Hi. I used to use this blog a lot more than i do now. I don't agree with much of what i've posted here, but such is the nature of time. :) My instagram & facebook are likely to be more up to date.

keep cool, babylon...

>> Sunday, September 11, 2011

when sept 11th happened, i had just completed my junior year in art school at cmu, the automobile revision project & my first group art show (in holland with many other talented artists). i was taking a year off from school to re-assess and re-align... to figure out how to best use my last year of classes.

i was at my girlfriend's ancestral home when we saw the news... i was to fly to vermont to build a music studio with some friends the next day, and like many people, had to wait a few days until the planes started flying again. not much changed in those initial days, but the event certainly helped to define that year.

which brings me to reggae. i had just discovered reggae (beyond bob marley) through Suzie Silver recommending me Alton Ellis (and rocksteady in general) and listening to Lee Perry's Arkology. i had made a couple mixes, nothing special, but collecting my favorite songs i had been able to score off of napster (lol) or my friend Jim's palatial collection of dub & roots. i was (and still am) very fond of the Twinkle Brothers' album "Rasta Pon Top" with it's luscious harmonies and rock-of-gibraltar-solid rhythm section. i loved "Festival Wise", with it's imagery of people dancing outside evoking the outdoor raves and hippie festivals that had been so influential to me in the previous years.

but reggae became something much more to us after 9/11. to a young radical's mind, the patriot act, the violence & wars, the opportunistic business dealings, the utter perversion of justice... done in our name... brought us to a state of artistic, political and spiritual fervor. reggae embodied all of this. with it's soul fire, reggae was rife with referents we enjoyed identifying with. there was little questioning our appropriation of this black rebel music... it felt as if it was speaking to our very being... we let it educate us on the ills of babylon, political rhetoric & the wisdom of the spirit... that hot & cool play of the heart.

in reggae we saw the events of 9/11 connected to a historical context... the valentine's "blam blam fever" and not only spoke to the violence inherent in poverty, but offered a condemnation of our military reaction in afghanistan & iraq... "the gun fever is bad", indeed. the heptones (utterly, heart-breakingly beautiful) "country boy" offered a similar critique of gun violence (in a jamaican context), but also was an excellent diss to GW... "country boy, you shootin' up the place". despite feeling the immense pressure... the gravity of the situation, reggae taught us we could help... we could resist with righteousness & love... borrowed, though it was.

along with great books & greater people and experience... our resistance eventually took on an essence of it's own... artistically, politically & spiritually, we became more than the privileged caricatures we were that year in vermont. but everyone starts somewhere, and i'll always be thankful to reggae for being the kick in the pants that helped myself and my peers to have the courage to resist, the wisdom to connect our struggles with others' and the respect for the rhythms of the spirit... the time to go to battle, and the time to chill the fuck out and let things pass.

speaking of chilling the fuck out, we made a lot of reggae mixes that year, and sent them to our friends around the country. it was our little act of peace in the midst of all that war. they were in constant rotation. they we're our discipline, our meditation. "resistance reggae" vol. 3 and vol. 4 are below. enjoy them. light a fire. keep cool.

01. dave & ansel collins - double barrel
02. niney - blood & fire
03. the maytals - pressure drop
04. stranger cole & lester sterling - bangarang
05. justin hines & the dominoes - carry go bring come
06. lee perry - soul fire
07. yabby you - conquering lion
08. the upsetters & dillenger - rastaman shuffle
09. the heptones - coutry boy
10. ras michael - keep cool babylon
11. the melodians - rivers of babylon
12. lee perry & the upsetters - dread lion
13. johnny clarke - african people
14. alton ellis - arise black man
15. the congos - at the feast
16. desmond dekker - (007) shanty town
17. bob marley - bus dem shut (pyaka)
18. little roy - hurt not the earth
19. abyssinians - mark of the dub
20. black uhuru - guess who's coming to dinner
21. rhythm & sound w/ tikiman - spend some time


01 - lee perry - good will dub
02 - the congos - education of brainwashing
03 - the valentines - blam blam fever
04 - johnny "dizzy" moore
05 - alton ellis & the flames - blessings of love
06 - herman marquis - tom's version
07 - u roy - festival wise
08 - cornell cambell - jah jah me no born yah
09 - prince far i - commandment of drugs
10 - honey boy martin - dreader than dread
11 - lee perry - perry's jump up
12 - lee perry - rub & squeeze
13 - the congos - youth man
14 - the ethiopians - train to skaville
15 - derrick morgan - blazing fire
16 - don drummond - don d lion
17 - blake boy - cambodia
18 - the maytals - take me home country road
19 - the heptones - cool rasta
20 - lee perry - city too hot
21 - ras michael - rise jah jah children
22 - lee perry - the upsetter
23 - heaven sisters - rasta dreadlocks


note: jim mulhearn is at least equally to credit for these mixes. i couldn't find the version of the original artwork that properly titled. also... the struggle continues, modern reggae keeps moving.


Noel Hefele September 12, 2011 at 12:28 AM  

I remember these! Can't believe it has been 10 years. Indeed, these held it down—on rotation. Nice reflection James.

got money? feed kids!

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