Eric Donaldson’s “Land of My Birth” 1978 Jamaica Festival Popular Song Contest winner. Listen while you read!
O how I wish I never had to leave The Rock’s shores but I did and that’s that…but mi neva run weh and mi nah and nevah fling no stone back ah mi! Now for my own piece/peace of mind, I’ve finally accepted my decision. Sometimes, though, I have vivid recollection of August 18, 1998 as I sat on the Air Jamaica flight to NY and stared unseeing onto to the active tarmac…
In 2010 a lot happened in Jamaica, much of it not positive. However, there’s plenty of time to revisit those things, dissect them, and find solutions so right now I’m going to celebrate a few things from and about the land of my birth!
Of course, I am thinking of some Jamaican music and right now I’m loving Protoje a young Jamaican artist with a lot of support. His mother is Lorna Bennett (she of “Breakfast in Bed“) and also she’s his vigilant manager and sometimes background singer. I’m pleased with the strong fan base that Protoje enjoys and is building (follow him! @protoje). My favourites of his released material are “Arguments” and “JA,” which actually reminds me of Mr. Donaldson’s song above. His songs paint vivid pictures and tell poignant stories…effortless style and just good reggae. Love it. Check out @dremaican‘s post about Protoje’s “The Seven Year Itch” Sampler, which is in anticipation of the 2011 release of the artist’s album of the same name.
On the flip side of this easy going sound is Natalie Storm’s mixtape, which was released earlier this month. Songs 2 Fuck & Fight 2 is a dizzy ride through many genres of music – dancehall, house, reggae, grime! Just be prepared when you listen. With few exceptions the mixtape does not disappoint (I’m not a fan of “Dung Deh” and “Nuh Teki Back”). Stand out songs for me are “Fuck you Song”, “Running” (featuring Tifa), “What a Bam Bam”, “Take My Brain Away” and “Boys for Breakfast.” I also like “Boys for Breakfast” (the sound effects alone!), “Feel Up” (21st century wutliss bwoy), and “Hotta’” (‘some gyal nuh hot like mi granny pantee”). She’s also a good live performer. Another female artist that’s growing on me is Tifa. Her latest “Move Your Body” won me over (not too keen on the vid but like the song). Plus I keep hearing that Tifa works hard and just keeps going; I hope she puts all the pieces together and reaps some rewards. So, it’s good to see some young Jamaican ladies doing well on the music scene. Yep they’re on twitter – @nataliestorm & @tifamusic.
In early @top5jamaica flashed across my timeline with news that Karen Hutchinson - @jaculture – would begin providing tours of Kingston. Jamaican Cultural Enterprises will transform folks into “Kingston City Explorers” taking them to those “places you pass every day and you don’t necessarily know about them” and to artists and art galleries. I remember a Geography class field trip that included visits to several spots in downtown Kingston that fascinated me + I’ve listened to many stories from Daddy about what Kingston used to be. I’m excited to take one of these tours because there’s so much about Jamaica that I don’t know or haven’t seen. There’s much more to Jamaica than beaches, sun, dancehall, weed, and Bob Marley! Yeah, I said it.
Now Yahdie Conscious has been on my radar for a little while now. When I lived in NYC I attended their launch show in Brooklyn. I was impressed with the ladies’ hustle, there’s no other way to describe it: Jami & Jaye-Ann decided to pursue their fashion passion and have stuck with it. They worked hard for that show and everything that followed. I liked their T-Shirt designs so much that I bought a shirt & wore it that night. Now that I’m a little older *smile* I don’t think many of the designs are for me but every once in a while I see something I like and would love to buy. Now that they have an online store maybe I’ll be able to nab a few pieces :) Follow ‘em on twitter too – @yahdieconscious.
These ladies and gentlemen are but a sample of the positive, fun, good things happening in Jamaica. We really need to highlight the positive more often because it’s not all about May 24, 2010, the one-eyed bandit and his 59 accomplices in Gordon House, a declining economy, horrible crime, and a damaged environment. Jamaica is, for me, still about the will, spirit and ingenuity of its people, who, even in the face of a lot of crap still manage to make it through each day and into the next. We soldier on. Continuously calling attention to negativity only provides a breeding ground for more negativity. I harbor no illusions about the state of the country but it’s time to change our approach.
There is hope in Jamaica. Whenever I tell someone I’m from Jamaica one of the first things I usually hear is “O the people are so warm.” We still got it. Now we just have to get it right.
Happy New Year *raises glass of Bailey’s with ice*