West Indies to East Indies – a musical journey with Delhi Sultanate

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “We wont bow to the colonial slave master nor their principle no time at all, that is why we have reggae music. Reggae music don’t only mean seh you sing and dance and put on red, gold and green or nothing like that.. nuttin nu gu soh” SIzzla Kalonji, 2015 [/pullquote]

 

10702073_394621287355771_5377366647846890687_nReggae music originated in the former slave plantation and Carribean island of Jamaica. To date, it is the only form of popular music that, has a former colony at its center, addresses issues of colonialism and opposes the Euro-centric Babylonian world order, while at the same time enjoying immense popularity all over the world – from Japan and Sweden to Alaska and the Unitied States of America. A lot of reggae music is inspired by Rastafarian religion and utilizes the colours Red, Gold & Green, found in many African flags, as well as the first Indian national flag.

A lot of my early political education came from Hip Hop and Reggae music. It is true that sections of the music can be violently homophobic at times and this is problematic. It’s a contradiction, it’s music from a troubled former colony. However, in my opinion, the regressive elements of parts of the culture do not take away from the radical and uplifting message at the heart of what is now a global movement. In this space, I will curate short play lists over the next months consisting of some of my favorite songs, along with lyrics. Reggae can be hard to understand for the untrained ear because in place of the standard English, which in Jamaica’s well as in India was imposed by its former colonial master, it expresses itself in the street creole of the ghetto, or as its stalwart Buju Banton calls it ‘Outlish’; for we speak out, not in. Bounty Killer referred to this dialect as ‘Ghetto Gramma’. Reggae music has a massive and ever expanding catalogue and many subgenres. From Roots Reggae and Dub to Ska, Rocksteady and modern Dancehall. I will attempt to present a cross section of tracks. Here is the first installment. A word of caution before you press play – bass is the main melodic element in a lot of reggae songs. This music was originally not built for individual consumption over headphones or computer speakers, but for giant sound systems and communal listening sessions where the bass was intended to vibrate people’s bodies and make us dance in unison. A lot of reggae songs that appear gentle at first listen, reveal a militant subtext in the form of strong basslines when played over proper sound systems. Therefore, you are advised to listen to these songs somewhere with bass. As Asian Dub Foundation bassist Dr. Das says, “don’t be part of bass-less society”. If you are interested to know more.. wait for the next installment and in the meantime listen to my radio show every week on www.dubforceradio.com every Wednesday at 10:30 IST. Here are some past shows from the archives

 

  1. Chronixx – Capture Land

Chronixx is a rising star, who has been challenging the Reggae scene  in the past years. His song ‘Here comes trouble’ crossed over into US pop charts. ‘Capture Land’ was released last year. Listen below for lyrics and radical politics from this young and gifted artist. Chronixx describes the America’s as captured land, in interviews he explained this song and went step further, encouraging people to thief and capture land in their own right. “Why should we pay for it?”

 

 

“Capture Land”

 

And I say Dread and Terrible pon dem

Good god of grace, well I have his mercy

And me say old slave driver

Time is catching up on you

Old slave driver I know your sins dem a haunt you

 

[Chorus:]

Carry we go home, Carry we go home

And bring we gone a east

Cause man a rasta man

And rasta nuh live pon no capture land

Carry we go home

An mek we settle and seize

Cause man a rasta man

And rasta nuh live pon no capture land

 

Lord America a capture land

Di whole a Jamaica a capture land

A long time dem wah trick the rasta man

Like dem nuh know say man a real African

Yuh tink me nuh rememba King Ferdinand

And thiefing Columbus have a Golden plan

Dem make a wrong turn and end up in the Caribbean

One rass genocide kill nuff Indian

Lord Fi turn paradise in a plantation

And bring cross one ship load a African

No hear comes the thiefing Queen from England

No she Cromwell and Henry Morgan

Century pon top a century full a sufferation

And after four hundred year mi say no reparation

And now dem wah fi kill we wid the taxation

But a beg you please take me to the mother land

 

[Chorus]

 

Watch dem pon di top a di hill

A look inna dem plate how it proper and fill

Because down town have shotta fi kill

Dem tell the tourist say fi stop a Negril

So come mek we start a new chapter

We nah stay pon di land weh dem capture

A me say Africa fi all true rasta

A say go tell di unscrupulous factors say

 

[Chorus]

 

Cherry Garden a capture land

Me tell you Shortwood a capture land

Los Angeles dat a capture land

And New York City dat a capture land

East some a di place weh you wah go live sweet

A thiefing land there’s no title fi it

And some a these place weh you want go live nice

A thief dem thief it in the name of Christ

Spanish Town dat a capture land

The whole a Kingston dat a capture land

Remember Portland dat a capture land

And all down a Trinidad dat a Capture land

Barbados dat a capture land

Tell dem Bermuda dat a Capture land

And tell Columbia dat a Capture land

All round a Cuba dat a Capture land

 

  1. Bounty Killer – Anytime

 

Bounty Killer originally hails from the ghetto of Seaview in Kingston. He is an icon of Dancehall culture, churning out consistent hits since the early 90’s. Over the years Bounty Killer has frequently courted controversy and songs of his have been banned from airwaves in Jamaica. Critics have accused Bounty Killer of glorifying gun culture. His lyrics and style can be aggressive and many of his songs indulge in gun-talk. Nevertheless, his uncompromising lyrics have earned him the title “poor people governor’ in Jamaica. ‘Anytime’, released in 1999 was criticized heavily and banned from some radio stations for the line “Anytime, you’re hungry again let them see the 9 (9 mm handgun)”, which was interpreted as a direct call to arms against the state.

 

Lyrics:

Jack ass, unno nuh tired fi pressure poor people?

Well, Babatunde have a message fi you

You see? Alright

Never let your problems get you down

Gotta stay focused and hold your ground

Though it seems hopeless

There is no progress

Wi still a hustle ’round town

We do what we do so we stay alive

We sell what we sell so we haffi survive

Wi tired a the fuckry and wi fed up from ’bout 95

So, tell them seh anytime

Mi hungry again them a guh si mi nine

Police outta road seh them a fight crime

And holiday a come and mi nuh si the first dime

Tell them seh anytime

The government policies a undermine

Poor people plight that a sure sign

Corruption and war a guh reach it’s prime

So, tell them seh anytime

Mi hungry again them a guh si mi nine

Police outta road seh them a fight crime

And holiday a come and mi nuh si the first dime

Tell them seh anytime

The government policies a undermine

Poor people plight that a sure sign

Corruption and war a guh reach it’s prime

Imagine after mi try my best fi survive the street

Sometimes mi wonder how some people do it

‘Nuff time it burn mi, mamma clean dirty floor

So the kids can eat

Five christmas now mi don’t drink nuh sorrel

Landlord and mamma deh a courthouse a quarrel

Chin a send a cris chrome nine inna a barrel

What you expect me to do

Them ramp with wi future wi take it wid a smile

A we feel the pinch now when everything spoil

Poverty and hunger a nuh easy lifestyle

Wi tired and wi tired, and wi tired

  1. Burning Spear – days of slavery

Burning Spear is one of the great Rastafarian artists of our times, His songs and stage persona are deeply spiritual while at the same time expressing militant politics. This song from the 1970’s brings back to memory the original black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey.

  1. Cornel Campbell – my country

This song questions the concept of nation states, of borders and frontiers and restriction to people’s movement on the planet. “Some people say I don’t have the right to say it’s my country.

  1. Sizzla – No White God

Expect to hear a lot of Sizzla tunes in this column. This man took the reggae world by storm in the 90’s and has consistently churned out conscious music until the present time. Sizzla has some 60 albums under his belt. While some have criticized his prolific output, and no doubt the music he has released is of varying quality. At the best of times, SIzzla songs combine carefully crafted lyrics with raw emotion and a message of total resistance to the present day incarnation of the colonial slave master regime. This song utilizes the instrumental or riddim of Bob Marley’s song One Drop. More on Sizzla in the next installment.

Lyrics:

Intro

Don’t seduce to reduce my knowledge,

because I will always break those barriers and break down bondage

oh Lord God Almighty grant me all privilige

you see I have overcome all the wicked,

them and them false things

Chorus

I have no white god

don’t teach me anything wrong

could the white god save me from white man oppression?

I have no white god it’s just a Black Messiah,

if a white god ah bless you him no bless Sizzla

 

Verse 1

I want what is rightfully mine

so me nah stay mute

your system is designed to distract me from the truth

but it will come to pass unknown not to the youths

in the process of time we will know the truth

you give we white god to praise in slavery

the doctrine follow on in the black community

the Black Messiah you try to shield with fantasy,

but we nah guh make you destroy the love with luxury

that’s why,

have to go through I have no place in Babylon

as I go they make mi victim of their unjust action oh God

I won’t be conquered in this region oh yes

I have to stand and go strong

 

Chorus

Verse 2

Ooh mi face contort with anger cause that no right

how could all things good and valuable must be white? cho!

what about the black that did the most in life?

You and you white supremacy want treat me as you…

you change the version of the Bible, who you a trick?

Rememba all who do evil won’t go unpunished

bear your inequity you have no wisdom nor wit

all evilous people shall sink in a abyss

 

Chorus (x2)

Verse 3

Cause when I and I ah trod its like Moses with the rod

with one strong backative Almighty Father God

He’s the only second party that Sizzla have

fi guide mi through the darkness weh the heathen dodge

there wasn’t any doubt but a voice yah made it shout,

Behold!

Jah Jah youth ah complete the route.

Chorus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Delhi Sultanate Written by:

Born in New Delhi, India but having spent formative years in Germany and the US (Bay Area), Delhi Sultanate, has long pioneered the sounds of Dancehall / Hip Hop and performance poetry in India. Alongside singer Begum X he is the lead singer of India's first Ska and Rocksteady band The Ska Vengers. He runs Bass Foundation Roots, a Jamaican style Reggae Sound system with a monthly night in Delhi and a weekly radio show on Dub Force Radio. In 2010 he started 'Word, Sound, Power' along with producer Chris McGuinness. The organization is dedicated to producing documentary films and musical collaborations featuring revolutionary singers from different parts of the Indian subcontinent. The films can be viewed on wordsoundpower.org, where all the music is available for free download! Apart from his musical pursuits Delhi Sultanate trains in traditional martial arts and holds a Masters degree in South Asian Area Studies as well as an MPHIL in Indian History.

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