Reggae singer Emmanuel Anebsa is not afraid to make political statements with his music. That is why his latest work, an acoustic re-issue of his critically acclaimed Check Their Credentials album may rub some people the wrong way. The album was released in January 2020 on the Wont Stop Records label.
He believes that reggae music finds itself in a familiar situation – where black resources are under the control of white outsiders, a species of ‘blaxploitation’.
“The songs are a deep realisation that reggae is under the slave masters’ control,” the artiste said.
“They use money to control us. We have to take control of our own music. I spoke a black/brown truth to the operator of a major European white-owned reggae platform, an observation that the white European artistes are singing culture while practising oppression. How are you going to make a white man sing about black woman to us? The white artistes want to be us, but they don’t want to feel our pain so how is that authentic? I spoke my truth innocently and with love and they banned my music from their platform.”
The experience encouraged him to write songs detailing the evolving situation of white control of the economic structure of reggae music in Europe and Jamaica.
“The ancestors speak to me and say change the narrative. I live in the UK and we have no platform to expose our music to the world as a black English youth. As people of colour, we need to change the narrative, why didn’t Shaggy and Beenie Man and Tarrus Riley come together and buy the rights for Sumfest or Sunsplash? Ask yourself, why Jamaican artistes are now travelling to Europe to play with all-white reggae bands. The whites are undermining our music from within,” he said.
“I do reggae music because it comes from the bloodline of his ancestors. I have not come to be famous, you cannot be famous and talk about the true message of freedom as the message of freedom will offend. Once you accept their money as a sponsor or advertiser, they control you,” Anebsa, whose real name is Negus Emmanuel Anebsa, said.
He is promoting the lead single, Check Their Credentials which questions the authenticity of white artists from Europe who are at the forefront of the industry singing reggae music. The single features hard-hitting lines like ‘never beg a white bwoy fi a spliff’ and ‘Mussolini couldn’t ever sing like me/dem can’t feel like my pain/no white bwoy coulda ever sing like me/no one checks their credentials/they mashing up our music’.
Anebsa’s jibes are not too subtle jibes directed at the artists Gentleman and Alborosie, but he cares zero about any possible backlash.
“I am speaking my truth,” he said.
Some of the other tracks include Mash Up Reggae Music Again and They Just Pretend.
Anebsa is a savvy businessman who launched Wontstop Records in his hometown, Bristol in 1998. He has released 39 albums including the popular St Paul’s Ghetto.
“Reggae foundation artistes set Jamaica on map from the 1960s with ska, rocksteady to reggae…it is a big massive platform. But black artistes still don’t control their destiny. My point is we are not free, all of us are looking for the Billboard chart which is controlled by white supremacy. Why don’t we make our own charts? Build our own structures? Own our own festivals. Our black nation needs to wake up or one day, we will get up and realize that we don’t even control reggae anymore,” he said.