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HELP Reggae: The drug question.

Discussion in 'Music' started by DonnaWanda1, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. I'm about to start Reggae with my year 8s and I feel unprepared for the obvious drug questions that might crop up.
    Anyone have any suggestions?
  2. I'm about to start Reggae with my year 8s and I feel unprepared for the obvious drug questions that might crop up.
    Anyone have any suggestions?
  3. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I don't see it as greatly different to dealing with Berlioz's opium addiction, manifested in the Symphonie Fantastique, Debussy and Satie blowing their minds on absinthe at Le Chat Noir, or Mussorgsky writing Pictures at an Exhibition while being at least three sheets to the wind.
    As far as Y8 is concerned the music is perfectly enjoyable without knowing about such background - but be careful about overt lyrics (although it always seems to me that references to sexual prowess, homophobia and gun violence are at least as common as those about drugs).
    At the end of the day, I don't suppose anyone is forcing you to tackle reggae in Y8, if you feel worried about these aspects of the style?
  4. TrueFaith

    TrueFaith New commenter

    I would suggest that you focus on the positive aspects of lyrics in reggae - that lyrics focus on love and freedom and political struggles (hardly positive, I know - but not about drugs or homophobia...). If you look at the vintage Trojan recordings from the 60s/70s, you will find plenty there you can use.

    In terms of the drug issue, if it comes up, I would personally stick with the truth, that marijuana is a big part of rastafarianism - then move swiftly on... Although a quick chat with your PSE co-ordinator may help you to ensure you're on the right lines, and working within school policy guidelines...

    I always find a quick (and correctly informed) rebuttal to potential controversial topics much easier than denial or outright lying.
  5. tanbur

    tanbur New commenter

    I'm not sure why drugs comes up as an issue if you are listening to Bob Marley and others. There are so many reggae songs with really positive lyrics, not drugs related.
    Why not broaden the topic to 'Jamaican Music' or 'Music from the Caribbean'.
    I've had interesting responses from students when presenting a song from Jamaican folk lore called 'Elena'. The song tells of a girl and her mother working the fields, the girl goes home because she has a belly ache. Her mother tells her to go home and boil some ceresse, but the girl is not familiar with the plant and picks night sage instead - a deadly poison! Fortunately the mother goes home before her daughter drinks the wrong potion, the correct plant is found and boiled in the saucepan. Mother tells Elena to 'member ceresse, for a it cure ya bad pain a belly'. You can find the song in one of the A & C Black publications.
  6. Not all reggae is by or about Rastas, but it might end up easier to prepare yourself for some questions about drugs and drug-fuelled mysticism than go into some of the other issues touched upon in ruff Jamaican reggae (domestic violence? STDs? gay-bashing? Promiscuity and the expectation of serial single-parenthood?).
    British reggae is far more anodyne, lyrically and musically, but that's a cop-out!
  7. v12


    "Red, red wi-i-ine. Goes to my he-e-ad".........
  8. Exactly.
  9. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    That song is by Neil Diamond - an American.
  10. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Good advice.
  11. v12


    Ahh, yes. But more famously by British reggae group UB40 whose version topped both the US and UK singles charts.
    Which is more than Neil 'He Ain't Heavy' Diamond ever managed to achieve.
  12. And about as un-Jamaican as you can get, anyway.
  13. v12


    Is it important where any particular piece of reggae music, or the band that plays it, comes from?
    Surely insisting that reggae or its performers can only come from Jamaica would be like saying that, say, Mitsuko Uchida can't be any good at interpreting Mozart because she is Japanese*.

    * note to YesMrBronson: I know, I know! She's a naturalised Brit (and a DBE to boot) but I couldn't, off the top of my head, think of any other famous and obviously Eastern 'classical' musicians.
  14. We "do" reggae in Y8, and I usually start with a quick "what do you know?"session: one of the things that always comes up is "don't they use drugs?". I tend to say something along the lines of what TrueFaith suggested (that marijuana is indeed used by many Rastafarians) and move on: as long as the kids don't think I'm avoiding anything they seem quite happy with that.

  15. No,
    I wouldn't say that at all. What I'm saying is that the band UB40 and
    other British reggae artists have a completely different, smoother and
    less gutsy sound from the Jamaican artists of the same period. I think
    when they made their recordings they had more than half an eye on the
    question of whether they would get played on the radio and I think that
    is why they
    have lost the "slack lyrics" of some of the Jamaican Dance Hall artists,
    which would mean that DonnaWanda had less to worry about content that's
    "inappropriate" for Year 8. Whether you think the music is as good (or
    better), is a matter of opinion.
  16. v12


    Very clear reply. Thank you.
  17. Thanks everyone. I think I'll go with TrueFaith on this one, honesty in the best policy... well a few carefully selected facts rather than trying to dodge the questions.
    You've all helped a PGCE student out of a bind. Cheers.
  18. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Oh dear! Please don't feel you have to be on your toes for me v12; I think you offer some of the best advice on here. [​IMG]

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