Dancehall Feed

Thursday, June 02, 2016


Join the Western Jamaican Consciousness Music Revival... ‪#‎Antwain‬ young upcoming Artiste captures the ear with his new song and wonderfully shot video!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

An Open Letter to Bounty Killer

Greetings to Jamaica and the Five Star General Rodney Basil Pryce in particular,

 I remember somewhere back in 1993, I had held this notion that Reggae was the God and Dancehall was the bastard demi-god who had inane chatter gibberish and nonsensical if not simply whimsical lyrics and rhyme schemes like "zungy zungy a zunga zeng"! ABC 123... nothing too intellectually challenging or vocabulary expanding... zeen come again, wah di clock inna London name big ben, missa chin money name yen! Shabba and Super Cat weren't so bad but Dancehall as genre lacked definition and umph! Then comes PEEEEEEEEEEEOPLE DEAD! A man who would become the archetype of what a DJ and social commentator in the Dancehall should be.

I remember in 9th grade at the esteemed Cornwall College in 9-1 to be "pre-xact" every session a teacher missed was an opportunity for aspiring musicians. Long before the age of rising star, the class would be a riot of drummers banging desks and chairs as we cued up the main acts, those days the class was divided in two, the school of Beenie-ites, and the House of Bounty. The best representatives from the competing sides the likes of class mates named Clive Lawrence, Romaine McIntosh, Winston Brown... they would represent the factions and vocalize the discographies of Bounty which would be pitted against the catalogue of Beenie ballads. I happened to be in the Bounty camp.

Why some may ask? At the time I was a comic book junkie, whose favourite hero was Spider-man, but in terms of social development and coping with the teen world, and the Jamaican social context... well "with great power comes great responsibility" as a mantra wasn't cutting it all the way. And Spider-man a teen with superpowers and a horrendous social life and the guy that everybody hated wasn't gonna save my psyche through to 10 grade. So when you need a local Superhero, and a most verbose character, fearless, Jamaican, garbed in all black like Blade, Punisher or the Black Panther... A man the people dubbed "the poor people's governor" "the ghetto gladiator"... Titles not unlike "The Uncanny X-men" or "The Spectacular Spiderman." Bounty Killer became to me the very first Jamaican Super Hero, equipped with grand titles, monikers and mantras, secret identity Rodney Pryce, with his Justice League or Avengers, known as The Alliance. "Yeah Yeah Yeah" "Huh!" Bounty was the Jamaican icon from he became one of the local champions of that Patrick Ewing 33 sneaker, Jamaicans at home supporting Jamaicans abroad!

It is no coincidence then that his 1996 album My Xperience impacted fans at home and abroad spending six months on the Billboard reggae chart. Personally that was my favourite album, and I didn't even realize it till one day when a friend of mine Gavin Carey called me at home... yeah back in the land line era... and when he called he said... "my yute a one cd you have, and a one song deh pon di cd, caah everyday mi call you, all mi here is 'dem get gun dung inna miggle of guntown, well mi silent gun will emit no soun'" I then realized I had to rotate my musical diet... not that it wasn't varied... I grew up on Bob Dylan, Melanie Safka, Sam Cooke, Beres Hammond, Simon and Garfunkel... in he 90's I met Alanis Morrisette, Sarah Mclachan, Goo Goo Dolls, Alternative Music from D. Shadow and Rick Dee's Top 40, interspersed with Jungle, Techno World Beat... so my diet wasn't bad but in Jamaica Bounty was my boss. At the same time he also expanded my musical ear... The My Xperience album would introduce me to The Fugees, Busta Rhymes, Wu-Tang and many others... subsequent albums in the 90's would introduce me early to Kardinal Official on "The Bacardi Slang."

Bounty's career too has been as layered and textured and storied just like a comic book series, with arch-nemesis manifesting in Beenie Man and eventually Vybz Kartel, clashes as epic as any Ridley Scott film, feat and accomplishment that echo on in the perpetual street dancehall discourse. I can only imagine the day when teens and adults read a Bounty Killer comic book or graphic novel. Maybe when Ziggy Marley gets time away from Marijuana Man he can bust me on the job fi draw and write a Bounty Killer Comic. Once somewhere in 2005 I had wanted to write a Bounty Killer Biography titled: Badman Bible! Even when close friends debated that Bounty's Tale is not best seller material, I have absolute faith to this day that it would be a mega success, accompanied by like a documentary... the legend of Bounty would be immortalized.

Anyway... this ratings of mine for Bounty Killer progressed as I entered into academia, when while I was in KGN, Bounty was in my backyard in Mobay donating computers to Albion All Age, giving public lectures at Mobay's Civic Centre and generally impacting the youth of Jamaica in a major way. His prolific work would not be forgotten by youth of Norwood, Paradise, Albion, Glendevon even unto this day. I remembered when Carolyn Cooper had held her usual Friday Dancehall Artiste lecture up by UWI, Mona... I will never forget the particular Friday when Bounty Killer lectured... as a Bounty fan since his career started... I would be present at that lecture with my placard and signs BOUNTY FOR PRIME MINISTER! A memorable biographical tale, topped off by a fan request performance, nothing beats that.

Now flash forward to current day Jamaica... 2016... Dancehall ain't what it used to be! Today we watch the acidic career of Alkaline as he spits nasal inflections of mundane lyrics on the hottest dancehall and pop chart rhythms. There is even today an analogy in the dancehall that I think originates with Aidonia... "mi bad like 90's dancehall," which to me Ithink is testament to the current state of dancehall. The only saving grace for Jamaican music is reggae revival as Kartel tries to holler from his cell "Dancehall can't stall, woaheee dancehall can't dead yet"

But there are some critical things I have been waiting to see in the dancehall still... Maybe I am idealistic and a dreamer... but I had imagined Bounty Killer having many more years... I was waiting on Bounty Killer and Linkin Park, an era where Bounty's social commentary taps into global youth angst and pain. Bounty and Eminem, Bounty and P.O.D. (remix Youth of the Nation), Bounty and the Trini version of Bounty... Bunji Garlin, I think they would make a booming earthquake combination that would shake from both sides of the Caribbean and quake the world. The romantic version of Rodney Pryce that was on "It's Ok and It's Alright!" with the like of Emily Sande. Bounty from those 90's Jungle Cd's on rhythms that Major Lazer builds, Bounty with Calvin Harris, Bounty with those European producers... dubstep Bounty, Bounty on some Ancient Tomorrow rhythms like Protoje, as a matter of fact mi a wait pon Bounty-Chronixx, mi await pon Bounty and Kabaka...

I am not from that school that says Bounty's days are over, I believe those that say that have a failure of imagination. I see much more work to be done by Bounty, Beenie, Sizzla, Capleton, Buju and the entire generation that made the 90's great.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Analyzing the Chronixx Comment

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King Jr. 1963
Chronixx's now famous post!

The press is supposed to be the "Guardian of the Republic" and the "Pillar of the Democracy," the press is the only industry explicitly referenced in the U.S. constitution. How is it then, that the press and media in Jamaica and abroad seem so spineless in critiquing President Obama? Have they abdicated their role in giving voice to the voiceless and airing the VOX POPULI... Chronixx's comments echo a sentiment that cuts across a broad spectrum of Jamaicans, such as myself and various communities who are unwilling to look the other way simply because Mr. Obama is a black president. Such criticism of Obama is not unique to Jamaica and Jamaicans, but black academics and intellects everywhere. 

All this while in America itself under the Obama administration the plight of Black Americans has worsened:  A recent interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press,” NAACP CEO and president, Ben Jealous, told the show’s host that black Americans “are doing far worse” than when President Obama first took office. “The country’s back to pretty much where it was when this president started,” Jealous told show host David Gregory. “White people in this country are doing a bit better. Black people are doing far worse.”  Dr. Julianne Malveaux of Your Black World recently wrote that the Obama Administration needs to speak out more about existing racial disparities and persistent problems in black unemployment.

The Black Diaspora has seen the US elect thousands of African American local and state officials and re-elect the first black president. But Obama seems to have proven just a symbol, symbolic and nothing more. Nothing real, nothing substantial, nothing progressive as it pertains to the plight of blacks.

The media is slow and unwilling to note that our black leaders are dithering. Floundering. Flailing... failing and falling even. Symbolism supersedes the fact that black leadership has few or no victories to boast for the seventies, the eighties, the nineties or the new century, apart from their own illustrious careers. 

Obama seems a symbol used to nullify and quiet the analytic black mind and voice. "Nigger shut up we got a black president now!" 

Who in Jamaica or the media is willing to look past the fact that he is JUST a black president and willing to examine the fact that the black role model president conducts weekly “Terror Tuesday” meetings in the White House basement at which he dispatches drones to murder and special forces to kidnap and torture in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and across the African continent. It matters not at all that the Department of Justice prosecutes whistle blowers instead of war criminals, or that black military officials and diplomats like Susan Rice are up to their armpits in African blood. Mr. President highlighted the fact that our government meets behind our backs, in secret and signs agreements we don't know about, but what of his secret meetings.

The black political class at home and abroad is utterly self-interested. It cannot begin to mobilize black communities to demand higher wages, a massive jobs program to relieve unemployment, a new paradigm of urban economic development that isn't just moving poor people out of neighborhoods and richer ones in. It seems our egotistical black intelligentsia can't begin to make these things happen because foisting itself and its own advancement off as “representing” the black oppressed masses is the beginning and the end of who they are and what they do. They are not truly about the black diaspora and its plight, they do not truly care to ease the existential condition of his brothers, neighbours and friends.

For them, the election and and re-election of Barack Obama is the end of black history. The be all and end all of our history. Addressing black unemployment, pervasive economic injustice, opposing the neo-liberal,capitalist, globalist, transnational agenda of privatization and austerity put forth not just by the black president, but by an entire layer of black thinkers are, in their language not pragmatic or “realistic.”

President Obama denied our request to exonerate Marcus Garvey, he is more willing to lobby for homosexuals and their agenda, than the plight of black people. He neglects Africa, send troops instead of Doctors like Cuba did to combat Ebola in Africa... Netanyahu just disrespected him in his own country, I see no reason to rejoice nor genuflect at his arrival. He allowed and sanctioned the murder of Qaddafi the last defender of Africa, friend of Nelson Mandela, after inviting him to the U.S. and defending him in the face of public disapproval, he without congressional approval and with the help of Sarkozy and Nato murdered Qaddafi. In-spite of winning a Nobel peace prize... he has yet to close GITMO. I as a descendant of a UNIA member from the days of Marcus Garvey... a Jamaican who saw the havoc that is democrats neo-liberal agenda in the 90's, as a black man who sees today's social stagnation of the black race and our position as last economically, cannot support this man who says he is America's president!

 I support Chronixx in saying what he said. Sometimes, in order to follow our moral compass and/or our hearts, we have to make unpopular decisions or stand up for what we believe in. To those who would see Chronixx muzzled, I quote Neal Boortz: "Free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection."

And I close with a quote from President JFK to Mr. Obama, to our government and to the media:

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed--and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment-- the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply "give the public what it wants"--but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hot New Additions to the Dancehall Documentary Playlist!

Kymani Marley and I-Octane

Baby Cham and the Gong

Chronixx and Protoje

Gong and Sean Paul

Who! Man a Real Bongo Nyah!

Ragga, Shango and Kalonji