Reggae artist Ras Midas became a virtual legend in France with his razor-edged brand of Third World music. But when Midas moved to America, he found politics and African rhythms just didn't get a lot of radio airplay.
"America is a different country," he said. "It's a very prosperous country, and the people here want to have a good time, keep the family together and focus on the bright side of life."Which translated means if Midas wanted to hit the big time in the Land of Promise, he had to come up with a happier, more accessible style of music. The style he came up with he has labeled "reggae fusion," an up-tempo blend of rock, jazz, rhythm and blues, and African and Caribbean sounds.
It's also more dance oriented than traditional reggae. "It revolutionizes music," he says confidently. "It makes reggae more appealing to mainstream America."
That doesn't mean he has cut out politics altogether from his music. But he admits he's now more inclined just to let people have a good time as he tries to create a new market for mainstream, middle-class, young, white Americans.
Midas and his band, The Bridge, will be in concert May 5 at 7 p.m. at the new 1,500 seat Murray Park Amphitheater. Opening will be Irie Heights and the Riddimights.
The Jamaican-born Midas adds that it is not enough to walk on stage with dreadlocks and mumble your way through politically charged diatribes.
"Reggae needs some good performers," he said, "and it needs good music. Some of it is really garbage. You must write in good English and sing it so people can understand you."
His music is more about communicating and understanding. "It would be limiting me to sing politically. America is a country that is prosperous. People don't want to be reminded of the sorrows of yesterday," he said.
And when in America you have to give Americans what they want. It is, purely and simply, a marketing decision to reach more people. "If you are living in the Western world and want to be successful, you have to bridge the gap."