Gallery

Sting 2012 Review

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Well crowd a people another year another Sting and evidently the talk around town revolts around only a few acts. From what all the patrons and reporters are saying Dancehall/Reggae veteran Sizzla Kalonji gave an absolutely smashing performance capturing fans and critics alike. The annually event hosted an amazing array of Rastafari and Reggae music … Continue reading

Gallery

Why Rastafari Music Should Depart from Religion

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Rastafari alongside Reggae/Dancehall has cracked open every crevasse and corner of the global sphere and is continuing to do so through relentless efforts to push the music farther. But something that has caught my ears in recents years in the near synchronization of Reggae music and Christian radicalism. Rastafari was found through the understanding of Haile Selassie through which … Continue reading

Early Rastafari, Reggae Music and the Jamaican People

Derrick “Duckie” Simpson, Puma Jones, Michael Rose were key members in the Reggae band Black Uhuru who were among the best of their day. The band was formed in 1972.

From the very start of it all; the beating drums and pulsating bass, reggae music has always revolved around the ideals and image of Rastafari. The very manifestation of the art form owes tremendous dues to the Rastas of Kingston in the 1950’s and 60’s.

The themes of historical, cultural and collective identity which Rastafari was preaching from the get go shined with astonishing light of the genre which was deemed as “inartistic” by the plantation mind frame of the Jamaican elite had found home in the hearts of the “ghetto people” of Kingston’s shanty towns.

Bob marley dem

Rastaman

Upon its arrival the message was clear and the imagery was vivid. The idea was the norms, customs and ideas which were taught to the ancestors of the Africans masses specifically designed to keep them down should be eradicated from the minds of there descendents.

These ideas were still being used by the ruling class of Jamaican to control and manipulate the people who saw themselves as worthless and unwanted, just as how they thought their parents and grandparents were unwanted and useless; these kind of thinking which many fail to acknowledge are very pervasive in Jamaica, even today and the Ras dem don’t support such thinking in any way shape or form.

They would soon began a campaign to reform the psyche of Jamaica’s poor and disenfranchised island wide. This came at a pivotal time in Jamaica where understanding of identity was beginning to be even more crucial thanks to “independence” from the British Empire. However these events in the “slums” did not sit well with the government and two important events took place as a result:

One of Walter Rodney most famous writings.

  • The Coral Gardens Massacre where Jamaican armed forces killed numerous Rastafarians island wide and lead to many Rasta putting themselves into exile in their own country. Ducking and hiding in gullies out of fear of everyday Jamaicans, who would gang and beat them and use broken bottles to “trim” their DREAD-locks. (It wasn’t easy for the dread or “beardman” back in the day)
  • The Rodney Riots – this was caused by the exile of Guyanese scholar Walter Rodney who was cited by the government as preaching black power and was a treat to the Jamaican society. The University students didn’t take this decision well at all.

These collective frustrations at the system helped to strengthen understanding between the Rasta and the average Jamaican man, reggae music served as the final factor in what would become a union between the Jamaican and the Rastaman/rastawoman.

The mutual understanding formed would result in arguably the best musical period in Jamaica’s history i.e 1960’s the to mid 1980’s. The music was so vibrant, diverse and original, from the Upsetters to the Weeping Wailers everyone played their part and the people of Jamaican began to see through the beat of Rastafari inspired Reggae.

Look at me, I ain’t your enemy

We walk on common ground

We don’t need to fight each other

What we need, what we need

For more on Rasta read Rastafari Misunderstood and Sitting and watching.

Robert Mugabe remarks send waves.

Robert Mugabe

In recent days Jamaica has been a buzz with the news that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe allegedly accused Jamaican men of being drunk and marijuana smokers claiming that the females were taking over since the men only wanted to make music.

THERE was a time when Europeans in the rebel state of Rhodesia dubbed Robert Mugabe and his freedom fighters ‘Bob Mugabe and the Wailers’. It was an indirect tribute to Bob Marley and his band who inspired Mugabe and his men during their

fight for independence against the racist regime of Ian Smith.

Marley performed in Zimbabwe in April, 1980 to mark the end of white rule, while Robert Mugabe was sworn in as the new nation’s first president. Marley and reggae remain massively popular in the country, but Mugabe has not endeared himself to many Jamaicans through statements he reportedly made last week.

According to Zimbabwean media, Mugabe told a gathering of dignitaries in the Zimbabwe capital Harare that Jamaica was “a country of marijuana smokers, where women are now taking charge since men are always sloshed”. He expressed his fear that Zimbabwe would follow suit given the influence Jamaican pop culture

has on youth in the southern African country.

In the last five years, several reggae/dancehall artistes have performed to receptive crowds throughout Zimbabwe. They include Luciano, Mikey General, Fantan Mojah, Cocoa Tea and Sizzla.

Mikey General performed with Luciano in Harare in 2008. He said he is shocked at Mugabe’s statement given the warm reception they received.

“The people in Zimbabwe have a great respect for Jamaicans, Bob Marley’s song Zimbabwe is like a national anthem there,” Mikey General told the Jamaica Observer. “What he said really shook

me up.”

Mikey General says he and Luciano were guests of the government when they visited four years ago. They never met Mugabe but were hosted at a reception by vice-president Joice Mujuru.

“We got royal treatment… From I’ve been touring, it’s the best I’ve been treated,” he said.

Mugabe did meet Sizzla when the singer performed in Zimbabwe in early 2010. In fact, Sizzla was among the performers for celebrations marking the president’s 86th birthday in February that year.

Sizzla also helped establish the Munuhpatuh recording studio in Harare while

he was there.

Marley dedicated his 1979 album, Survival, to militants in Africa who were fighting to rid their countries of European colonialism. Zimbabwe was one of the popular songs from the set which jacket was adorned with flags of various African nations.

Robert Mugabe has overcome several challenges to his rule in the last 15 years. During his visit to

Jamaica in 1996, he was awarded the Order of Jamaica by the government.

While the comment may demonstrate the attitude regarding Jamaicans internationally as pot heads who sing Reggae music all day. The comments came as a surprise especially since Jamaican artist have always supported Mugabe especially when he was fighting to evict racist pirates from his country as well as play a significant role in the end of Apartheid in South Africa.

Artist of the Week: Garnett Silk

Garnett Silk

Garnett Silk (born Garnet Damion Smith), April 2, 1966 was without question one of the greatest voices of Reggae at the end of the 1980’s. Garnett Silk had brought with him the rebellious sound with him from his home parish of Manchester in Jamaica and brought it to the forefront of the 1990s Reggae/Dancehall scene.

He had always known his path would be paved by the rhythm of the music and the bandwidth of radio as Little Bimbo( completely different from what you are thinking) as he was affectionately called when he began his music career at 12 years old. As Silk matured into adulthood his craft grew ever more professional, the lyrical themes and production became more immersive and it had become clear to the masses that he was it, the next big ting from Jamrock.

It’s Growing (1992)

Its Growing was release in 1992 amidst huge critical praise with AllMusic awarded the album 4.4 stars out of 5. The piece was a triumph. More important than the critics opinions was the fact that Silk stayed true to his belief in Rasta which guided him musical and directed his themes and lyrical delivery. Check out the review here, http://www.allmusic.com/album/its-growing-mw0000113108

Songs from the album include:

The artist career had seemed destined for the stratosphere when he sign a distribution with international label Atlantic and had began working on tracks with legendary producers  Steely & Clevie, Sly & Robbie among others. However his faith would take a heartbreaking turn for the worst when he went on a routine trip to visit his mother in the country. While he and his friends were reasoning one allegedly offered to demonstrate his skills and the firearm went off hitting a gas tank in the home. Silk, his brother and friends made it out unharmed, but they soon realized his mother was still inside the inferno Silk dashed back in to save her and the burning flames engulfed the house with them; killing both December 9, 1994; he was just 28 years old.

It is a truly sad end for a man who may have been the new ambassador for Reggae music. Regardless like Marley his music still lives on in dance hall sessions and parties in Jamaica, however he didn’t gain much popularity internationally and hence is largely unknown on the global scene.