“Poverty Is Created By Man, Not By God”- Anthony B

Anthony B hates poverty

Anthony B: One of the versatile Jamaican musicians known for his quest for justice and equal rights

“Poverty, talking about suffering, I don’t even have words to explain it because this is the way we live. It is part of our lives that we never try to eliminate it.” – Anthony B.

Anthony Keith Blair, popularly known as Anthony B, is one of Jamaican globetrotting versatile musicians and member of the Rastafari faith.

Usually on stage in African attire depicting his roots, and a staff in his hand, the energetic- reverb musician’s lyric reflects on poverty, injustice, and crime, giving hope and consolation to the downtrodden masses.

Once in Antwerp, Belgium, after entertaining the massive spectators at the venue ‘Petrol,’ I took the opportunity to talk to Anthony B, about his life and music.

“Poverty, talking about suffering, I don’t even have words to explain it, because this is the way we live. It is part of our lives that we never try to eliminate it. We always have to remember our roots, as Burning Spear said. For me, there is too much suffering in the world. People live rich, while others live in poverty, yet no one cares. This was created by a man, not God. This is what ‘Mr. Heartless’ is about,” says Anthony B.

You were born Anthony Keith Blair. Did changing your name to Anthony B, enhance your success as a musician?

Not really but growing up in music in Jamaica as an artist, you need to find a name for yourself. I’m oriented African with an English name, so I made it Anthony B.

Anthony B speaks about his experience in Gambia

I have been to Senegal and Gambia. First and foremost, the reality as an African, I respect my culture. There was an incidence during my visit to Gambia as my visa expired the same day I was leaving.

I was at the airport when I was told the Gambia police were looking for me to be deported to Jamaica. It was a silly thing to know that you have been to the continent of your origin, but haven’t enough days to see the people. All these problems were created by political leaders.

If you want a visa to the Gambia you have to go to England first. They have to remove all these political barriers. I remember a friend from Accra, Ghana, who was deported from Germany to Jamaica because he claimed to be Jamaican.

He doesn’t know anyone in Jamaica. Luckily he had my number. He had to call me to help him because we are all Africans.

Versatile Jamaican reggae star Anthony B

Joel Savage speaks to Anthony B

Do you want to know more about other reggae stars, including Anthony B, whose conscious and mythical music has stolen the heart of music lovers around the globe? Get a copy of ‘The Passion Of Reggae And African Music,’ available at https://www.amazon.com/Passion-Reggae-African-Music-ebook/dp/B013L9A1JQ

How Lucky Dube’s Music Reflects On The Existence Of Today’s Racially Violent World

Lucky Dube lost his life in a 'Crazy World' a song he sang before his death

‘Crazy World’ : Lucky Dube’s music is rapidly revealing violence and killings in today’s racially violent world

What Sort Of World Are We Inviting Our Children Into?

“Everywhere in the world, people are fighting for freedom, nobody knows what is right, nobody knows what is wrong. The black man says it’s the white man, the white man says it’s the black man. Indians say it’s the coloreds, coloreds say it’s everyone,” sings South African reggae legend, Lucky Dube, in a racial tension song called ‘War and Crime.’

This is a perfect song that lyrics describe the events of today’s racial chaotic world in Europe and America. The world is increasingly becoming so dangerous that we need to ask ourselves: What sort of world are we inviting our children into? And what sort of future are we building for them in this racially bitter society?

Years after slavery, the relationship between African-Americans and Americans remain very poor. After the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, in regards to Rodney King, many thought things will improve but recent shootings of police officers to death, evidently reveals that there isn’t any imminent peace near between African-Americans and Americans. “How long is this gonna last, cause we’ve come so far so fast,”- asked Lucky Dube, the South African reggae legend.

Lucky Dube continued “I’ m not saying this because I’m a coward, but I’m thinking of the lives that we lose every time we fight. Killing innocent people, women and children yeah,” reflecting on last week’s events of the senseless massacre of innocent people in Nice, France, as a truck plowed through Bastille Day crowd, killing 84 people, including children.

Bastille Day crowd killings in Nice, France

Nice, France, as a truck plowed through Bastille Day crowd, killing 84 people, including children. Two young women laying flowers for the victims.

Children are usually caught up in racially motivated crimes and violence, yet they are not responsible for any of them. But many times influenced by the crimes surrounding them and what they watch on the television, they grow up to be racists and criminals. Actually, a child is never born a racist, adults, and harsh environmental experience influenced them.

World leaders, schools, and parents have a huge task  to create a happy and safe environment for our children: “We should bury down apartheid, racism, discrimination and fight down war and crime,” Lucky Dube advised.

Brief Overview Of The Life And Poetic Music Of Linton Kwesi Johnson

Poetic musician LKJ

Linton Kwesi Johnson: Internationally bestselling artist, reggae poet, and activist

Linton Kwesi Johnson is one of the most internationally renowned Jamaican artists whose work is expressed in a “dub poetry” form using the patois of the Jamaican dialect.

His message, ideology, and philosophy are similar to that of Mutabaruka. The only difference is, as a dub poet, although Rasta is important to him on the level of a cultural force that broadened and opened the consciousness to African heritage and African ancestry, he is not a Rastafarian.

Born on 24 August 1952 in Chapelton, Jamaica, Johnson came to London at the age of 11 to live with his mother. Like most Jamaican artists he holds on fast to his African culture. His middle name “Kwesi” broadly establishes his identity as someone holding on to the roots of his African origin. The name comes from the Western part of Africa. For example in Ghana, the Akans and the Fantis named male babies born on Sundays as “Kwesi” and females as “Esi” because Sunday is called”Kwesidah”

In England, LKJ went to school at Tulse Hill secondary school, Goldsmith’s College and the University of London. He joined the Black Panthers while still at school. “That’s where I learned my politics and about my history and culture. That is where I discovered black literature, particularly the work of W.E. B. Dubois, the Afro-American who inspired me to write poetry”, said LKJ.

In 1977, he was awarded the C-Day Lewis Fellowship, becoming the writer-in-residence and working at the Library Resources and Education officer at Keskidee Centre, the first home of black theatre and art. As a poet, his first collection of poetry “Voice of the Living and Dead” and “Dread Beats an’ Blood” were published by the Race Today Review and later the same year, a documentary film on “Dread Beat an’ Blood” was made. In 1980, Race Today Review published his third book “Inglan is a Bitch”.

“If Association of Chief Police Officers, has come out and admitted that, racism is institutionalised within the police force, that the black nurses within the health service for years have gotten a raw deal. When one thinks of all these things, yeah, Inglan is a Bitch,” said LKJ.

As an artist, LKJ travelled extensively from Japan to South Africa and from Europe to Brazil. His poetry songs are amongst the top-selling Reggae albums in the world and his works have been translated into Italian and German.

His live concert, recorded at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London 1985, was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2004, his own recording company was delighted to launch the first ever DVD of an LKJ concert. He has been in the music business as a recording artist for over twenty-five years.

The Throbbing Reggae World Of Aswad

British reggae group Aswad

The dynamic reggae group Aswad

Formed around 1974 in London, the group Aswad was one of many bands that emerged during the fertile period in British reggae music. Deriving its name from the Arabic word for “black,”the group initially performed with five members. In addition to mainstay Angus “Drummie Zeb”Gaye on drums and vocals, the band included George “Ras Levi” Oban, Courtney Hemmings, Donald “Benjamin” Griffiths, and Brinsley “Dan” Forde on lead vocals.

Forde was perhaps the best-known of the members at the time of the band’s formation. As a child actor, he had appeared in several British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programs. Over the years, the group’s lineup would change several times. By the 1990’s, Aswad was a trio consisting of Gaye and Forde, joined by Tony Gad after 1980 on bass. In the late 1990’s, however, Forde also left the band, and Aswad carried on as a duo.

After 25 years and two dozen albums, Britain-based Aswad has become of one reggae’s institutions. Not only has the band outlasted almost every other band to emerge from the vibrant London reggae scene of the 1970’s, it has also survived numerous personnel changes over the years. The group even avoided the pitfalls of succumbing to its own success; after securing a number one single, Aswad continued to develop its style regardless of its presence on the charts.

Aswad band

Aswad has played all around the world including Belgium: Photo with Joel Savage

Known for its energetic live shows, the band has also sustained its popularity with an extensive tour schedule in Europe, Japan, and the Americas. For its longevity alone, Aswad ranks among the most notable reggae bands, as well as one of the most commercially successful.

Developed in Jamaica from the 1960’s onward, reggae mixed traditional Caribbean rhythms, a prominent bass line, and often socially profound lyrics with elements of American jazz and R&B. In Britain, where many of the island’s immigrants had settled after World War II, independent record companies brought the latest reggae releases to Jamaican expatriates.

By the mid 1960’s homegrown British reggae bands, such as the Cimarons, had sprung up among the immigrants and their children. Largely ignored by commercial radio and the major records labels, it was not until the mid 1970’s that reggae began to be heard on a significant scale outside of the Anglo-Jamaican community in Britain.

Aswad’s previous experimentation with jazz fusion, R&B, and various Jamaican styles had led some critics to question their commitment as bona-fide reggae artists. The band’s breakthrough success in 1988 seemed to confirm this skepticism. Taking a tune co-written by prolific American songwriter Diane Warren—best known at the time for penning hits by De-Barge, Laura Branigan, and Michael Bolton—Aswad’s version of “Don’t Turn Around” hit number one on the singles chart in Britain in early 1988.

The group followed the chart-topper with another hit co-authored by Warren, the top 20 single “Give a Little Love.” In similar fashion, Aswad’s 1988 album Distant Thunder hit the top ten on the album charts in Britain.

My experience with Aswad is shared in the book ‘The Passion Of Reggae And African Music.’: https://goo.gl/ks8vFp

The Amazon.com page of the group: https://www.amazon.com/Aswad/e/B000APWK4E/

How Can Reggae Star Buju Banton Handle His Music Career After Prison Experience?

Buju Banton will be back to be more famous

Jailed Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton

It was emotional, sad and mental torture to many music lovers around the world, when despite pleas for leniency from musicians, fans, supporters and family members, a federal judge sentenced Grammy-winning reggae singer Buju Banton to 10 years in prison for conspiring to set up a cocaine deal.

This was a news many weren’t expecting because Rastafarians often speak against such things in music to educate the youth to desist from dangerous drugs. Thus, many still doubt if Buju was actually involved in such a deal.

The charges levelled against the musician were the conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.

At the end of his trial the federal judge gave the reggae star a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. This is not the first incident of a reggae star involved in drug scandal, thus; this should be a lesson to reggae icons and upcoming reggae stars to be careful in this hard music business because there are certain enemies ready to pull them down.

Shortly before his conviction in February, 2011, Buju Banton won a Grammy Award for his best reggae album entitled “Before the Dawn.” Banton will never die in prison. He will definitely come back but the question is: Can he successfully continue the works he left uncompleted?

I think he will be more successful to share his prison experience in his new music.

How Jimmy Cliff’s Vietnam Song Inspired Paul Simon To Record Mother And Child Reunion

Paul Simon and Jimmy Cliff

Inspired by Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Vietnam,’ Paul Simon recorded ‘Mother and Child Reunion’ with Cliff’s musicians in Jamaica.

The Vietnam War began in 1954. It was one of the longest, bloodiest and saddest wars in conflict history, between the communist regime of North Vietnam and its southern allies, known as the Viet Cong, against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. 

The war became an issue of concern to Americans and world leaders than any matter at that period because of those that lost their loved ones. Many American soldiers died. Not only world leaders were against the war but also some musicians.

Jimmy Cliff wrote and sang anti-war song called Vietnam. In the song Jimmy Cliff said “Yesterday, I got a letter from my friend fighting in Vietnam, And this is what he had to say “Tell all my friends that I’ll be coming home soon, My time’ll be up some time in June, Don’t forget”, he said, “To tell my sweet Mary, Her golden lips are sweet as cherry” And it came from Vietnam, Vietnam.”

“Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, It was just the next day, his mother got a telegram, It was addressed from Vietnam, Now mistress Brown, she lives in the USA, And this is what she wrote and said “Don’t be alarmed”, she told me the telegram said
“But mistress Brown your son is dead” And it came from Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, hey, Vietnam,Somebody please stop that war now.”

Inspired by Jimmy Cliff’s Vietnam song Paul Simon went to Jamaica and used Jimmy Cliff musicians to record ‘Mother and Child Reunion,’ and the cleverly-written song instantly became a hit expanding the fame of both Paul Simon and Jimmy Cliff.

A good music is not only entertaining, heartfelt and thrilling but the great stories behind them are sometimes exceptional and educative.

Mike Chahira: The Upcoming Reggae Star Using His Music To Fight Against Poverty And Street Children

Chahira 3

Mike Chahira: The upcoming Kenyan reggae star using music as a tool to keep children off the street and fighting against poverty.

Africa is a very tough continent plagued by corruption and poverty, with many children out of the classrooms. In an environment that many children suffer from depravity, hunger, disease, and abuse, the only way Mike Chahira think he could help the poor children is to make his voice heard through his music.

Born in Kenya, Mike, the upcoming reggae musician, according to him was inspired by the South Africa reggae legend, Lucky Dube. He was with a group called ‘Agugu Family’ for some time before he decides to go solo. Faced with many challenges, setbacks and his father’s opposition to his musical career, Mike rather focused on his career than giving up on his dreams.

In a society where it’s always difficult to get financial help to achieve your dreams, Mike’s effort to become an independent musician was like a rough journey to the top of mount Kilimanjaro. The video of his song ‘African child’ reveals the horrible, dangerous, unhealthy, and poor living conditions of African children.

Kenya is like other African countries that care less about the plight of children. It’s not clear at the moment the number of the high rate of Kenya’s street children, but  2012 Unicef report estimated that there were 250-300,000 homeless children in Kenya, most of them in the big cities.

On June 4, 2016, I had a word from Mike that he has added two new songs ‘Drugs’ and ‘Walla Colombo’ on the Youtube. ‘Drugs’ song speaks about drug abuse, its impact, and the destruction of the society, whilst in Walla Colombo, Mike expresses his sentiments on the controversy surrounding the Rasta religion and the negative perception given to Rastafarians in the society.

Watching the video of ‘Walla Colombo’ I can clearly see the big improvement in Mike’s singing career. Definitely, one day with a little hard effort the world would hear of a Kenya artist called Mike Charira.