Kassav is the French Creole word for cassava. The band chose that name to signify nutritious local food which, like music, nurtures body and spirit. And they sing in Creole to affirm the value of the language. It's a political issue - reclaiming the power of our shared African heritage.
We don't seem to realise just how far Jamaican popular music has spread. We take our creativity for granted and we rarely stop to think about why so many people from such diverse cultures are attracted to the music produced on this little rock. And it's not just the beat and the lyrics that fascinate foreigners. It's also the academic value of the music.
The twelfth staging of the Calabash International Literary Festival, a month ago, was dubbed 'globalicious' by Kwame Dawes, the programmer for the event. And it certainly was both global and delicious. The calabash was full to the brim and running over with both literary and musical delicacies
Born to a Swiss mother and a Guadeloupian father who is a Rastaman, Cali P knew where to turn to escape the alienation he felt in the land of his birth
So who’s in charge of the rompin’ shop? In the case of Shabba Ranks and Lady Saw it’s a clear draw. And, not so surprisingly, even the frontrunners of the reggae revival are singing rompin’ shop songs . . . . Unlike Lady Saw who performs slackness, Jah9 performs innocence.
I’m proposing that we celebrate the birthday of Dennis Brown and Bob Marley in February and that’s that. If we want a ‘Reggae Month’, let’s find a less hectic season. Cynics are already saying that ‘Reggae Month’ was intended to upstage ‘Black History Month’. You know how ambivalent we are about blackness in this country. Be that as it may, there are eleven other months from which to choose.
"Four hundred years an de same bucky maasa bizniz. An black inferiority, an brown superiority rule dis lickle black country here fe a long [t]imes. Well I an I come wid Earthquake, Lightnin an Tunda to break down dese barriers of oppression an drive away transgression and rule equality between humble black people."
Who would have thought that out of Kingston’s concrete jungle would have come a ‘riddim’ of resistance that now reverberates across the world? Reggae music and its wild child, dancehall, symbolize the unlimited potential of the creative industries that enable hard-working, talented people to make ‘nuff’ money out of brainpower.
It was my high school English teacher, Miss Julie Thorne, who, for me, first interrogated the racial politics of the supposedly unifying motto. She had come from the United Kingdom to teach on an international development program much like the Peace Corps. As an outsider, she could immediately detect the fraudulence of the homogenizing racial myth. She asked us students a rather cynical question. “Out of many, one people? Which one?” Jamaican society in the 1960’s was highly stratified. The brown and white elite were the ‘one’ who ruled the ‘many’.