PM Youth Awardee on a mission for cultural retention

February 06, 2023
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) presents the Youth Award for music to Mariki Whyte.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) presents the Youth Award for music to Mariki Whyte.

The 2022 recipient of the Prime Minister's Youth Award in the category of music, Makiri Whyte, says that while cultural renewal is necessary, cultural retention is far more important.

Speaking with THE STAR following the awards show last Saturday at Jamaica House, Whyte said "Cultural retention of our 'Jamaicaness' is best in whatever we do and say and play."

"This is so especially in music and it is important to me because we have seen all over the world where our Jamaican culture is being dominant and is being used and is being monetised by plenty people who are not Jamaican. They have branded our slangs and sayings and turned them into all sorts of things, from names of concerts, brands, copyright them and make the money," he shared.

The impassioned drummer, producer and musical director says his travels have shown him that foreigners who are fans of our musical product have not yet caught up to the sounds and songs of this decade, and are still very much enthralled by the past.

"I go all over the world and see it, Guam, Costa Rica, Hawaii, all over, and see where the '90s and '80s dancehall and the early 2000s with that last part of Mavado and [Vybz] Kartel, those are the songs that are playing. So what is going on now, the world is not gravitating towards it. So it is important that we retain our culture and understand the impact that it has had on the world. So that's wah me deh pon, fi retain a lot of what we have through my music and work. So renew it yes cause times are moving but we must retain certain things and standards," he reasoned.

Whyte, who is also a mentor in his community of Fletcher's Land, Kingston, first developed a love for music in church and since then has honed the talent to make it his life and career. He said he was delighted to be an award recipient and understands that with great honour comes great responsibility. Whyte, who is a justice of the peace, reasoned that more persons would know he was a talented musician.

"And the more people know the more people gonna call you. At one point I even got anxiety thinking how I am going to deal with [that]. But God is in control and He created this so whatever He is doing, I will do it well. Whatever I do, I will stay grounded and focused," he shared.

Musician, producer, and singer Joshua 'Tessellated' Meeks also received a PM Youth Award for music.

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