrand the culture of dancehall. He also noted that Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” which Nerd Blogger says is “blatantly dancehall” and which uses Jamaican dance moves in its video, did not include any Jamaican dancers or give any credit to the Jamaicans who created those moves.

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Stephanie Korney