Bobi Wine to Share Stage with Jamaican Reggae Legends

What a year 2018 was! So many ups and downs like is the case for any other calendar year anyway. The landslide victory of a musician in a by-election that was held in June 2017 is something that is hard to ignore especially because that particular incident’s impact spilled over into 2018. Since Robert Kyagulanyi better known by his stage name Bobi Wine was declared MP of Kyaddondo East, he’s made waves in and out of the country for good and bad reasons depending on which side of the fence you are standing. It is no surprise that he regularly featured in the news in 2018.

b2
Photo: Tabz Ku Camera

At the end of 2017 he released “Freedom” in protest against a constitutional amendment that proposed the removal of the presidential age limit of 75, making President Yoweri Museveni, who has been president since 1986 and will be above 75 when the next elections in 2021 are held, eligible to contest. Uganda Communications Commission banned the song from getting any airplay on both TV and radio stations. The artist turned MP known for pushing the envelope when it comes to political and social issues was in August 2018 arrested and detained by security forces for possible charges of unlawful possession of firearms and incitement of violence charges that were later withdrawn.

dlrkrw3wwaacf3r

For all his low-lights in 2018 especially his alleged torture after his arrest, the self-styled “Ghetto President” has something to smile about. At the end of the year, he was named 2018 Africanews Personality of the Year beating Rwandan president Paul Kagame and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Ebola respondents in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The award is primarily an audience-led process in choosing the most influential news maker over the course of the news year. A few days before this though, something extremely huge happened for the Bobi Wine brand.
On 27 December, 2018, at Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, it was announced that Bobi Wine would be on the line-up for the 26th edition of one of Jamaica’s biggest and longest running festivals; Rebel Salute, that will be held on 18th and 19th January. Rebel Salute that has been held annually since 1994 is a festival that is known for its musicultural vibration. It celebrates rootsy and conscious music and for the last 25 editions it has not strayed away from that. It’s held in mid January around the promoter’s (Tony Rebel) birthday on January 15th. The event has evolved from an annual one night birthday party to a globally recognised cultural event that now happens over two days and promotes reggae consciousness and livity (a Rastafarian concept of living righteously).
rebel-salute2019-line-up-announcement
Rebel Salute organiser, the legendary Tony Rebel who many Ugandans know for his classic ‘If Jah’, put out a 14 second video to announce that Bobi Wine will be on the line-up on social media. He will share the same stage with Dawn Penn of the “No, No, No (You Don’t Love Me)” fame, The Wailers, Wailing Souls, Luciano, Third World’s Cat Coore, Wayne Wonder, Mighty Diamonds, Ken Boothe, Half Pint, Bounty Killer, Yellowman, new teenage sensation Koffee, Jah Cure, Horace Andy, Bushman, Jesse Royal, Dre Island, Echo Minott, Agent Sasco, Queen Ifrica…I could go on and on. The list really long. Yes, Rebel Salute is such a vibe.
This is a huge thing for the musician, who will be the first Ugandan to grace one of the biggest, if not the biggest, music events in Jamaica; REBEL SALUTE. It is a sign that his work over the last couple of years has caught the eyes and ears of many. It is quite monumental for Uganda as well seeing as the Ugandan flag will fly HIGHat an event that attracts the largest number of tourists than any other music festival in Jamaica. In 2013, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) did a survey at Rebel Salute, which came up with the result that over 38 per cent of the population was people who flew in for the festival.
Bobi Wine
Photo: Stuart Tibaweswa

Quick fun fact: The dancehall performers at Rebel Salute use their birth names instead of their stage names and according to Tony Rebel, this gives them the opportunity to show their “good side”. So basically,Jamaica will watch Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu perform at Rebel Salute. Moses Ssali, over to you.

Chronixx in Uganda

So I am just there chilling, trying not to fall for Fools’ Day pranks then a friend sent me this.

Chronixx

I cannot find the right words to describe my reaction after reading the tweet. Later that month, someone reminded me of one of my very many false prophecies. If only I got paid for every false prophecy I’ve made, I’d have been retired and would be chilling at my dad’s farmhouse.

LOL

Very few of us were so psyched up about the concert. I remember trying to convince my bosses to have NBS TV as the official TV partner for the show. It was a tough job. In the end they were convinced but I could tell they got into it halfheartedly. Well, when we got the logo on, I didn’t care much what they thought.

Many of my friends were not as enthusiastic as I was but hey, I was not surprised about it. This is Uganda and reggae is not the most popular genre in these parts.

Fast forward to the night of June 17th. Fast forward to Chronixx and Zincfence Redemption on stage also known as ignore almost everything that happened before he came on stage especially A Pass’ performance. I could go on and on and on about my experience but I’ll leave my friends to share their experiences and reviews that night.

This is the first of two blog posts about the Ugandan leg of the Soul Circle tour. Enjoy.

My thoughts on the Chronixx show. I had a wonderful experience personally. I loved the fact that he performed for 2 solid hours giving the reveler their money’s worth. 2 hours without having to take any break. He couldn’t have given any extra for people who had been waiting for about 5 hours not paying attention to the curtain raisers waiting for just him. The deejay who played before Nasser had the best set in my opinion. The venue – Ndere troupe center was a good choice for a live music concert. I can’t complain about security. – Jude  Mugabi

Days before the event, I tried to interest some few friends to attend Chronixx’s concert but most of them declined claiming they didn’t know the artist. I was surprised to see one of the guys who accepted the invite singing word for word to some of the songs when Chronixx hit the stage. And dancing, too. It seems, from my observation, Chronixx’s music precedes his own brand name. That was a beautiful thing to see. – Samwyri

Chronixx was my first concert. It was my first reggae concert too. It will not be the last.
I didn’t know what to expect because I don’t go to concerts. I don’t like the kavuyo, the pushing and shoving, having drunks pour alcohol on you or getting mugged by punks.  Oddly, there was none of that. It was lots of fist bumping, heads bobbing and hugging. You didn’t even have to know the songs. It was in the vibe, the rhythm, the beat, the way everyone around you threw their hands in the air, lifted their heads and got lost in the moment. Some moments was one of those people. Other moments I was watching them.  – Benjy

I would describe Chronnix’s as one undeniably persuasive performance, with a very special devotion to his message from himself and those that genuinely understood his music. Special! – Ekachellan

I loved every minute of the concert. it was very organised and there was no commotion at the gate unlike most concerts in Uganda. Stage was proper with good sound. Performances were awesome with Cindy being my favorite local performance. And then chronixx started doing his thing and we all just just went wild. Shouted so much, lost my voice. Great concert. We want another one, just like the other one. – Raymond THE Kerororist

Although some aspects like the opening acts and the sound quality were wanting,of was a great show. Chronixx not only proved that he’s a great performer, but a legend in the making. He’s exactly what reggae music had been waiting for… both lyrically and spiritually. – Kye

It was the first of it’s kind, a reggae experience in Uganda. The much anticipated Chronixx Soul Circle Tour featuring Zinc Redemption Band. The atmosphere was more than welcoming and the crowd, excited. Chronixx’s performance was everything and more. It was spiritual, engaging, humbling and full of consciousness with songs like Access Granted, Somewhere, Champion Capture Land, Here Comes Trouble to which the crowd sang and swayed to every lyric. Forget the hype, it is a concert thet will be remembered.

“My music is about love and knowledge of self” Chronixx – Mashoo (flyGeek25 on twitter)

Reggae is my favorite genre of music I particularly like old school reggae basically because it is organic and when I first listened to Chronnixx he was one of the few new school artists whose music has a lot of message and it has that old school touch that I’ve grown to love. When I first got news of Chronixx’s performance in Kampala I was too excited and him travelling with his band made me a little over too excited. When he finally stepped on stage and the band started playing I ascended into a trance of happiness because I was singing along to every song during the whole performance I hadn’t felt that happy in a very long time. The days following the show I kept on reliving a few moments of the show.So I think 18/6/2016 from 00.30hrs to 03.15hrs is the most fun I’ve had out this year – Josh Muyomba

Big ting dis – Brian (Mi friend dem)

Watch this space.

 

Play Some Roots

In the beginning there was rhythm and that rhythm was reggae. Through a combination of drums, bass guitar and the horns, reggae was born. Drum and bass are the heartbeat and backbone Jamaica’s most popular music since the late 60s. This music evolved out of ska and rocksteady.  Ska was Jamaica’s first truly indigenous pop form. The Wailers’ first major hit Simmer Down and Morgan Heritage’s Everything is Still Everything are the best examples I can give you of what ska is. For rocksteady, check out Christopher Ellis’ Better Than Love and Tarrus Riley’s entire Love Situation album. Not exactly the best references for rocksteady but those should help.

You must be asking yourself where I am really going with this. Well over the next few weeks, I will help break down the different sub-genres of reggae. I have met very many people who get quite confused. What is lovers rock? What is roots reggae? What is dub reggae? What makes them different? Why do I not consider dancehall to be a sub-genre of reggae when everyone else does? No, I am not a reggae expert but maybe one day I will be.

According to Chronixx, who by the way is touring the world and Uganda is one of his stops, reggae music is a music that was born out of a spiritual awakening in Jamaica. It has that spiritual element within it. It is part of us trying to be innovative and be creative and have reverence in the spirit that gave us this music. Chronixx is considered to be  the figurehead of the ‘reggae revival’. I have written about this movement before. For spiritual upliftment, roots & culture is what you should be listening to. Want to  connect with the spiritual side of Rastafari and the honouring of God, then roots music is what you should be listening to. It is the reggae that deals with everyday life. It talks to the downtown jamas more than it does to the uptown jamas. When Bob Marley sang, “No sun will shine in my day today…”in Concrete Jungle only the ghetto youths could relate cuz it never shines for them. It doesn’t sometimes for the people uptown but it never does for those downtown.

The relationship between rastafarianism and reggae is mutual. Reggae was built and still survives on rastafarian teachings. Rastas are the guardians of reggae’s most popular tradition and they introduced African drumming to Jamaica’s popular music over 60 Years ago. The Nyabinghi, one of the mansions of rastafarianism, are known for a style of ritual drumming performed as a communal meditative practice in the Rastafarian lifestyle. Like many facets of Rastafarianism, it evolved from the drum ceremonies that enslaved Africans of various tribes brought with them to Jamaica.

Roots & Culture is not just a sub-genre, it is a way of life. One love, inity, ital living(livity), peace, equal rights, justice, smoking the herb and everything conscious. In the 70s,  the rootsy, conscious, spiritual Rastafarian vibe was so huge. It was the era that gave us The Wailers, Culture, Mystic Revelation, The Abyssinians, Don Carlos, Black Uhuru, Israel Vibration, Junior Murvin(bless his soul), Roots Radics, Mighty Diamonds, The Congos, Steel Pulse, Alpha Blondy, Cultura Profetica from Puerto Rica, The Gladiators, Matumbi, Max Romeo, Jah Shaka and Toots Hibbert all legends in their own right. The 70s rootsy sound is so distinct. It was ruined by the 80s underground sound known as dancehall. Some artistes stuck to it regardless, playing reggae as it ought to be played and that must have influenced the new crop of roots reggae musicians who have chosen consciousness over slackness, consciousness over sexual content, spirituality over worldly pleasures, righteousness over immorality. Roots reggae is not just music you dance to, it’s music for spiritual work to make one wholesome and understand a thing or two and that is what the whole of reggae is all about.

 

Reggae on the Nile

The fear of missing out (fomo) has made many people, myself inclusive, do things they would never have done. I have been to parties and events because of the fear that I’d miss out on something great then gone on to regret attending. After every such event, I have sworn to my mother’s Kamba gods never to fall prey to the acronym. Kamba gods are known to be so “powerful” but they have forsaken me almost every time fomo knocked on the door. There’s two kinds of fomo though. That that your friends, old school mates or the internet creates and then that that has nothing to do with the compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction. Ever been to an event that has not been hyped and had an experience of a lifetime? I know I have. One of those happened on this day 3 years ago.

At the time I was doing the graveyard shift. On the night of 30th April, a friend in South Africa shared artwork of a concert that was going to happen in Jinja. The headline act was the legendary reggae band Inner Circle. They were to perform at an event that had been organised by a couple of jamas whose main intention was to bring some more colour and smiles to Jinja. The show dubbed “Reggae on the Nile” was the climax of a week long event in Jinja called Paint the City Bright that saw folks in Jinja participate in the first ever African Ice Swimming Championships. The Ice Bucket Challenge happened before the internet owned it basically. As has been the case every time I head over to Jinja for the weekend, I arrived on  Friday night. My brother was my host and he took me to a bar that was just across the venue for the concert. Inner Circle were doing the sound check from just across the road and I could hear it loud and clear. There was no way I was going to miss the show after hearing that.

Inner_Circle[1]
Show art for the concert
On the day of the concert, I was at the venue by 6 pm.  At the entrance, I met a couple of jamas who’d made the trip from Kampala. Real reggae ambassadors. Elder Kiwanuka (R.I.P), his wife Mama Nakato (R.I.P), Ras Brown, Ras Ssemakula, Ras Peace and JD were part of that contingent. The entrance fee was just  UGX 20,000. Let that sink in. This is Inner Circle. Formed in the 60s by the brothers Ian and Roger Lewis together with  Stephen “Cat” Coore (who moved on in later years to join Third World), the band is one of the oldest reggae bands. While they’re more popular in these parts for the songs Sweat, Bad Boys(both from their 1992 album Bad to the Bone) and Games People Play, they’d gained major success in the 70s when Jacob Miller (R.I.P) was the band’s lead singer. Listened to Tenement Yard? In reggae circles, that might be their biggest song. Let me not bore you with all this history.

IC 4
Part of the Kampala contingent at the show

The curtain raisers were the Swedish band Nine Miles who kicked the show off covering songs by Bob Marley & The Wailers. Bob must have been smiling in his grave while they performed. It got part of the crowd jamming. Just part of the crowd. One of those on their feet was Elder Kiwanuka. They called Evon on stage and their performance was worth the fee we had paid in my opinion.

iC 5
Elder Kiwanuka (c), may his soul rest in power, as Nine Miles performed

After Nine Miles came a couple of artistes from the region that included General Mega Dee and Rachael Magoola, who got the crowd up with her late 90s hit song Obangaina. The MC on the night was Mosh – has he not been around for forever? – who in my opinion could have done a better job. He has failed to move on from the 90s style of emceeing. If my memory serves me right, ‘General’ Mega Dee’s  performance was cut short because the ‘Bad Boys of Reggae’ had arrived and were ready to perform. Bigwig things.

While I was aware of who I had come to watch perform, when Ian and Roger Lewis walked on stage, I was star struck. These two had played for almost every reggae artiste  I knew. They’d played for Bob Marley, Jacob Miller, and everyone else I can mention. When Roger strummed the bass guitar to start the performance, I almost lost it.

Concert organisers need to take all the advice they can get. The event didn’t need a VIP section and when the band called everyone closer , us jamas in kayola broke through the barricades to show those in VIP how to skank at a reggae concert.. Most of the songs they performed were not popular with the crowd but the vibe was real. Then as custom dictates at reggae concerts, they called on everyone to pull out their lighters and light up the herb.BOOM!!! In a few there were clouds of smoke. I guess they were prepping the crowd for their song, Games People Play. The crowd went wild when the song played. They paid tribute to Jacob Miller, performed Tenement Yard and We A Rockers, a song from the 70s Jamaican fim Rockers in which Jacob Miller starred, and obviously got the crowd in ‘baby making’ mood with their hit song Sweat (A La La La La Long) as the show was coming to a climax. Every instrumentalist on stage then had a solo session before the band said their goodbyes.  But the crowd had not had enough even though we all agreed that we’d had more than our money’s worth. We started to chant “WE WANT MORE” over and over even after the stage lights had been turned off and a couple of minutes later the band overwhelmed by the support hit the stage again and performed 4 or 5 songs. The show ended close to 1 am and no one was complaining.

On June 17th, Chronixx, who Inner Circle felt reminded them of their long departed friend Jacob Miller was chosen by the band to help remake the band’s biggest song Tenement Yard, will be performing live with his Zincfence Redemption band at the Ndere Cultural Centre. Live reggae concerts rarely disappoint. Be there.

FUN FACT: Pharrell Williams’ 2014 hit single Happy was arranged and recorded at Circle House Studios in Miami, Florida owned by Inner Circle.

 

 

420: The Perfect Tree

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. (Gen 1:29)

…thou shalt eat the herb of the field. (Genesis 3:18)

…eat every herb of the land. (Exodus 10:12)

2
A young marijuana plant

Better is a dinner of herb where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. (Proverbs 15:17)

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man. (Psalm 104:14)

Cannabis, Kush, weed, pot, indica, herb, ganja, grass, green, Mary Jane, hemp, marijuana, collie weed, sensi, i-shence, enjaga, esadda just some of the names used to refer to a particular plant or products from it. Many (if not all) cultures and several people use it differently.  In China, its fibre (hemp) was not only used as decoration, it was also used to make clothes, ropes, fishing nets and paper. The Summerians of the Near East were the first to use cannabis for religious purposes due to man’s inability to engage in introspection. There’s an Indian god named Siva, described as The Lord of ‘Bhang,’ the drink made of cannabis leaves, milk, sugar and spices. Poultry farmers I have met speak of cannabis seeds being very good for the birds’ immune system.

However, we are not going to delve into marijuana’s merits and demerits or whether it should be legal or not. It is not one that is intended to make you use or discourage you from using and should you choose to use, how you should. What we are going to do here is look at the inextricable link between the herb and reggae music.

See, reggae and rastafarianism are commonly associated. Reggae music is an important means of transporting vital messages of Rastafarianism and one of those is use of the holy herb known to rastas as known to us as “MARYAM”. It is to rastaswhat the holy communion is to the catholic. For a rastaman, marijuana is sacred and holy and used as a sacrement. They do not in any way use it for recreational purposes. The high a rastaman gets after using maryam, as they call it, is purely for i-ditation (rasta for meditation). The undisputed ‘King of Reggae’ Bob Marley once said, “When you smoke herb, it reveals you to yourself.” This basically means that herb shows you who you really are, it amplifies you, your self and your feelings. In short, for rastafarians the herb is the key to new understanding of the self, the universe, and Jah.  It is the vehicle to cosmic consciousness; it introduces one to levels of reality not ordinarily perceived by the non-Rastafarians, and it develops a certain sense of fusion with all living beings.

For the over 40 years reggae has been around, its musicians have glorified marijuana and have called for it’s legalisation in places where it is illegal. Uganda is one of those places. One of the biggest songs on reggae themed nights here or whenever a DJ plays reggae in between other genres is a ganja anthem; Marlon Asher’s Ganja Farmer. The song is so popular even 10 years after its release. Maybe it’s cuz of it’s very catchy hook, but hey, doesn’t make it less a ganja anthem. My favourite ganja anthem and probably the most bold of them all because of when it was released and the musician did not in any way mince his words. Released in 1975 by an artist who had had many run-ins with the police for possession and use of cannabis, Legalize It is what so many people consider the ultimate ganja anthem. Peter Tosh did not only mention marijuana’s benefits like what it can do for you if you have glaucoma, cancer or asthma (Jah 9, a female reggae artist, is asthmatic and has never got an attack since she started using ganja through steamers) and professionals who are users, he called for its legalisation. Last year, Jamaica took a huge step in that direction when it decriminalised marijuana. Not yet legal but hey…

Peter Tosh w
Peter Tosh seated in a marijuana garden

From Bob Marley’s Kaya to Jacob Miller’s Herb is the Healing, Rita Marley’s One Draw to Musical Youth’s Pass the Dutchie, Morgan Heritage’s Plant Up Di Herb to Chronixx’s Perfect Tree, Chino’s Boom Draw to Jah 9’s Taken Up, Dennis Brown’s Ganja Smoke to Jesse Royal’s Finally, Julian Marley’s Boom Draw to Collie Budds’ Come Around, Gyptian’s Sensi to Tarrus Riley’s Herbs Promotion,  Richie Spice’s Di Plane Land to Sizzla’s Free up di Herb, Michael Palmer’s Don’t Smoke the Seed to Billy Boyo’s One Spliff a Day, Eek-A-Mouse’s Sensee Party to Peter Tosh’s Bush Doctor, Jah 9’s The Marijuana to Richie Spice’s Marijuana Pon di Corner, Sugar Minott’s Herbsman Hustling to Johnny Osbourne’s Mushroom, Morgan Heritage’s Give We a License to Josey Wales’ It a Fi Burn, Culture’s Collie Weed Song to Chris Martin’s Pass Me a Blunt. The list is endless. It is tradition at almost all reggae concerts for there to be a ganja smoking session so organisers and law enforcement officers are told in time.

Gentleman
Gentleman, the German reggae musician, seen here in a marijuana garden

Legend has it that marijuana plants were found growing on King Solomon’s grave. This, to some, is a mystery. However it’s significance is that marijuana grew on the grave of the wisest man on earth so…do not mind me. Marijuana has been demonised but reggae has stuck to it. Hip hop artists on the other hand “smoke trees and pop bottles” because they think it is cool.

Here’s a new word for you;

Boom Draw: (noun) a handful of really good cannabis.

As I sign out allow me to wish a blessed earthstrong to a Marley I have so much respect for, second son of Bob Marley, Stephen Marley was born today. Coincidence? I think not.

Stephen Marley
Stephen Marley (pictured) turns 44 today

Reggae’s Calling For Peace

As the elections near, I thought I’d share lyrics from a reggae song that calls for peace. Contrary to what mainstream media has made you believe, reggae is all about love, peace and inity(rasta for unity). * cue Bob Marley’s One Love*. Yes, #IChoosePeace for very many reasons the biggest of which is I am a father of a three year old girl who starts school at the end of this month. She is so excited about it, her mum on her behest called me this morning because Sammy wanted to thank me. It was an emotional moment.

Sammy

Can we please make sure that the children do not experience any kind of violence? Whatever the result, let us be selfless. Tuvudde wala ba guy.

These are lyrics of Beres Hammond’s Reggae Calling. Reggae artists were called upon to pay tribute to him and guess who chose to cover this one? The ‘Queen of Reggae’ Marcia Griffiths. Speaks volumes, right?

What’s wrong with the world now,
It needs a love injection.

I’m a calling out America,
Calling out to Africa,
I’m a calling out to Russia,
And darling sweet Jamaica,
War has no winner.
I’m a calling on the presidents,
Calling all prime ministers,
I’m a calling out to Russia,
And darling sweet Jamaica,
War has no winner.

And when you love,
What joy you feel within,
And when you hurt someone,
What do you gain?
Our children die for what they don’t even know.
Your kids hate mine ’cause we made it so.
Tell me what in the world are we waiting for to stop love from walking out of that door?

I’m a calling out America,
Calling out to Africa,
I’m a calling out to Russia,
And darling sweet Jamaica,
War has no winner.

Fighting for power,
You’re fighting for land.
I’m so confused,
I just can’t understand.
You lose your family and I lose my best friend.
Hurt will be heard ’cause they all start pain.
Tell me what in the world are we waiting for to stop love from walking out of that door?

I’m a calling out America,
Calling out to Africa,
I’m a calling out to Russia,
And darling sweet Jamaica,
War has no winner.
Calling on the presidents,
Calling all prime ministers,
I’m a calling out to Russia,
And darling sweet Jamaica,
War has no winner.

I long to live long,
To breathe some fresh air,
I long to walk the streets,
Without any fear.
Our children die for what,
They don’t even know.
Your kids hate mine ’cause we made it so.
Tell me what in the world are we waiting for to stop love from walking out of that door?

I’m a calling out America,
Calling out to Africa,
I’m a calling out to Russia,
And darling sweet Jamaica,
War has no winner

I am calling out to everyone cuz war has no winner.

Baby Making Reggae – Valentine’s Day Special

lOVERS ROCK

Around the world people are celebrating love so I came up with a playlist of 45 songs lovers can play today. The kind of music that will put you in the mood for bad manners.  With lovers rock, you can’t go wrong. I would know. I could not exhaust the entire lovers rock playlist though. Happy Valentine’s day.

Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Stir It Up

Gregory Isaacs’ Night Nurse

Beres Hammond’s No Disturb Sign

Marcia Griffiths ft’ Busy Signal’s Automatic (Remix)

Tarrus Riley’s She’s Royal

Peter Tosh’s Ketchy Shubby

Gramps Morgan’s Coming Home

Morgan Heritage’s She’s Still Loving Me

I-Octane’s Love You Like I do

Jah Cure’s That Girl

Richie Spice’s BOOM

Kenya’s My Joy

Alaine’s Never Done

Gyptian’s Beautiful Lady –

Jemere Morgan’s International Love

Turbulence ft’ Sasha’s Want A Natty

Rik Rok’s Hold Me

Etana’s Reggae

Jah9’s Avocado

Iba Mahr’s Love You Girl

Chronixx’s Access Granted

Peetah Morgan’s My Makeda

Dennis Brown’s Love Has Found Its Way

Lutan Fyah’s Tangled Up

Cecile’s African King

Freddie McGregor’s Just Don’t Wanna Be Lonely

UB40’S I Got You Babe

Eric Donaldson’s Cherry Oh Baby

Burning Spear’s Down By The Riverside

Buju Banton’s One To One

Chuck Fender & Cherine Anderson’s Coming Over

Protoje’s No Lipstick

Hempress Sativa’s Kushite Love

Jamal’s Malaika

Maddox’s All Time Lover

D-Major’s Girl Of My Dreams

Cherine Anderson’s Soon Forward (Gregory Isaac’s Cover)

Maxi Priest’s Best Of Me

Anthony B’s My Yes, My No

Chevaughn’S When You’re Here

Sanaipei’s Rastaman

Hezron’s Where We Can Feel Alive

Duane Stephenson’s Cottage In Negril

Queen Ifrica’s Far Away

Da’Ville’ One In Million

BLAST

Day 6: Footie Conqueror

Battersea
Bob Marley June 12, 1977.

Football fans around the world are either glued to their TV screens or find their way to the stadium every Saturday cuz football is more than just life. Football is so big all other sports came together to create a bigger sporting event than the football World Cup. FIFA has been milking that cow for years on end and the recent FIFA scandal is testament to that. Bob Marley was big on football and ping pong. He was good at both too. Today on his birthday, we look at a remarkable footballing event that took place at the Battersea Park on June 12, 1977, as a motley assemblage of reggae lovers from the London music industry took on a team led by Jamaica’s emerging superstar. Andrew Perry, a music critic,  interviewed some of the people behind this game.

Rob Patridge: I joined the press department  at Island on June 6, 1977. My first task that Monday morning was to send out a company memo enlisting support for a match between Island records and The Wailers. They’d been playing the Rainbow concerts and Bob wanted a game.

Trevor Wyatt: I ran a team at Island. We didn’t have a proper kit, but we reasonably organised. We used Battersea Park which had a pitch with goalposts.

Neville Garrick: Battersea was near where we lived, just off Kin’s Road. After Bob was shot, Island got him this really nice apartment, and the entire band moved in, including our cook, Gillie.. We’d go to Island’s studios in Hammersmith late in the evening and get home at 4 or 5am. We’d wake up, play football, eat, and then think about going to the studio again. Not many actual band members played football: there was Bob, myself, Gillie, Seeco Patterson the percussionist. The Sons Of Jah, a reggae group from Ladbroke Grove, made up the numbers.

John Knowles: Our team that day was Trevor Wyatt, Tim Clark (later Robbie Williams’ manager) , a couple of guys from the warehouse, and maybe a journalist or two – Danny Baker claims he played but I don’t remember him being there. We turned up and Marley and his boys were standing there smoking a spliff, ready to play. Bob had his tracksuit on, and he tea cosy on his head. He was raring to go. It turned out he was a great footballer, he had fantastic skill. He could hold the ball up, bounce it on his knee and on his head – he was great at keepy-uppy.

Trevor Wyatt: They were a class apart. Bob always seemed to be on the ball. They called him The Skipper. He loved the great Brazil team of that time and he would emulate them. Everything went around him, like a Ronaldinho.

Neville Garrick: Bob was very fast and aggressive on the ball- skillful enough, but he put a lot of passion into it. His passion for football came from growing up in Trenchtown. It’s the cheapest game to play, all you need is a ball.. You can even make a ball. There was a club there called Boy’s Town, where Bob met Alan ‘Skill’ Cole, who was his closest friend. ‘Skill’ ended up playing with Pele for Santos in Brazil. Bob didn’t have the potential to be a really great soccer player, so he went the music direction.

John Knowles: The game wasn’t your formal 45 minutes each way, it was just running up and down until everybody was fucked. I was a defender. I got the nickname ‘Knocker’ after an incident with Jake Riviera (boss of Stiff Records) – I knocked him out at the first Elvis Costello gig at Dingwalls. My job for the team was, if somebody went up to head the ball and they looked like scoring , grab them by the bollocks. On this occasion it was like, whatever you do, Knocker, do ot break his fucking leg. He scored four goals – I mean you would with nobody tackling you.

Rob Patridge: Gillie the cook’s role on the pitch was as a minder for Bob. He was a big fellow.

Trevor Wyatt: We lost 18-0, I believe. Smoking ganja only seemed to focus their minds. After the game, they all went off for some Ital food and chilled, and probably talked about how useless we were – “Dem cyaan play football!” – and we went to the pub and had 10 pints.

Rob Patridge: The Battersea match set the tradition that every time Bob was in town, there’d be some sort of match. When Bob was over for the Crystal Palace gig, instead of a week of gigs, there was a week of football matches against Record Mirror, Eddie Grant’s Ice Records and so on.

Trevor Wyatt: Whenever the band rehearsed in the stio at Island’s offices in Chiswick, the pitch by the Fuller’s Brewery was just around the corner, so we’d slide down and have a game.

Pete Keeley: In summer 1978, me and about six mates were having a kick about in Earlham Park near UEA in Norwich. The Wailers were playing there that night – I wasn’t going, it was sold out. Next thing we knew, Bob and his five mates strolled up and said, “Fancy a game?”  We were like, “No problem!” thinking , this’ll be easy. They ran rings around us. We swapped ends at half time, and they all had a big spliff, and made even more mincemeat of us in the second half. It was about 11-0 in the end.

Neville Garrick: When Bob had a big suite in a hotel, we’d play ‘money ball’. It was football, keeping it up, and if you broke anything you had to pay for it – hence ‘money ball”. It was during that time, when we were in Paris on the first leg of the Exodus tour, that Bob got injured playing, , and the doctors diagnosed that he had melanoma. He’d originall injured the same toe playing in Trenchtotown.

Bob loved playing. One time we played against some National Front guys in Battersea. So I told him , and we beat their ass as well.

Enjoy your football weekend as you play some Bob Marley music.

 

 

 

Day 5: Punky Reggae Party

Bob Marley was forced into exile after the attempted assassination. His first stop was Nassau before he moved to London. His stay in London was the inspiration behind some of his songs. Bob’s sighting of punks and dreads at the Roxy and elsewhere inspired him to write one of my favourite Bob Marley songs, Punky Reggae Party. I played this song at least once every month when I hosted the reggae show on Touch FM. See, Touch FM is primarily a rock radio station or has been one for the last 11 years. I do not know what is happening there now sooo. It also is home to the longest lasting reggae show in this town. Got it yet? No? Punk and reggae. I hope you have now. Kris Needs spoke to the people behind the scene. This post does not look at Bob the man but what a punky reggae party really meant. In 1976, during the Notting Hill riots, Bob Marley helped form an alliance of young rastas and punks, recording “Punky Reggae Party” (at the Roxy, Neal Street, Covent Garden).

Andrew Czezowski (Roxy co-promoter at the time): There were no punk DJs at the start because there were no punk records. Don just came in with the reggae stuff. That simple moment kicked off the punky reggae party.

Susan Carrintgton (Roxy co-promoter at the time): Don lived in Forest Hill with Jeannette Lee and had this huge collection of reggae and ska records. We didn’t have a DJ for the first night. He said, “No, I can’t do that.” We said, “Go on,” because we’d had the records in [King’s Road Fashion Road emporium] Acme Attractions.

Don Letts (Roxy DJ for 4 months): I’d never DJd in my life nor considered it. There weren’t any superstar DJs. Obviously because of my reggae background I knew about DJ culture.. There were no punk records so I played reggae. People make a big deal out of me turning the white kids onto reggae but there’s a tradition in this country of white working class kids gravitating to black music. People like [Joe] Strummer, [John] Lydon and [Paul] Simpson already knew about reggae and didn’t need Don Letts to turn them on. But a large number of white kids didn’t grow up around black people I really turned on. I played Velvets, Dolls, Stooges, MC5 and The Saints but people told me to keep playing the fucking reggae, even when the bands started bringing things out. I never played requests. I would always say, “Why hear something twice when you can hear something you’ve never heard once?” People like The Slits and The Clash took it on board and reinterpreted it. That was kind of empowering for me to see how my culture had a direct effect on my white contemporaries. We both had something to bring to the party. I went back to Forest Hill and told my brethren that I had got the gig at The Roxy. They couldn’t stop taking the piss. Andrew (the co-promoter) was looking for staff so I asked them if they were interested and they said, “Get the fuck out of here.” I got them to come down to the Roxy and they saw an untapped herb market. A week later, they were working there.

Desmond Letts [Dread ring leader at The Roxy, barman, herb vendor, Don”s brother): We weren’t into punk, all these guys with pins sticking out. We were into reggae. We were shocked, thinking these white guys have one crazy and getting to know everybody that we got into it. Don was the DJ. I was the guy who did everything: the door, cloakroom, MC, kind of ringleader of that whole bunch. I’d do the door when there was a big queue, like say for The Damned or Heartbreakers. I’d sneak a couple of people in: John Peel, Shane MacGowan, Chrissie Hynde. It was cool behind the bar, there were loads of drugs. On Friday and Saturday, I’d buy an ounce of ganja, go back to Forest Hill around four o’clock and be rolling spliffs.Then we’d sell them for a pound each.

Leo Williams (Roxy barman): We used to roll ’em at home because punks couldn’t roll their spliffs. We’d keep them in a pint glass underneath the bar. We didn’t feel threatened by them and they didn’t feel threatened by us.

Don Letts: I remember Shane MacGowan coming up and saying, “Give me a spliff and two beers, please,” and after a moment’s hesitation, “No make that two sliffs and one beer!” There was some serious cultural exchange going on, turning each other on by understanding our differences. The punks were digging on the anti-establishment, “chant down Babylon”, heavy bass lines, and they didn’t mind the weed. We were getting the whole DIY ethic. Everybody was picking up a guitar. We were rebels operating under outside the law. The Roxy was the place where like-minded people met and other ideas sprang up. Every big movement needs a base or an HQ. For 100 days that was as real as the punky reggae party ever got.

 

Day 4: Family Affair

Officially, Bob Marley had 11 children. What some people say though is he had a kid on every street corner in Kingston. Well, what those people are really saying is that Bob was a ladies’ man. Many women were attracted to him.  In the late 60s before he moved to the US to join his mother, he was advised by Clement “Coxsone” Dodd to marry his love at the time, Rita. The two had been seeing each other for some time. She gave him three children, a girl and two boys. He went on to have children with different women, one of them a former Miss World. Today we find out what some of his children really thought about him. He was dad to them and superstar to the rest of the world. It is only fair that in my 7 day series, I highlight who he really was to five of the eleven. The five I have decided to go with are;

Cedella

Cedella Marley: Bob’s first child , who honed her craft in The Melody Makers (three time Grammy award winners), before becoming CEO at Tuff Gong and launching her own women’s fashion range, Catch A Fire. Lately she has shown a lot of support for the female Jamaican football team.

ziggy

David ‘Ziggy’ Marley: Born in 1968, he is Bob’s oldest son. He sat in his father’s recording sessions from the age of 10. At 11 he formed the Melody Makers with his siblings. Together with Stephen Marley, they have the record for most Grammy awards for Reggae Album of the Year.

Rohan

Rohan Marley: An ex American footballer, was involved with Lauryn Hill to the point that they had four children. Lauryn sang about one of them. Rita Marley, who was not Rohan’s mum by the way, loved Lauryn so much she once called her daughter.

Damian

Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley: Son to the greatest King of Reggae and the Queen of the World (better known as Miss World) in 1976, Cindy Breakspeare, he is Bob’s youngest child. That right there is royalty. Whatever he does will always be special even when it is not.

Ky-mani

Ky-Mani Marley: The offspring of Bob and Anita Belnavis, Ky-Mani (it means Adventurous Traveller in Kikuyu  by the way…Kenyans always winning) was just six when his dad passed on.

Today I share interviews by Lois Wilson I came across in a 2007 magazine I found stacked away in my small book shelf at my old man’s farm house just the other day. LESSON. I have managed to edit bits of it because they were in pidgin English. Enjoy.

Bob the Father

Cedella: If we did anything wrong, Bob would discipline us then I would pout and we would end up at Oopsidoo, the ice cream joint in Jamaica. Our make up was a burger called the Six Million Dollar Man and a milkshake. He was away a lot touring, but when he came home , he loved to play with us. It was runs on the beach, three miles in the hot sand, he was always like, “Keep up!”

Ky-Mani: He came up with me from the country with my older brother Stephen and a friend of his, and mama, and we went up into the hills in Nine Miles. Stephen went out into the bushes to shoot a slingshot and I remember losing mine and Stephen telling me I was going to get into trouble. I remember walking up to dad and telling him thinking, I’m going to get into trouble. And I remember him just smiling.

Rohan: I kicked football with him, I sat in the studio with him. He forced us to drink nastyvegetable juice and eat properly. Now I’m older, I appreciate it!

Ziggy: I first satin the studio with him when I was 10. He taught me music, he taught me discipline, hard work and to always try your best.

Damian: I was two when he died. I used to have a little record player and every night before I would go to bed I would pretend to perform one of his songs. I was looking up to my father as a little kid.

Bob the Icon

Rohan: I saw him as a Superdad. Bob my father is the same man as Bob the icon. I learnt from him, the way he carried himself, the way he treated people, what he ate.

Cedella: There are moments when I am listening to his music and it hits me. I have to think, Hey, that’s my dad.

Ky-Mani: He influenced my entire life, what he stood for. That’s why he influences people who never met or knew him. I don’t feel a pressure, I love challenges and my father’s legacy is a challenge. My dad is my dad, he just happened to be a legend.

Damian: Pressure? I remember one time I was singing a song about adult affairs didn’t take to that kind because I was Bob Marley’s son and I should be more respectful and thankful. It didn’t stop me. There’s more things in life that are more pressure than being Bob Marley’s son.

Bob The Musician

Ziggy: When Exodus was released, my father wasn’t a huge star in Jamaica. It was not like in Europe. In Jamaica you have musicians, not stars. He was a roots man. Bob made music and from that we got a vibe for a revolution, it meant more than stardom.

Cedella: I heard Exodus around the time it came out. I was only a child and I was scared of it. The name was so big, like it could create a coup. . My dad took all the risks you can , because this record could start a revolution. The attempt on his life angered him, that came across in the songs. He was ready to go to war with whomever, whenever and wherever.

Rohan: But Exodus also speaks about love, about jamming, about people getting together, about the woman. Exodus is a full circle.

Ky-Mani: I’ve listened to James Brown speak of my father, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, we’re talking about the greats that have been influenced.

Bob The Message

Rohan: Bob wanted unity. People who listen to my father’s music have no prejudice, they love everyone and they break the barriers of colour, of woman and man. It is important to spread my father’s message. Tuff Gong clothing is my way. My dad’s music is the spirit and the clothing is the flesh. I capture the silhouette of my father in the fit.

Cedella: If we can tap into areas outside of music, we can get dad’s message to even more people. There is Tuff Gong Books, Tuff Gong Pictures, where we release documentaries, and my clothing line Catch A Fire. Bob has 48 grandchildren. He’ll be around for a long, long, long time.

Ky-Mani: I see children in Bob Marley t-shirts. I have children reciting entire songs to me so they will teach their children the same and so on.. It will never end. The message will be relevant forever.

Damian: I feel I have to spread that message. I don’t feel because it is his message but because the message is needed. It needs to be heard

 

Keeping It aBlaze

%d bloggers like this: