Beware -> Tarrus Riley

been a long time now since I left Jamaica. one of the important lessons about living in developing countries is that I’ve learned how resource rich my life here is. it’s hard to be grateful sometimes. it’s easy to get vexed about trivial shit. but dammit at least I have a future filled with food, shelter and safety. that’s more than heaps of people have in Jamaica.

Jamaican music is a music of protest. I didn’t really understand that well until I’d lived there and learned to understand patois. many of Bob Marley’s songs are in patois and it’s funny to hear them played on advertising or at parties and people don’t understand how aggressive the lyrics are. or perhaps we don’t care, were oblivious to what’s happening outside of our culture.

but what Jamaican people may lack in resources they make up for with a passion for life and music. you can hear sound systems all over the island blasting the latest big tune. each month a new riddim will come out and every top dj will write lyrics and before long one or two or sometimes more versions of the riddim will be on everyone’s lips. taxis always blast the radio. in the country or in Town little kids rock and wine in front of the huge stacks of speakers. youths lean up against the sound and smoke spliffs and cigarettes and if there’s money they hold a Guinness. grown men play dominoes under mango trees on makeshift tables as the music from the nearest sound fills the steamy air with pulsing baselines. grannies make rice and tin mackerel on the coal stove and sing old church songs as if on stage. and the people live, survive and sing.

when there’s no future there is still music and community. that’s something. give thanks.

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