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The Beat Goes (Back) On!

We are very pleased and proud to announce a new feature at Afropop.org : reprints of selected articles from the late, lamented ma...

November 8, 2015

The Beat Goes (Back) On!

We are very pleased and proud to announce a new feature at Afropop.org: reprints of selected articles from the late, lamented magazine The Beat, which documented the emergence of reggae, African, Caribbean and world music on the international level. The Beat began publishing in 1982 as a handmade fanzine for the radio program “The Reggae Beat,” broadcasting from KCRW-FM in Santa Monica, CA. Over the 28 years of its existence, it grew into an internationally distributed glossy publication, until 2009, when the collapse of the economy coupled with that of the music and publishing industries forced it to close.  

The Beat‘s run encompassed a very exciting period in the growth and development of African and world music, when it seemed like every day a new artist or band would appear from one of the four corners of the world, and new music would be explored in the magazine’s pages. The Beat‘s time frame also corresponded with that of Afropop Worldwide, and we worked in tandem, with their radio programs often mirroring our articles, and APWW founders Banning Eyre and Sean Barlow also often contributing stories to the magazine as well.

As editor and publisher of The Beat, I always greatly admired Afropop’s productions, and I am now thrilled to be part of the team as Editor in Large for Afropop.org. This series of reprints of essential articles from The Beat will add historical perspective and background for Afropop’s coverage of current musical developments, with the advantage of now being able to enhance the stories online with music and video clips.

The Beat also goes on at Facebook. "Like" the pages of Beat Magazine and Afropop Worldwide to stay abreast of new feature articles as they are posted.We invite you to check in frequently to see what treasures we have unearthed from the Golden Age!

CC Smith, Afropop Editor at Large

November 23, 2014

Shame and Scandal in the Family

Commentary by The Beat's intrepid columnist Steve Heilig in The Gleaner about the latest dismaying development in Bob Marley's legacy, in which the Marley family has licensed Bob's name to a company marketing legalized marijuana. The news was reported last week: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/legal-pot/stir-it-bob-marley-headline-corporate-cannabis-brand-n250286

Reprinted from Jamaica Gleaner, published Nov. 23, 2014:  http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20141123/focus/focus4.html
Shame on family for peddling patriarch as brand
Steve Heilig, Guest Columnist

Dear Rita, Cedella, and Rohan Marley:
Congratulations on last week's very visible launch of your forthcoming Marley Natural brand of marijuana. As no doubt intended, you received worldwide media coverage.
But I am also compelled to ask: Have you no shame?
Don't get me wrong. As a longtime reggae fanatic and journalist, I have long revered Bob Marley's music and messages. I went to his concerts and even met him once - where I was in awe of his presence. The BEAT magazine, a leading world music journal and my primary publisher for many years, devoted entire issues to him every year.
Collectively, we, too, loved the man. And as for cannabis, I, too, favour legalisation and have even contributed to major medical policy papers advocating that - if carefully done.
But contrary to what Cedella has told the press, Bob Marley is not a brand. The businessmen you have partnered with to sell cannabis make no bones about their motivations - money, and money only. They are what Bob Marley referred to as "pure Babylon".
As you know, herb to him was a sacrament, not just another product to be marketed for profit by capitalists. Anti-herb drug warriors are already using your product launch as an example of Big Cannabis practices that will prove that marijuana should remain illegal. I strongly believe that rather than smiling about this latest attempt to cash in on his image, your father/husband is spinning in his grave.
Letter to Bob
You may have a way to redeem this looming debacle, however. Back in 2005, Stephen Davis, who knew Bob Marley and wrote one of the best books about him, penned a scathing open letter to him in The BEAT magazine. Davis lamented the infighting, greed, and scandal that ensued among your family after his death, and asked, very pointedly:
"Where is the Bob Marley Hospital for the Poor that should be operating in Spanish Town? Where is the Bob Marley Orphanage that should be the pride of St Ann's Bay? What about the Bob Marley Home for the Aged in Negril, or the Bob Marley Early Childcare Centre in Sligoville and Port Antonio? These non-existent institutions don't exist because your family has other priorities, which seem to be mostly themselves."
So here is your challenge, and your opportunity - which should be a relatively easy one to fulfil, as I very much doubt any of you are truly in need of more money. I note that there is a Healing of the Nation page on your new product website - which is so far blank. If you will now make a public, binding pledge to devote all profits from Marley cannabis to an independent, audited foundation that will provide the sort of essential human services Davis proposed, Bob Marley might indeed smile from beyond. Otherwise, many of us who remember his message will continue to believe that his family is defiling his memory.
And finally, in the same edition of the magazine where Mr Davis' open letter appeared, there was a 1936 speech by Emperor Haile Selassie, whom Bob Marley himself revered, of course. Its title: 'God and history will remember your judgment'. I humbly suggest you think about that before you attempt to cash in again on the name you have been so fortunate to inherit.

Steve Heilig is a health-care ethicist and ethnomusicologist based in San Francisco and Marin. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and heilig@sfms.org.

November 16, 2012

I & I ah de roots.....

From the Where Are They Now Dept.: Chuck Foster, author of The Beat's longest-running -- and longest -- column, "Reggae Update," has become a music producer, and here is his new production: We Roots, with contributions from 5 lovely ladies and one duet, mostly from Southern California. It's already on the CMJ chart and available online and on CDBaby and Amazon. Congratulations, Chuck, and bravo! http://catchmetime.com/19-sample-data-articles/joomla/8-newalbum

Catch Me Time Records presents a varied set of reggae music from a diverse group of female artists. The CD, recorded at Mystery Man and Rough Sounds studios in Los Angeles and produced by Chuck Foster, long-time host of Reggae Central on KPFK-LA, features vocals from Universal Speakers, Shayna Dread, Jessica Burks, Jordan Mercedes, Zema and Queen P inna showcase-style with each song followed by a full-length dub. All of the artists brings their own individual background, experience and quality to the mix.
We Roots gathers some of Southern California's finest musicians drawing on Jamaican styles from rock steady to roots and adding non-traditional elements for a unique sound. Women have always made a great contribution to reggae and this collection brings together a group of artists and styles that keep positive music moving forward in this crucial time. 

After writing about music for over twenty years in the Reggae Update column of Beat Magazine and as author of the books Roots Rock Reggae: An Oral History of Reggae Music From Ska To Dancehall (Billboard Books, 1999) and The Small Axe Guide To Rocksteady (Muzik Tree, 2009) Chuck Foster has returned to his roots producing an all female vocal and dub collection out now on the Catch Me Time Records label.
The cd is presented "showcase" style, with each song followed by a corresponding dub. Recorded in various studios utilizing the talents of different singers and players, the styles range from rock steady and roots to cutting-edge contemporary.

March 8, 2012

The mysterious Jah Bizzare

In September 1982, an envelope arrived at KCRW's Reggae Beat program, containing the images you see below. The artist was an extravagantly talented Englishman who called himself Jah Bizzare, who was living in Costa Mesa, CA and evidently listened to Roger and Hank's radio broadcasts. Mr. Bizzare became a contributor to the early Beats, creating the Ducky Dred comic strip, and also illustrating the first two color covers: the Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Reggae Radio issues. I wonder what ever became of him.....

February 4, 2012

Zine Archive: The Beat // July 1983 « Shimmy Shimmy

What a lovely treat to discover this on a blog from UK! Give thanks guys!

Zine Archive: The Beat // July 1983 « Shimmy Shimmy

Before The Beat magazine turned into a fully-fledged, full colour glossy magazine, it was a proper black-and-white one page one dollar newsletter. It was started in 1982, by C.C. Smith and Roger Steffens – who is the world’s foremost authority on Bob Marley (and has the most amazing memorabilia collection, including an amazing Bob bead curtain). It was the only reggae/african/world music dedicated magazine in the US, and sadly shut its press last year.

I have this copy of July/August 1983 issue, which features an interview with Lee Scratch Perry, talking his usual nonsense:

My name is King David, I love to fling stone. Right? My papa is King Solomon Emperor Haile Selassie I the black gorilla king, Super Ape right? He can change into a lion, a monkey, a leopard, any thing. He has the power to do anything, right? He is the capricorn right? He is the sagittarius right? He’s the every-fucking thing (p17, interview with Doug Wendt)

Aside from the Scratch feature, there are some amazing adverts for different reggae shops, mostly in California, complete playlists from Steffens’ Reggae Beat International radio show, on KCRW, columns like ‘Collector’s Corner’, ‘Reggae Ramblins’, an interesting piece addressing whether ‘reggae really wants commercial success’ and the chronic mishandling of reggae as a business, a comic strip based on a rasta called Ducky Dred, a feature on Chicago reggae bands, and this reggae game, for the hardened reggae stoner: Roll up 3 spliffs and start here!

My favourite outtakes from the issue:

December 20, 2011

Roger Steffens' World of Reggae exhibit at the Queen Mary, Long Beach CA 2001

I just came across these photos from Roger's triumphant exhibition of his Reggae Archives. He may still have the gorgeous catalog available: it was selling for $25 a few years ago, but may be a collectors' item by now. Contact Ras Rojah at rasrojah@aol.com.

This display shows many of The Beat's Marley issue covers along with other magazines featuring Bob collected by Roger over the years.