Sunday April 23, 2017
Bread in the oven bakin'! Virtual Trouser eats with its gun, sleeps with its gun. It even cleans its teeth with its gun.
And this time, inspired by a visit to YAAM1, Berlin's African and Caribbean-flavoured independent space and beach club (ideally located on the banks of the Spree next to Ostbahnhof Station), I&I give it some righteous ras in the company of dub poet and visiting professor Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ) and original singjay Eek-A-Mouse.
With his unique Jamaican patios delivered over some serious dub reggae courtesy of Dennis 'Blackbeard' Bovell, LKJ's work constituted a "cultural weapon" in the racial powderkeg that marked the early days of 'Thatcher's bloody Britain'.
A forerunner of today's rappers, LKJ was so influential that he became only the second living poet to feature in the Penguin Modern Classics series2.
Crucial tracks include Inglan is a Bitch, Street 66, Di Black Petty Booshwah, Lorraine and Bass Culture (from the album of the same name).
After those, check out the harrowing Sonny's Lettah, an anti-SUS (stop and search) poem in which the said Sonny writes to his mother from Brixton prison after giving a babylon some licks in self-defence.
In a similar vein comes arguably LKJ's best number, Reggae Fi Peach, a tribute to the New Zealand teacher Blair Peach, who was killed by the Metropolitan Police's Special Patrol Group (SPG) during the 1979 Anti-Nazi protests in London's Southall3.
Peach's death and the related SPG attack on Clarence Baker of reggae collective Misty In Roots, which put Baker in a coma for five months, also inspired Jah War by punk band the Ruts (of Babylon's Burning fame).
The 2 Tone Records' album The 2 Tone Story is also dedicated to Peach.
RUDE BOY JAMAICAN
Eek-A-Mouse, meanwhile, is also famous for his distinctive toasting, this time in a bing-bing-biddy-boing-boing scatman style.
In partnership with top dub producers Linval Thompson (of Trojan Records) and Henry 'Junjo' Lawes (tragically shot dead in a drive-by in north London in 1999), the six-foot-six-inch Mouse released a string of classic tracks throughout the 1980s and is still going strong today.
Anarexol, Juicy Juicy Weedy Weedy, Peeni Walli, Wild Like a Tiger, Assassinator, Terrorists in the City, the excellent Noah's Ark and the NT anthem Rude Boy Jamaican are all guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Ganja Smuggling, on the other hand, while a classic example of the Mouse's trademark vocal style, is probably not the best tune to start singing as you go through customs.
Unless, of course, you want a rubber glove rammed up your bottom.
So, bearing that in mind, stick your beenie hat on, eat some jerk chicken and praise Jah – it's time to feel Irie!
And while you're doing that, courtesy of the YouTube channels of 833P and Denino1234, respectively, here's Reggae Fi Peach followed by Rude Boy Jamaican. Fite dem back!
The original version of this article first appeared in Point Blank Poznan. Cheers, Steg. Expect a drum of radish pulp anytime soon.
See also Virtual Trouser knows the score, posted 7/6/12.
1) The Young African Artists' Market (YAAM) is currently under threat from the ongoing expansion of the Mediaspree property development. YAAM's German-language website can be viewed by clicking this. YAAM must survive in Berlin!
2) Several LKJ poetry collections have been published but the book in question is Mi Revalueshanary Fren.
3) Read more about the Blair Peach case here.
Top: Illustration by Ignatius Rake using original images by Porcupiny; and unknown/the Guardian.
Bottom and thumb: Original image by Jimmy Flink; rejigged by Ignatius Rake.
For licensing information click the above links.
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