Friday, October 16, 2009

Surfing with Big Youth, Sam Bramwell, and Jacob "Killer" Miller

First up! Big Youth, from '74, thinking with some foreboding about his hair. The dreadlocked mane, you see, is a portent of FIRE:

Once again I lodge my complaint that you can't find lyrix for any of these roots tunes online. This one's a little easier to understand, though. After that awesome high "DREAAAAAAAAAD!!!", Mr. Youth sings about a "lion in the jungle, the concrete jungle," which is Rasta code for a dreadlocked fellow--whose hair makes him look like a LION--in Babylon, the "concrete jungle."

Except there's an interesting difference: lions live in the savannah, yes yes Dr. Science, but are commonly known as the "kings of the jungle." Presumably Mr. Youth is playing off that cliche rather than naturalistic fact when he sings about his "lion in the jungle." But if a lion is "king of the jungle," you'd think it'd feel comfortable in the jungle, part and parcel, like it BELONGS. The dreadlocked Rasta, on the other hand, does NOT feel part and parcel of the concrete jungle, Babylon. Instead, he wants to chant it down (and whatnot), and ride the Black Star Liner back to Ethiopia (or whatnot).

Perhaps Mr. Big peers more deeply into the leonine nature than I initially gave him credit for. Maybe he realizes the lion is a reluctant ruler, uncomfortable in his own domain, if not inside his own skin. When the Rasta cultivates his unwashed mane, is it with some reluctance? Does he take up this mantle of rebellion knowing that capitulation to Babylon would be easier? Is the Dread inna Babylon secretly tempted by a metrosexual Chandler Bing haircut, one that would enable him to land a sweet job in the advertising biz and a comfortable middle-class lifestyle in Kingston, rather than this heavy yoke of resistance? That's something to chew on, brother. (Aside from that gazelle you're working on...)

Along similar lines, here's Sam Bramwell from '79:

--and Jacob "Killer" Miller from Inner Circle, sometime in the '70s:

I and I wish you and you a rootsy Friday, and Jah go with you.

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