The problem with white reggae has always been that reggae depends for its force on its context: the rich rock insider’s take on I Shot the Sheriff can never really capture the intensity of a song about struggling for freedom and killing a policeman. Then there’s the perpetually thorny issue of white performers co-opting the culture of a historically oppressed minority.
All of which makes it surprising that there is a new crop of white reggae performers, eschewing the melanin-deficient basslines and embarrassing attempts at patois that have caught out their predecessors. These artists even market themselves not to the crossover market but to hardcore reggae fans – including those in Jamaica. Maybe, finally, there is white reggae that is more than a pale imitation of the real thing.