Category: Music….my love

Alternative, R&B, Hip Hop, Reggae, Soul,

Kingston Dub

Flyer on Kingston dub club Facebook page

So I’m here on a hill side in Kingston, a 10min drive from Papine square.

On a Sunday evening, a very cool evening on account of the rain, I decided the do my culture tour.

As we step down what feels like too many uneven steps, that make you walk like a giant as you miscalculating them, I’m greeted by a familiar smell… ahh…escallion.

This tells me I’m in the home of a nature lover aka Rastafarian, one that grows his own ingredients. You’d think it’d be smoke from some sensi that hits you first but you would be re-enforcing a stereotype.

But that smell isn’t far behind because my friend tonight I venture up on Jack’s Hills to Kingston dub club.

As i make my way in I’m surprised by all the tourist up here…it’s like the Tower of Babel, but I’m mostly surprised by the ratio tonight…out of many…white people!

And by white people I mean non locals…

Now if you’ve never been…your basically walking into a musical garden that has different levels and areas.

There an open paved off area for “skanking” (dancing), where there’s a huge wall of speakers that music is pouring out it, grabbing you by the hip and swaying you, two wooden picnic park benches to the side and a tent for the selector and a featured artist to give a small lyric but powerful performance. Tonight was a veteran selector from outta the U.K. Jah Shaka the Mighty Zulu Warrior with his followers (male and female) surrounding the tent.

When sitting at these picnic benches after wearing out your feet from all the skanking…which a lot of people seem to have done, you look up and the moon’s sky twinkling with dancing starlights peeps out from all the dark green leaves of all the plants and trees above, tonight even the moon came out with its fullest.

You can step down to the right of the DJ tent to short but a narrow corridor, where the left takes you to the bathroom and the right takes you to another open area in the back of the house. Where there’s a kitchen, a large wooden bar and lounge area that over looks the lights of Kingston. The deck lounge has wooden floors, a couple of benches and chairs that didn’t all matched but fits right in with the rustic mellow decor vibes.

So back here you can just grab a Red Stripe (foreigners), Heineken (hip locales), Guinness/Dragon (yard roots man), Appleton or White rum (older folks) or a naturally made fruit juices (naturalist & foreigners who have work in the morning) and bask in the lights of the night sky, with the aroma of herb smoke.

If you didn’t bring your own you can grab a bag anytime from a facilitator either with a knapsack and kind words or one that has bags in hand interjecting the name of his product between the lyrics of the music as he weaves through the crowd.

There’s an area inside the house only so deep that sells memorabilia of the club and a wall with Augustus Pablo records on the wall. He was a Jamaican roots reggae and dub record producer, melodica player and keyboardist the owner of this club was associated with.

Back in the lounge area I stood with my back to the bar only turning around to order another beer, just observing the people and watching the moving lights of traffic down below. I decided not to talk to anyone tonight as I just came for the music so I head back to the front.

Jah Shaka was playing tunes old and new…well new to me.

There’s was no mixing, the song would play until it was done then switched to another record with all its cracks, bumps and hisses… Did I mention this is all vintage vinyl records? So no one dared to “wheeeeeeeel up” any song.

Every time I see a nice empress…the ones that make your eyes and the corner of your mouth tilts…she closely followed by her king and you’re negated to looking at the “tourists” as you don’t want to diss nobody.

Looking out into the crowd, above the dance floor more people were coming down and there was an over enthusiastic dread in a full white outfit with a PACO jeans jacket. I refer to him as the flag man of the night. Have you ever watched a live concert of a Rastafarian performer and in the back is a flag bearer, waving the Ethiopian flag vigorously and dancing up a storm the whole performance. Which I honestly think it’s the same dude…those dance moves are not taught unless they are passed down from father to son.

By 11pm the ratio seems to be even now, I forgot Jamaicans like to come out later to things, the club’s Instagram page said from 8pm-2am and I got here at 9:30, so that’s not bad. Of late I’d get to a place @11/12 and be the only one there beside the staff.

I made another bee line to the bar grab another beer, I’m on my fifth but it’s the music that was giving me a buzz, I decide to take the long way around and check out the 3 stalls on the other side of the house. There was a guy selling books, and two others selling craft and jewelry, nothing quite interested me so I moved on.

Back at the bar, I noticed a couple people I knew and knew off, did the head nod of acknowledgement and moved to my spot.

There’s a lot of friendly interactions that happened right in front of me at the bar…well it seems as I can’t make out what language they were speaking, but it sounded pleasant.

There was this guys I couldn’t quite remember where I knew him from but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake people do with me and mistake me for someone totally different. It racked my mind for a bit then gave in and said my subconscious will tell me when it’s ready and continued to sip my beer.

This is an haven for artist upcoming and practicing, performance and visual, on stage and behind the scene…film, yes film…Kurt!

I met Kurt way back in college as a friend of my friend Kyle, I’ve read about his short film being in a Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, I wanted to check it out but I was living in St. Lucia at the time and just came back from a short trip home, so that one missed me.

Thou I haven’t seen all the film, I read enough to spark my interest of the story in front and behind the camera.

As I was leaving all this came to mind so I hailed him up, thanked him for maintaining the culture through films and exposing our non “typical” stories and talent.

As my night ended at 1am, I left on a musical high that was cool in more than one way, promising to return with more people or even talk to some.

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What’s on my iPod??

So today features a bunch of albums that I listen to straight through, no skipping.

Naturally they are song that go on repeat and threepeat if you will.

Depending on my mood which normally follows me throughout the day unless someone/thing screws it up…

I feel for some smooth thumping beats and I can’t miss with these gems:

Res – How I Do and Black•Girls•Rock!, The Roots – How I got over and Undun and Lupe Fiasco – Lasers and The Cool.


Now, I discovered Res when she was signed to MCA back in 2001 when MTV/VH1 used to play music videos, this was her debut and the video was “They-Say Vision“, this was also the start of the Neo-Soul movement that produce Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, India Arie etc.

I was all over the place looking for it, I bought 5 albums that day, but over the next couple months I only listen to Res.

She was more than Neo-Soul or R&B, she was a breath…a deep breath…a mix of r&b, neo-soul and rock, and her voice further softer the hard sharp base and guitar riffs, and they all blend perfectly to create a new sound which was hard to categorize her but couldn’t be ignored that she’d be denied a deal.

The lyrics were the main driver of my adoration for her soul…her music.

Songs like : They Say-Vision – “I wanna try that pill that people take, Make you believe all the things that people say ”

Ice King – “…Like a fallen star in Babylon, You said I was your princess baby, I told you certain things you can’t possess, So let me go let me go…”

and my favorite, I could listen to this over and over…and a couple more times to make sure it sinks in…..

Tsunami – “Ride, ride this wave of mine, There are brighter things out on the other side

Ride, ride this wave of mine, I know that things are going to be all right.”

If you just got out of a break up or had a rough day, just put this song on grab some ice cream, a glass of your favorite wine or gin (not all at once thou…greedy) and just mellow out, this song will cradle you and take you on a journey and back, lay you down gently and just waver off…with Res’ sweet voice lingering your ear.

It’s the last song on the album, what i like to call acoustic soul, it has the sweet strumming of the guitar with just enough bass to ground it.

Her other album Black•Girls•Rock! has a more define robust sound with more song writing gold, “By myself”, “For Who You Are” and “Not a Pretender” are a couple of my favorites songs. This album was released digitally via iTunes and her website, but now it’s not available, but you could get the free download here.

but if you want to hear more from her, there is the IdleWarship – Habits of the Heart album that she and Talib Kweli collaborated on, that’s available on iTunes.

I’ve said this over and over, I plan to stalk her this summer, I want to see her live on stage!
Every time I’m in new york, I never get to see her perform and I might miss her again because she doesn’t have any schedule performance while I’ll be there. 😦

The Roots, who doesn’t love the roots??…seriously who doesn’t?

Not your ordinary hip hop band…well first and only they are a Band!

Questlove one of the best producers and musician of our time, Black Thought, one of the best lyricist in the game, he should be in everybody’s top 5 rappers list,

How i Got Over – “Walk Alone” …soundtrack of my life (3peat!), “The Day” and the title Song…”How i Got Over”

Undun, their latest album; this album is like a hip hop symphony – “Sleep“, “Stomp” and “I Remember

Lupe Fiasco is lyrically iconic, metaphors flow into each other like using tai chi to form musical Feng shui.

the subject matter throughout both albums varies around social issues, hints on political, life’s struggles and the troubles in the music industry for the artist and their motivations as well as how they handle fame.

Intruder Alert” a melodic love song of trust, drugs and family –

“…She said that there was no love in her heart, Cause one day a rapist attacked her and broke that all apart, She said there was no way to fix it….Knew that it was right cause something was wrong, The alarms in her mind didn’t tell her he didn’t belong”

Fighters“, “Put you on Game” and timeless rap ode that speaks of evil (the Game) in this world and the ways it guides and affects peoples lives.

“…I am the American dream, The rape of Africa, The undying machine, The overpriced medicine, The murderous regime, The tough guy’s front, And the one behind the scenes…”

Lasers – more of the lyrical wizardry but this one has a more UK techno dance feel which Lupe raps blends not always smoothly but it works favorite songs “Words i Never said …Complain about the gloom but when’d you pick a broom up?, Just listening to Pac aint gone make it stop, A rebel in your thoughts, aint gon make it halt, If you don’t become an actor you’ll never be a factor, Pills with million side effects, Take em when the pains felt,

Shining down” and “All Black Everything

This will get me thru my day, a soundtrack to keep me mellow, positive and conscious.

I highly recommend y’all check these guys out, they aren’t “main stream”, with raw talent and love for their craft and they have something to say…all you have to do is listen….

And buy Res’ Albums and see her concerts tell her hi for me (shit, i didn’t mention how sexy she is…y’all can tell her that too), she’s been Indie for the past 10 years and still doing her music.

From Bounty to a wet verandah.

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It started with a phone call.
I was heading down to half way tree in a taxi, I had just left Monique and her daughter Kiki.
Being that it was Monique’s birthday I said I’d come and spend some time with her, nothing too fancy, just to chill.
Upon reaching Matilda’s corner I remembered I was suppose to see another Monique and J that weekend also…(everybody has children now, it like a plague 🙂 ) so I gave her a call….”hey mum, wey yu deh?”….now this question has started many a disagreements in and out of context when it comes to the man and woman department, but seeing that its not that type of relationship, I was clear for usage.
She then proceeded to tell me that she was on her was to drop off J by her mother’s because Red Stripe the company she works for was having a Heineken ” drink my beer, its cool!” party at the old train station in downtown Kingston, and this was by invitation only.

Now this is a quaint venue for a party, and I’ve been tricked by events like this before. Where it said invitation only…only to go and see everybody and dem muma dog with an invite….seriously guys, what is the point??

Needless to say I was hesitant in accepting her invitation and previous to this I had another conversation with ma brethren ” The Squid” about it. So birthday Monique (even thou they both have birthdays in the same month, a phenomenon I realized when I called one wishing her happy birthday only to be told I was couple weeks early) was going to the old hits party Mello Vibes later that night with her girlfriends, I told her I might pass through since I didnt make any plans for the night at the time. I called “The Squid” asking him wey him up to…he told me about the same Heineken party, but we could go to Mello Vibes after. So with the combination of hearing about the Heineken party a second time, i haven’t seen Monique and the crew in a long while…and I had promised “The Squid” we’d hang out that weekend…I decided to go.

Now my expectations were very low, given my experience with these types of parties and pair with the fact that I’m getting old….er, so the chance to go to a party is not very high on my list, it right below; going to Church (Acropolis), playing video games til my thumbs get numb (Kratos….doom doom…Kratos…doom doom…Kratos….I will kill Zeus!), hanging out and doing nothing, I don’t get to do that alot or what use to be my answer for everything…”I rather be f$&:ing”

But in essesense what actually gets me out is “friends”…just to interact in a different setting with my choosen few will get me to go anywhere, but that doesn’t say I won’t mingle with a couple cute female strangers…

Random thought….you ever notice you flirt more when your in a relationship? You all can admit it…men out loud and women in that deep dark corner of your mind where you keep the rest of your delusions (some of you).

Anyways…we met up at 11:30 by moe’s, I’d hang with the crew then link up with “The Squid”, then to Mello Vibes to see the birthday moe (it would help to differentiate them but both of them have dreads).
We got to the venue…there was a parking away from the actual venue and a shuttle bus…so I thought, maybe it wouldn’t be a free for all after all,  where I had to battle to get in and out and i was hungry so I hoped there was food. Only to get to the gate and see the real crowd…it was 12midnight and it started from 7:30pm, but they were still people streaming in….well trickling in. But it was as I expected, everybody and dem muma was there…walkers and bengay everywhere.
We went into the party, there were the usually….Heineken green theme decor…the cute people taking pictures of themselves…the dancers were present…posers or fashionista as they fashion themselves (pun intended) and the dancehall music seekers (the tourist, that never leave the island). So the party was in full swing and a bee line to the bar was then formed, then to the chill spot, you know where everybody settles and when an individuals break off for watever reason….this was the origin point.

Now just as we settled….the music stopped…and the place goes dark…only to realize we ended up right in front of the little stage and there was an performance element to this party. Now I’m not a fan of  “stage shows”, so I’m not even slightly impressed even when it’s the familiar cry of “pppppeople dead!!!” Yes ladies and gentlemen Veteran dancehall artist Bounty Killer has taken the stage, who recently is more known for his usage of handy dandy tools, bad english rants (eeeeenglish a dead!!!) and poor choice in women, a parody of his former self. I turn around to see if I accidently stumbled into a Heineken startime oldies show instead of which he would have been an opening act.
Ok, don’t get me wrong I’m was a big bounty killa fan back in the day…Bounty Killa with the fugees was huge!!! But I listen to this man now, coincidentally decaying much like the meaning of dancehall in his innovation, power and relevance.
The power dancehall once had in terms of it’s reach and appeal, the sharing of the “ghetto” experience, we are all interwoven in. This was the “Jamaicans surviving” experience…it just took on different manifestation through out the classes, this was the Jamaica people came here looking for when they heard the music; they weren’t sure what it was or that they were looking for it, but that blend of words, beats and life created something so relatable, it was instantanious understood. Now this has been corrupted by the source that helped its rise…that raw hungry talent; sure they were some upstarts looking for a ‘bust’ but the real talented and hungrier ones that showed they wanted it…they got the prestige and money that came with it. Dancehall was a gateway to escape the poverty they experienced growing up and now to be saddled with fame…not the screaming fans willing to do anything just to be in their presence like in the states. They were everyday day ppl and still were, but now they had money and with enough money you can buy puppets…who charge dearly for their yeses…
So these thoughts ran thru my mind as the performance went on, I took my phone out and took some pictures for Bryan, thinking “my olive colored skin friend in new york would love this, I bet he’s never seen Bounty Killa live” and then the music grabbed me…I heard no more words, no lyrics, no bad English crashing against my temple…forcing its way into my ears…but I refuse to comprehend it. i was taken…
I sway, rocked then danced…
I was with friends, had music, a couple Heinekens (which happen to be my favorite beer) and I let go….feeling only free…

Thats what i remember about the saturday night as i sat on my wet verandah, after the rains had passed, i heard montego bay was washing away with the amount of rain fall the whole weekend, only to get here and nothing…..