If you find yourself in the middle of a roots reggae versus dancehall debate-- as has been the case in Jamaica off and on since the latter first emerged some 30 to 40 years ago-- you might consider using Protoje to appeal to both sides. The Jamaica native may identify himself as part of the current “Reggae Revival” movement that also counts Chronixx as a key player, but due to his beginnings as a rapper and the more modern flair of many of his tracks, Protoje is a safe bet to appease fans of more upbeat, contemporary Jamaican styles.
While his delivery is more rhythmic and his band, The Indiggnation, is capable of playing many styles, Protoje’s music still retains what is arguably the most important aspect of roots music, albeit not really being a musical attribute. The themes of social justice and protest are inescapable, even more so than in most politically charged roots reggae, in Protoje’s discography.
In the past, his messages have ranged from an indictment of the 2010 military occupation of Kingston to praise for Miss Jamaica World 1991, and today, the subject in question is corruption. “BLXXD MONEY” is a track that Protoje originally shared earlier this year, but with a video arriving today, its point is hammered home more clearly than ever.
The concept of “blood money” is a well-known one, but Protoje and video director Che Kothari’s investigation of the subject goes far beneath the surface level and into the confusing, strange relationship that it creates between the rich and the poor, particularly in Jamaica. In this dark video, we follow the titular money as it passes between the hands of many disparate denizens of the same town, all while Protoje narrates over a swirling soundscape of synths and acoustic guitar. The song in and of itself is an enjoyable marriage of dub effects, roots instruments, and intricate vocal flows, but the video adds yet another layer of intrigue.