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Tarrus Riley: reggae is still popular in mainstream culture

REGGAE DEFENDER: Tarrus Riley

JAMAICAN STAR Tarrus Riley says reggae music is still popular in mainstream culture, despite what cynics say.

The She’s Royal hitmaker defended the genre that earned him fame, insisting it is incorrect to suggest the popularity of the famed Jamaican music has waned.

“Mainstream popular culture is definitely into reggae music,” Riley told The Voice. “Bruno Mars is making reggae music, John Legend is making reggae music, and it’s popular throughout Europe.

“Reggae music is the oldest new music and newest old music!”

Dismissing the notion that the current incarceration of dancehall stars Buju Banton and Vybz Kartel has damaged reggae’s reputation, Riley retorted: “I hear Vybz Kartel on the radio every day in Jamaica and his songs are doing well.

“And reggae artists are travelling and performing throughout the world, so what is wrong with the music?”

Asked specifically about what some British reggae lovers might deem as the current absence of a mainstream reggae star – as Shaggy was in the nineties and Sean Paul was in the early noughties – Riley feels this a separate issue.

“If people are talking about wanting another mainstream star, that’s different. But I don’t think the absence of a global star is a reason to say reggae music is on the decline.

“Furthermore, Damian Marley is a mainstream star.”

He adds: “Reggae music is like medicine for people; it’s a personal thing. So with or without a mainstream star, reggae has its place and remains important to people throughout the world.”

Read the full exclusive Tarrus Riley interview in next week’s issue of The Voice, out on August 1

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