Representations in the Harder they come.


“Select 2 songs which appealed to you from the movie and discuss their symbolic interpretations.”


Jamaican reggae is music of protest that carries an angry message of poverty (Davila, n.d.).Untitled3 Music is used by the powerless to counter the oppression of the powerful and send a message draped in melody that “You can get it if you really want.”


The harder they come by Perry Henzell, is a symbolic film which speaks to the heart and soul of its viewers, using music as a catalyst to evoke emotions. Adding to the images on screen, scores in the movie helped to create a sense of reality. When times got hard, and Ivan felt desperate, one could hear the sounds of “Many rivers to cross” playing in the background, making the scene more intense. In a review of the movie, Julianne Burton detailed that music conspired with the visual image to draw the viewer deeper into the emotional experience of the film (Burton, 1975.)

The two songs from the movie that appealed to me are; “The Harder They Come” and “You can get it if you really want.” Both written and perform by Jimmy Cliff who plays Ivan in the movie. I chose these songs because as Ivan’s character changed, so did the meanings of these songs, the lyrics of which are well incorporated into the film.

In the opening scenes, “you can get it if you really want” symbolized hope and highlighted how gullible and innocent Ivan was. Untitled1The song played as he hopped off a bus in the big city, with nothing but dreams of making it big. The song comes on again, but by this time Ivan has changed dramatically, caving under the hegemonic pressures he “makes it” but by no means did he trod the straight and narrow. Gallivanting in a car he hijacked, the song now symbolizes determination and achieving goals regardless of the outcomes.

“The Harder They come” portrayed several symbolic meanings throughout the film, the lyrics written in such a way, it followed the journey of the main character. The song made symbolic references, to religion, social indifference and a fight against oppression and media hegemony.


Burton, J. (1975). The Harder They Come Cultural colonialism and the American dream. Retrieved February 4, 201, from:  /JC06folder/HarderTheyCome.html

Davila, M. (n.d.) Oppression and Resistance in Jamaican Reggae and Afro-Brazilian Music A Comparative Study of Race  in Music and Culture. Retrieved on February 4, 2015, from:



2014 and beyond – My top three Reggae acts.

use1Being born in Jamaica it is almost impossible to have never heard the word reggae, or done a few “skanks” of your own to a smooth reggae beat. I am a fan of most genres of music but why reggae stands out to me is the medium it provided for Jamaicans to be heard during our time of oppression.

Reggae Fact: Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s.

Here now are my three favorite artistes whom I feel will continue to build this rhythmic, illustrative and message filled genre. Enjoy!

  1. Damian Jr. Gong Marley

Damian_MarleyI was not yet born when Bob Marley and his famous band walked the streets of Kingston, but his son Damian has taken up the torch from where his father left it and ran steadfast into the 21st century. His sly use of lyrics and the ability to tell a story in his music are just a few reasons why Jr. Gong made first on my list. He has taken reggae music world wide without diluting its content, that in my book is a plus x 3!

With hits like Still Searching, Welcome to JamRock and Recently Affairs of the Heart I see this young Marley making daddy proud.

Reggae Fact: There are over 200 Reggae Festivals worldwide each year.

  1. Protoje

protojeB20110301GTCrash landing on the scene in 2010 with his smash hit JA, reggae new comer Protoje finds himself in the number two spot. This young artiste of musical background embeds himself deep into the culture of reggae music. What he brings to the table is an arsenal of lyrics able to riddle the brain with thoughts of self-worth and understanding ones roots.  One of the most memorable Protoje tracks and a personal favorite is Rasta Love featuring Kymani Marley. Here is a snippet of his verse:

And she wants to be free

From all this captivity

So she’ll be who she will be

They cyan tell her who she need

They cyan tell her who she want

Who she cant, she’s have her owna chant

Chart har owna plot

And colour har owna art

Call mi over her own apartment

Know as I answer da phone that’s the tone she start with

She know seh she know doh fi par with

One like I, even though so much him part it

But she haffi do har owna thing

Cah she cyan never live life a dem

Knowing dat she will look back when

To the time when she couldn’t explain to him cause den [Protoje]

Reggae Facts: There are over 15 Music forms that have been derived from reggae. 

  1. Chronixx

Chronixx-photoWithout second thought he is definitely the youngest member of this list, taking hold of the number 3 spot is Chronixx. He is only 21 years old but I’m sure if you know Jamaica you have heard his name recently.  He is the perfect example of why age is just a number if you do what you love and do it from the heart.  In what is still a young career Chronixx has won over the hearts of many reggae fanatics with his piercing melodies and songs of hope.  His youthful image and character makes him an ideal soldier to march on, beating the conga and spreading the healing powers of reggae.

Reggae Fact: If Bob Marley was still alive he would be worth $130 Million.

There you have it, my 3 faves’ destined to make a difference and make Reggae a world renowned genre!

I hope you learned a thing or two about Jamaica and its music now go and show these artistes some love… of course they are on YouTube 😀