Archive | May, 2010

Damage Control Riddim

26 May

Last week, as conflict increased in the Tivoli Gardens garrison and the Jamaican Police Force pressured residents to lower barricades blocking main arteries into the neighborhood as they pursued their hunt for “kingpin,” Christopher “Dudas” Coke, a fitting and somewhat ironic Juke Boxx riddim entitled “Damage Control” was released on the Dancehall.mobi digital music site. The riddim features tracks from a fiery Bounty Killer in suit with a pleading Busy Signal, a Buju Banton track that eerily foreshadows his recent incarceration, a guttural Elephant Man track with paranoid tendencies, amongst tracks from Spragga Benz, Wayne Marshall, Romain Virgo and Bunji Garlin. The three aforementioned tracks are the ones that particularly stuck with me as they seemed to have an obvious allegorical relationship to Jamaica’s current events.

As the events leading up to the holiday weekend seemed dire, it was wishful thinking for many of us that the situation would not escalate as quickly as it did Sunday afternoon, when Tivoli strongholds attacked numerous police stations in the area and police officers fired back. As a “State of Emergency” was called in the Kingston/St. Andrew area, Jamaicans held on to as many sources of information as possible as the media coverage seemed slow in yielding results and Twitter, newsradio and Facebook became the quickest way to obtain information. Sunday evening Prime Minister Bruce Golding addressed the nation in a four minute delivery that revealed very little and left the nation with no understanding as to what their current civil rights were under the “State of Emergency”– which subsequently would be revealed as close to null.

Bounty Killer & Busy Signal, “Summn a Guh Gwan”

As night turned over, a rumour spread that Dudas’ lawyer, Don Foote, had a scheduled meeting with the US Embassy at 10:00 AM Monday morning to discuss a possible negotiation that would bypass Coke’s Jamaican rights and carry him straight to the US for trial. To some this seemed like a very clever agreement as Coke’s father, the notorious and well-loved Kingston Shower Posse leader, Jim Brown (aka Lester Lloyd Coke), was burnt alive in a Jamaican prison cell in 1992 after his US extradition-provoked capture. By noon Monday afternoon the US embassy was denying any meeting with Coke’s lawyer, Foote, by 12:30 PM I had received a courtesy phone call from the US embassy, and by 1:00 PM army forces had entered the Tivoli neighborhood in search for “Dudas.”

Buju Banton, “Let Dem Know”

As the infiltration and takeover of Tivoli Gardens by forces proved true, the reported dead varied, due mostly to the fact that government officials only revealed details on those military officers and police force members that had been shot, injured or killed. Meanwhile reports were being made from inside Tivoli Gardens by residents that people were being shot, killed, burnt and bombed as one woman cried out on Nationwide News 90.3 from her land line in Tivoli, “Please help us!” By Tuesday, the numbers of civilians killed in the operation was rising from a possible mid-twenties mark to a more likely mid-forties mark with many more being held with no lights, food, or communication from outside. As news went international, speculation was made by some US and British correspondents that Prime Minister Bruce Golding had linkages to Christopher “Dudas” Coke that were much stronger then any previously had suspected (or wanted to acknowledge). Today one media outlet in the UK, Channel 4 News, questioned Jamaica’s High Commissioner to London, Jon Snow, if the allegations against Bruce Golding were true, but failed to receive any straight forward response.

Elephant Man, “Don’t Trust Dem”

While the policy framework of Jamaica has been jostled by this weeks events, the people are experiencing an overwhelming depression as they sit and watch the news with anxiety about what will happen next. Today, political forces are asking that heads roll, petitioning a most wanted list for some of Jamaica’s most well-known garrison and gang leaders. Meanwhile, Christopher “Dudas” Coke is still unaccounted for and Tivoli Gardens is in shambles. Allegations against the legitimacy of Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s political office are being made by international media and tomorrow, I head back to work. The Damage Control riddim was likely not intentionally clocked, however it is an example of the consistent expression of the issues that Jamaicans face. Even more so it’s a dark narrative on the underlying conversation of today’s current situation: extreme poverty and lack of jobs, neglect from government aid, a push towards violence for survival and a mistrust of the protective forces. A conversation that should be listened to closely and with gravity.

And sadly today another unfortunate death occurred in the midst of chaos. R.I.P. Oneil Edwards from Voicemail who was taken down by senseless violence early May.

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Vybz Kartel, “Teach Dem”

19 May

Yesterday, a Vybz Kartel track called “Teach Dem,” from the Izes produced Ignite riddim, popped up on the radar. Other then the fact that the riddim sounds like they used a futuristic drum machine from the mid-nineties to make the beat– something I’m not hating on– Kartel does his usual lady loving smack down using lines like, “you without me is straight stupidity, it’s like a man who do a riddim and he don’t nuh the key.” Nice to have a new “wine” song for the gyal dem.

Vybz Kartel, “Teach Dem”

MP3 Download: Vybz kartel, “Teach Dem” (via Jahkno.com)

Word A Prayer Riddim

19 May

Jamaica has had more then its share of chaos already this week as Monday morning began with rumors that Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, was headed towards resignation (follow Jamaica Observer or Gleaner for the backstory if you missed this mega-moment.) If that wasn’t jolting enough, later that evening in a public address Golding asked for “forgiveness” and confirmed that the extradition request for Tivoli Gardens’ don, Christopher “Dudus” Coke, would be signed by Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne. Later that evening, Coke’s lawyer, Tom Tavares-Finson pleaded on Nationwide News that the innocent people of West Kingston be spared from unnecessary violence. Today, the Jamaican Observer photo-documented the blockading that has taken place at all crossroads leading to Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town since news spread that the extradition papers were to be signed this afternoon. In the spirit of the craziness that is taking place here in Jamaica, I thought the Word A Prayer Riddim might be an appropriate way to leave this topic open ended.

Demarco, “We Pray”

Get the entire Word A Prayer Riddim with Demarco, Jah Vinci, ZJ Liquid, Bugle and I-Octane on Itunes June 1st.

Natalie Storm, “Play Di Ting” (The Heatwave Refix)

14 May

The good folks over at The Heatwave blog have dropped a refix of the Natalie Storm “Play Di Ting”, a track which was originally featured on the Worker riddim produced by UK funky producer, Footsteps. Track has a nice bounce vibe to it. You can get it here and listen to it below.

Natalie Storm, “Play Di Ting” (The Heatwave Refix)

Di Genius Summer Tracks

14 May

It appears that Di Genius and Ricky Blaze are taking the reigns as the conquistadors of summer jams, especially considering their new transcontinental track with fellow McGregor bro, Chino, called, “Money Around.” I first heard the collaboration between Blaze and Di Genius (two of the youngest and most talented producers in dancehall) earlier this week while away in “country” as it was dropped in alongside new Di Genius track “Nah Forgive Dem”–a sequel to his winter jam, “Cyaan Fren Again”– on ZIP Fm.

Di Genius, “Nah Forgive Dem”

Ricky Blaze, Chino & Di Genius, “Money Around”

Two Cents: A week in dancehall

14 May

This week has been more then trying on the nerves of Jamaica’s general populous. With Imagelala, I try refraining from political commentary, as the blog is intended to be more of an emerging music site then a culture zine. However, Jamaican politics is deeply interlinked in dancehall music. Sometimes it emerges as a lulling hum of conversation, lyricism, and banter and at other times it’s as crippling as a bullhorn in bed. This week has led to the latter as two artistes were shot down and hospitalized within 24 hours of each other, adding to the growing anxiety of the public as there seems to be an epidemic of killings occurring across the entire nation. Numerous Jamaicans were brutally murdered last week– including, and not limited to, community leaders, children, a mother of five and a peace organizer. Some people have responded violently, some with prayer, some with anger but almost all are looking for a direction to vent their frustration.

In the midst of all this, Drake introduced a new music video for “Find Your Love” that details the gritty underbelly of Jamaican gun culture in a time when no one really wants to be reminded of how gritty the grit could get. Instantaneously, the bad timing catapulted co-star Mavado in a light that he’s been deviating cautiously from for months now– Mavado hasn’t written a “gun” song since “War is in the Air” dropped last December. It made me wonder if the screenwriter/director had a relationship with dancehall, Jamaican culture or even singjay Mavado. More then that it made me wonder if the video was a manifestation of Drake’s eagerness to prove his weight in the American rap scene, as he has been and is often criticized for being too “soft.” This isn’t really the point though. The video itself is not the epicenter of the issue, it is just an overly romanticized side effect. The real issue is that Jamaica is at war. Whether it be a violent act against an artiste or community member or child, the violence is blinding. The most significant dancehall-related question right now is, where does dancehall and the dancehall community take part or how does it react?

The responses have been various. A prayer meeting was set up in Half Way Tree after the shooting of Voicemail’s Oneil Edwards last week and artistes came out to support the cause and stir up conversation about change. On the other end, the dancehall critics are quick to blame the violence on dancehall’s gun culture and its often trigger-happy content, warning artistes that Jamaican youth seem to be listening with open ears and even more open minds. Specifically, there has been some talk of a “fight for peace” from the Mavado camp and the Peace Management Initiative. Still, the riddle never really unfolds as the dancehall industry is suffering from the same problems as our governments: bipartisan politics and personal agendas. It would be naive and optimistic to believe that these issues can be eradicated, but a glimmer of hope lies in the fact that people are talking, actions (however little) are being taken, the bullhorn is blowing.

Stein, “Swear Fi Har”

6 May

Wanted to take a little time out to mention Alliance artiste and deejay, Stein– otherwise know as Einstein– who has maintained a steady career incline over the last year (although a bit on the periphery). Proving himself with features like “Tek Weh” on the World Premiere riddim and a decent track called “Gal Wine” on the Hold Yuh riddim, he’s still often eclipsed by larger more glossy artistes on riddims. That doesn’t stop Stein from pushing on with patient meditation. He just released a “girl trouble” track produced by High Voltage called “Swear Fi Har” about tricky girls and trickier situations. Listen to it below:

Stein, “Swear Fi Har”

One of my favorite slept on tracks of his was off the Style and Swagger riddim (the one for which Tifa’s “Boasy Wit It” dropped), called “Stronger”:

Stein, “Stronger”

Also for those interested, Mavado’s sister Joey has started a career in music and did a single called “Fantasy” with Stein. Peep it here.