Friday, November 26, 2010

Call of the Rastafari

Mommy! mommy! mommy! I want to be a rastafari when I grow up!

I have a friend who keeps a blog subtitled "On the Road to Zion" which I hadn't visited in a while until a few minutes ago. She finally made her move into the style and fashion world, way to go Xiona, I'm rooting for you all the way.

I've been listening to Damian Marley these past few months and I can't believe I had never explored his music. First off, I'm a reggae fan, its always been uplifting music for me, I mean, who doesn't listen to Bob Marley's Three Little Birds and feel, you know irie?

Isaac, my philosopher and rastafari friend, had mentioned that most people have never explored the Marley kids' music and that he thought they were that much better than daddy, so I made a mental note to explore. I came across the Bruno Mars song with Damian Marley and the intro was enough to make me want to hear more and also finally try to learn this patois stuff.

Patois, according to Wikipedia, is any language that is considered nonstandard, although the term is not formally defined in linguistics, which is basically saying "it's some shit we don't quite understand". It sounds funky though, I mean, have you heard a guy speaking this stuff? It has a harmony to it that makes you want to sway, raise your hands to the sky and say hell yeah!

Anyway, I went and got Damien's albums by way of bittorrent, sorry Damian, and proceeded to sample dem tracks.

Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley was born July 21 1978. He was two years old when his father Bob Marley died and he is the only child born to Marley and Cindy Breakspeare, Miss World 1976. Damian's nickname Junior Gong is derived from his father's nickname of Tuff Gong. Marley has been performing since the age of 13. He shares, along with most of his family, a full-time career in music.

His first album was 'Mr Marley' which is rightly titled as it features many tracks from his dad's recordings and was released in 1996. I was then religiously losing mi religion. It leans more towards the traditional reggae style his father and others after popularised and was not a critical or commercial success. I particularly like 'Kingston 12', 'Me Name Jr Gong' and 'One cup of coffee' which has the following lines

'I brought the money like your lawyer said to do
Ain't nothing funny, babe I am still in love with you
Said I am leaving you tomorrow
I'll cause you no more sorrow
One cup of coffee then I'll go

Lord I say Susie Susie Susie mind you loose mi
Know mi love you bad yet you want to abuse mi
Try to treat you right but this affair confuse mi
Girl don't complain cause a you come fi choose mi
Mi sey Susie do, mind you loose mi
Though me love you bad and you want to abuse mi
Try treat you right but this a pure confuse mi
Gal no complain cause a you come fi loose mi

Damian's next album was Halfway Tree which combines dancehall and hiphop styles to produce an amazing modern sound. The production (not that I know much about such stuff), done by his bro Stephen Marley,  is amazing. The drums and hooks on this thing are off the shizzy, seriously! but the oustanding aspect is the lyrics and Damian's delivery. Its like listening to a prophet in biblical times.

'Di youths dem saying justice ah weh dem really need overall
Di way dem deal wid mankind.... All mi gyal start ball
Justice ah weh di youths dem need overall
Di way dem deal wid mankind

She nah go cry fi no guy inna nah 3 piece suit
Nor no pretty bwoy inna nuh crisp Nike boot
She nuh ball fi nah dapper
She nuh cry fi nah doop
She shed those lonely tears
For di little ghetto youths weh balling

Stary stary X-News and Gleaner
Foot might be dirty but his heart is much cleaner
And those politicians fightin down sensimillia
Get up every day dem want fi run this arena

Extra, extra.... read all about it
Ghetto youths in need and there is no doubt about it
If baby want feed and can't do without it
Big 45 goin to scout it

My best song on this album is 'Catch a Fire'. It's got an amazing array of drums, vocals are superb and the lyrics, wooo hooo! Its an angry oppressed youth anthem, albeit with some misplaced ideas but breathtaking nonetheless. It makes me jump up and shout and shout and shout!

'We nuh want no Babylon government
Weh ah burn down ganja man tent
And den ah come wid dem one bag ah tax argument
When we can't pay light bill and rent
Mi sight dem ah lead ghetto youths
Every which part dem went
And ah pure wrong corner dem bent
So next time, dem pass thru you and your crew
Don't give dem no encouragement

Now, there's this song titled 'Give Dem Some Way' that has the longest nonstop spit and fire verse of lyrics I've ever heard. Its downright genius! Its damn amazing, long and delivered in one burst of rhyme and flow that makes you wonder how good the guy's lungs are! It's got a ballistic beat and a nice flute to spice up the melody, you just have to sample it to know what I'm talking  about. Here's the bit that kills me, after spitting all those words of revolution and power to the people, he goes "...Weh nuh rise till the revolution unfold" He he he..bide your time niggas, bide your time.

'You say that you love me, oh what happened to the love?' goes the hook up with Eve. Eve is the shit, the real deal when it comes to the female rap genre and I'm a lifelong fan. Except for catch a fire, this is the best collabo on the album. It brings out the blend of hip hop and dancehall in a most engaging manner.I mean, you feel powerless but to answer the girl's question and tell her, 'what happened to the love'. But wait, here's a sampling of Damian's lyrics

'What about di youths dem
Weh love fi breed off the girls
And still nah care for da youth dem
Wahapn to the boots dem
And hear wah mek go worse
Nuff a dem did have and nah use dem
Fire fi di bait who love using the girls
So friend can congratulate dem
Rasta nah rate dem
When dem abusing di girls
Gun shot for bwoy weh ah rape dem

The album is overall a portrait of Damian's different worlds, his mother's more affluent uptown world and his father's roots in the ghettos of Kingston. Damian like all the Marley kids grew up as much in Rita Marley's household as in his mothers, infact Rita's household is considered the family HQ for all the Marleys. Bob had 8 kids outside his marriage to Rita (stray stray guy).

Welcome to Jamrock is Damian's most popular and successful album to date. Again, co-produced with his brother Stephen, it is his true coming of age as a musician. The combination of dancehall and hip hop started on Halfway Tree, like a good wine,  truly matures to produce such gems as 'Beautiful' ft Bobby Brown.

 This album is a masterpiece! Period. Hands down, pack your bags and go home.

'Cause them lost inna darkness beyond
And none shall escape except the ones, who
Exodus with no question,
Better put on your khaki uniform
If you-a' driver, leave unnu engine on
If you-a' rider jump pon a unicorn
Lace your shoes if you a pedestrian
Run for the border like a Mexican
Underarm smell green like a Leprechaun
Survival of Jah people

'For the babies' is a song about, well, babies. Born and unborn. I have a personal experience with abortion and I have to say this song makes me feel very guilty.

'And always do your very best to keep a promise to your babies
And if you can't be good, at least be honest to your babies

 When I started taking the herb a couple of years ago, we called it 'going to Zion'. See, Zion is the last place where all of humanity's children will gather to celebrate life, like Tank says in the Matrix, 'If this war ended tomorrow, Zion is where the party would be.' Again, according to Wikipedia (thank you Jimmy Wales!),

'In the Rastafari movement, "Zion" stands for a Utopian place of unity, peace and freedom, as opposed to "Babylon", the oppressing and exploiting system of the western world and a place of evil.'

Personally, Zion is akin to Valhalla, the corner office, that place that people refer to when they say we've made IT, the forests of my homeland, etc. So, you can imagine my joy at finding this song (On the road to Zion) and finally, partly, understanding why Xiona's blog is subtitled thus. It has been my anthem for a while, hopefully Xiona doesn't mind me borrowing it, and it showcases  the best of two worlds in Damian and Nas. It is probably the collabo that set the stage for this year's amazing, fantastic, beautiful, breathtaking, "Distant Relatives", Damian's work with the legendary Nas. I must confess that I had never really listened to Nas but after sampling this album. I have to bow down and chant RESPECT!

Sometimes you can lose sight of the things that matter in your world, lose focus and wander around aimless, sad, salty and bitter. This song has been a siren of hope, a call to which I was irresistbly drawn until I saw the light and heard the man say, 'We sparkin' the ions, marching to Zion / You know how Nas be NYC state of mind I'm in.' But again, listen to Damian go on this run

'In this world of calamity
Dirty looks and grudges and jealousy
And police weh abuse dem authority
Media clowns weh nuh know 'bout variety

The youngest veteran a go murder dem slow
Ragga muffin sent to call me from the bush bungalow
Unnu watch mek I clear out my voice now Figaro!
Emerge from the darkness with mi big blunt a glow
Mi hammer dem a slam and spectator get low
Some bwoy coulda big like Bam Bam Biggalow
Bust of trigger finger, trigger hand and trigger toe
A two gun mi have mi bust dem inna stereo

I got to keep on walking on the road to Zion, man
We gots to keeps it burning on the road to Zion, man

So, I'll see you in Zion and then I'll tell you about Distant Relatives.

Oh, and the best song on this album is 'We're gonna make it'.

"Yeah! Yes mi lion!
Always look on the brighter side of life, you know
Nuh must!

Don't you ever give up
Don't you ever give in
Don't you ever give up
Don't you ever give in
Don't you ever give up
Don't you ever give in
We will have our way some day
Don't you ever 'dutty'
Cause a better you clean
Hail up King Selassie plus
Omega the queen
Don't you ever give up
Don't you ever give in
Cause I...

I know we're gonna make it
It's not too late, No!
We're gonna make it
Yes I know
We're gonna make it
It's not too late
We're gonna make it,Yeah


Jq said...

Lol!!! This is too much of a coincidence!! there's a reggaefest tonight in munyonyo...(thats y i stole yr status) Its gonna be irie!!

Xiona said...

just seen this!!! THANX for the ...u know, pat on the back. oh n am glad u finally got it! now u can begin to re-evaluate how far up the road u've gone so far!