Sounds of Oppression: Video Essay

Wallace, R & Johnson, D. Reggae Innovation and Sound System Culture International Conference, 04-05 April 2018, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham

Wallace, R. & Johnson, D. (2019) From Sleng Teng to Skankin in the Dancehall, [Video Essay] The British Universities and Colleges Film and Video Council. Learning on Screen Journal: Decolonizing Issue March 2020 (tbc)

Video Essay by Roy Wallace and Daniel Johnson

Also presented at Global Studies Association (GSA) Conference held at The University of Northampton, 31 May – 01 June 2018. See:

The history of the reggae sound system inheritance passed down through generations in various music styles (Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, Dancehall and various sub-genres where it has fused with other cultures). The words and phrases describe the same fight concerning social exclusion within the Black diaspora. The crisis in mainstream UK Reggae scene concerns the ‘invisibility’ of Reggae music or lack of recognition where elements of the culture are being used within the mainstream entertainment and media outlets. Reggae and Sound system culture is also undervalued within the African-Caribbean culture with the essence of the cultural practices now stigmatised or diminished in favour of contemporary music genres and commercial interests focused on celebrity. We would argue that the musical legacy should give recognition to the ‘roots’ of the Reggae and sound systems within Jamaican culture which has been replaced by commercial rather than authentic interests in the practices. Often those from the authentic origins are easily exploited and replaced in mainstream UK media by ‘sanitised’ celebrities which could be viewed as institutional racism working to exclude the authentic voices in Reggae. In this twenty-minute video essay we will explore some potential alternatives to current trends and examine what steps might be required to return ‘The Lost Inheritance of the UK Reggae scene’ to its righteous place in contemporary UK culture.


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Date:4 April 2018
Date Type:Publication
Event Title:Reggae Innovation and Sound System Culture International Conference
Event Dates:04-05 April 2018
Event Location:Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham
Event Type:Conference
Status:Published / Disseminated