Friday, April 10, 2020

The Roaring Lion Tribute (1994)

Roaring Lion (22 February 1908 – 11 July 1999) was a Trinidadian calypsonian (calypso singer/composer). His 65-year career began in the early 1930s and he is best known for his compositions "Ugly Woman" (1933), "Mary Ann" and "Netty, Netty", which are still performed today. The song "If You Wanna Be Happy", which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 18 May 1963, as well as the R&B singles chart, is based on Roaring Lion's "Ugly Woman".
Lion was born Rafael de Leon in Aroquita, in the Caura Hills of northern Trinidad, to a mother named Basalicion de Leon and a father named Arias Cairi Llama. 
From a young age, Roaring Lion (de Leon's adopted stage name) became known for his skill in creating calypsos (particularly in his ability to extemporize lyrics on any subject). Contrary to his humble origins, he cultivated a refined stage persona and always appeared sharply dressed. His career officially began in 1924; he cut his first sides in his late teens. He recorded extensively between the 1930s and 1950s, and was one of the calypsonians who deserves the most credit for the increasing international popularity of the genre during this period.

His lyrics, delivered in rapid-fire style, show an impeccable command of the English language (as well as Trinidadian English Creole), and are replete with witty turns of phrase, humorous metaphors, and clever alliteration and internal rhymes. Of all the early calypsonians, he was by far the most scandalous, with the most banned songs by a large margin. 

Further, the lyrics of many of his "war calypsoes" (essentially insult songs) presage those of similar hip-hop battle rap songs by over 50 years. 

His grandson is American actor and television personality, Alfonso Ribeiro

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Wednesday, April 01, 2020


Extempo (also extempo calypso) is a lyrically improvised form of calypso and is most notably practised in Trinidad and Tobago. It consists of a performer improvising in song or in rhythmic speech on a given theme before an audience who themselves take turns to perform. It is inherently competitive and success is judged by the wit and ingenuity of the performance.
It is similar in form to what has been defined as traditional African song: "a recitative or chants with a short chorus. The soloist gives the melody while a chorus sings a refrain. As the melody is given out, they turn to one another, each improvising in turn. Extempo tends to comprise topics from current events treated with mockery, ridicule and sarcasm, or with flattery or praise.”

It is characterised either by the “single tone”, consisting of four-line stanzas or the “double tone”, which has eight-line stanzas. There are four basic melodies common to extempo: “Sans Humanite”, “Matilda”, “Miss Mary Ann”, and “Big Bamboo”. The most widely used is "Sans Humanite". Another characteristic of extempo is that the performer must be able to think quickly since the subjects are handed out on the spot and the lyrics are then improvised.

The competitive nature of extempo is reflected in the annual Trinidad Carnival with a formal competition for the title of National Extempo Monarch. Extempo War, or warring, is the practice of competitors attacking each other's efforts at extemporizing in the course of their own performance. It is not an essential part of competition, but is a regular feature, and an entertaining one. The acknowledged "Grandmaster of Extempo" was Lord Pretender, who was twice honored by the Trinidad & Tobago government for his services to calypso.
Extempo war may also be called simply Calypso War.
Not all extempo performance is competitive. Away from competition, formal roles for extempo performers are typically as emcees or hosts at private functions.

Extempo is similar to the African-American tradition of "the Dozens" in its competitive aspect, but may be distinguished in that the aim is not to improvise humorous abuse to an opponent, incorporating a given form of words, but to entertain an audience of one's competitors while extemporizing on a given theme. The abuse or sarcasm may be directed either at one's competitors or at subjects relevant to that theme, ideally both.
It is also similar to the United States tradition of freestyle rap.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

RIP Bob Andy

"Too Experienced"

The legendary Lord Pretender (1991)

Lord Pretender (8 September 1917 – 22 January 2002) was the stage name of Aldric Farrell, M.O.M., H.B.M. a calypsonian vocalist born on the island of Tobago widely acknowledged to be a "master" of extempo, a lyrically improvised form of calypso music considered a forerunner of rap. Starting with an impromptu performance at the age of 12, his career spanned nearly seven decades until cancer of the larynx forced him to retire in the mid-1990s.
In 1957, Lord Pretender won the prestigious "Calypso King" competition. Honored by the Trinidad and Tobago government for his services to calypso in 1972, Lord Pretender went on to receive the island's Hummingbird Medal in 1994.
Farrell's mother went to the United States to look for work and left him, at a young age, with his maternal grandmother in Trinidad.
He made his first public performance at the age of twelve in 1929, where he delivered a self-composed calypso about the ghost of a young girl.
Early appearances quickly gained Farrell popularity and earned him the moniker "the Boy Wonder", though he soon reverted to "Pretender", a previous nickname from his school days.
His grandmother did not approve of this career choice due to the "scandalous reputation" of the calypso musicians and more than once, she entered a calypso tent and dragged Pretender out mid-performance. Farrell later recalled: "I'd get two clouts in the face. My grandmother would say: 'You disgracing the family.'"
Pretender regularly performed calypso in the tents throughout Trinidad and Tobago, and his career progressed steadily during the mid-1930s as he performed side by side with stars of the calypso scene, such as Attila the HunRoaring Lion, and Lord Beginner. Wealth did not automatically follow success in the business; when Pretender accompanied fellow calypsonian Executor on a tour lasting over a month, he received just 60 cents and two bags of oranges as payment.
Lord Pretender won his first music competition with his calypso "Ode to the Negro Race", which became a popular wartime number. The song's chorus states: "God made us all and in him we trust; So nobody in the world is better than us." In 1937 he made his first recording, for RCA Victor's Bluebird Records sub-label, and in 1939 Lord Pretender placed third in the original "Calypso King" competition, an event he later won in 1957. The honour of being crowned calypso monarch was regarded by the islanders as the ultimate achievement for any calypsonian.
Pretender's 1961 song "Never Ever Worry" is considered to be "one of the classic calypsos of all time". Fellow calypsonian David Rudder once remarked that: "Pretender talked about how there's always someone who has more worries than you. Pretender grew up in an era when calypsonians were not accepted as they are today, and it's this philosophy that got him through those hard times and made him last so long." In 1996 "Never Ever Worry" featured in the soundtrack for the U.S. road movieCadillac Ranch:
Don't mind how you suffering bad
What I say is true
Always consider:
Somebody suffering more than you.
Excerpt from "Never Ever Worry"—Lord Pretender (1961)
In 1972 Pretender received his first national award, the Trinidad & Tobago Public Service Medal of Merit Silver (for Calypso), from Governor-General Sir Solomon Hochoy. The next year he competed against Roaring Lion, Viper, the Great Unknown and Owl, in a calypso contest, after which Lord Pretender was honoured as king of extempo.
Lord Pretender enjoyed a lengthy career in the music business and until the mid-1990s gave regular performances. In 1994 he received the prestigious Hummingbird medal, but despite frequent appearances on stage he did not make much money during his 72-year music career. In the mid-1990s, cancer of the larynx put an end to his singing career, and in later life the government provided him with rent-free accommodation at Port of Spain. A single man with no children, Lord Pretender was a big fan of horse racing, and could frequently be observed at Trinidad's Santa Rosa Park racecourse with his horse-owning friend Lord Kitchener.
Pretender died at the age of 84, having been hospitalised for several months due to the throat cancer he had suffered for years. The general secretary of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) stated that: "Pretender was one of the legends of calypso," and that, "Trinidad has lost a cultural icon....His exploits and achievements will for a long time form part of our cultural legacy as well as our national history."


Lord Pretender perennially appeared on stage smartly dressed in a sharp suit with skinny tie, his act characterised by the casting of suspicious glances and an idiosyncratic utilisation of his fedora as a prop.
Pretender stressed social commentary in calypso, and throughout his career stayed with oratorical ballads. According to Rapso artist Brother Resistance, Pretender had "zero tolerance for calypsonians who ignored lyrical content in their song,"and was known for stressing a "witty, moralising element" in his compositions. Upon Lord Pretender's death, David Rudder commented that Pretender was "a stickler for what he considered to be authentic kaiso." Rudder, who in the past had been criticised by Pretender, also remarked: "The last time I saw him...he asked me when I was going to sing calypso."
The zenith of a woman's ambition in life
Should be to be a loving mother and a pleasing wife
For thus they are by nature intended
Not as overlords or slaves but to man subjected
To join with him in love and connubial unity
In generating humanity.
"Mother Love"—Lord Pretender (1937)
In "Yo No Quiero Trabajo", Lord Pretender tells of the commonly held perception by men of the time that dating a rich white woman led to an increase in respect:[10]
Even my friends they envy me
But I am idolized by the family
And sooner or later I'll buy a car
To drive around the circular.
"Yo No Quiero Trabajo"—Lord Pretender


Pretender was widely considered "master" of extempo, a lyrically improvised form of calypso music considered a precursor to rap music, which at the time was held to be the supreme form of calypso. Extempo involves the improvisation of lyrics based upon topics suggested by the audience; the performer spontaneously devises songs filled with intricate lyrics and rhymes. Pretender has been described as extempo's "greatest exponent, and virtually sole guardian."
"He never entered the annual extempo competition, instituted in the hope of reviving the discipline in Trinidad, because by general consent, he would have spoiled the party for everyone else. No one could match his ability to conjure up humorous, and perfectly scanned, verses from nowhere."
Talking of his technique, Pretender once explained that, "the trick is always to have your first and last verse." Rudder described Pretender as "a sly, old fox when it came to singing extempo," and fellow calypsonian Mighty Sparrow agreed, stating that: "When you think you have him, he rest a hot piece of extempo on you. He could think fast."

A classic performance by the legendary calypsonian Pretender shows why they don't make them like him anymore From 1991, here is the late, great Lord Pretender.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Josey Wales with Manudigital....

Josey Wales OD, born Joseph Winston Sterling in St. Mary, Jamaica is an influential Jamaican dancehall deejay. He was considered, along with Brigadier JerryYellowman and sound system partner Charlie Chaplin, one of the best deejays of the 1980s. Wales is named after the 1976 Western movie character from The Outlaw Josey Wales, played by Clint Eastwood, and subsequently nicknamed "The Outlaw".
His career began in the late 1970s performing over U-Roy-owned King Sturgav sound system, and he gained even more popularity in the early 1980s performing over Henry "Junjo" Lawes's Volcano sound system, and recording singles such as "Bobo Dread" and "Leggo Mi Hand" for Lawes' label of the same name as well as later hits for George Phang's Power House label, most noticeably "Undercover Lover".
He was shot and robbed in 1997, an incident that he dealt with in the hit "Bushwacked".
He appeared in Shaggy's "Bad Man Don't Cry" video, and by 2014 had begun recording new material.
In October 2017 he was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Jah9 -"Ma'at"

To each his own
Each man stands alone
We each must bring a sacrifice or an offering
And what we pay
Will be weighed
When we meet our judgment day
So keep it light as a feather
And fly away
These days it seems that everyone
Is on some twisted mission
To make a great impression
Or to boost their likes and rating
Faking friendship just to get ahead
As jaded as the walking dead
Becoming the norm as corruption spread
But truth is always waiting
Much of what we've been taught to love or fear
Are just moments on the journey here
We must choose what we keep Or let go
Believe what your told or go seek and go know
To each his own
Each man stands alone
We each must bring
A sacrifice or an offering
And what we pay
Will be weighed
When we meet our judgment day
So keep it light as a feather
And fly away
Nuff a dem claim dem righteous
Tru dem seh Ital, no meat
Very little salt or sweet
Tru dem fitness and full of intelligence
With great confidence to justspeak
But we see seh dem secretly full of fear
And hopelessly unaware
Of how a loving heart and peaceful thoughts
Keep the conscience clear
So we say caution to the scornful
Your pride is gonna be your downfall
Be humble when corrected
Receive it willingly and be grateful
Because love is what a one is expected to use
To effectively govern decision
So with all the long term planning and precision
You ready if di mission?
To each his own
Each man stands alone
We each must bring
A sacrifice or an offering
And what we pay
Will be weighed
When we meet our judgment day
So keep it light as a feather
And fly away
Fly away
From the social drama
Fly away
Front the theatres of war
Fly away
From the minstrel show karma
Fly away
Into full bloom and power
I am a pillar of strength
Firm at the core
I and I sisters and brothers will endure
What we represents together is concentrated pure
Unselfish, raw, creation law
Order Divine, 0 to 9  

Monday, March 16, 2020


Janine Elizabeth Cunningham (born 23 May 1983), better known as Jah9, is a Jamaican singer.
Jah9 was born in Montego Bay in Saint James, Jamaica. Her father was a Baptist minister and her mother was a teacher and social worker. She spent much of her childhood in FalmouthTrelawny. In 1991 the family moved to Kingston. After a period at the university she commenced realizing her musical passion. Her music is often described as "jazz on dub", because her singing voice is influenced by Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, partly combined with the dancehall sound of Sizzla and the more potent dub rhythms similar to those of Augustus Pablo.

Jah9 tackles the subject of pedophilia with "Unafraid". This artist is intellectually, spiritually and musically fearless. 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Buju Banton Onstage TV Interview (3/14/20)

Buju Banton (born Mark Anthony Myrie; 15 July 1973) is a Jamaican reggae dancehall recording artist. He is widely considered one of the most significant and well-regarded artists in Jamaican music. Banton has collaborated with many international artists, including those in the Hip HopLatin and punk rock genres, as well as the sons of Bob Marley.
Banton released a number of dancehall singles as early as 1987 but came to prominence in 1992 with two albums, Stamina Daddy and Mr. Mention, the latter which became the best-selling album in Jamaican history upon its release. That year he also broke the record for #1 singles in Jamaica, previous held by Bob Marley. He signed with the major label Mercury Records and released Voice of Jamaica in 1993. By the mid-1990s, Banton's music became more influenced by his Rastafari faith, as heard on the seminal albums 'Til Shiloh and Inna Heights.
In 2009, he was arrested on drug-related charges in the United States and his first trial resulted in a hung jury. His 2010 album Before the Dawn won Best Reggae Album at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards. In 2011, he was convicted on the same criminal charge and was imprisoned in the U.S. until December 2018, whereupon he was deported home to Jamaica.

Buju Banton was born in Kingston, Jamaica in a poor neighbourhood known as Salt Lane. Buju is a nickname given to him by his mother as a child. Banton is a Jamaican word that refers to someone who is a respected storyteller, and it was adopted by Myrie in tribute to the deejay Burro Banton, whom Buju admired as a child. Buju emulated Burro's rough vocals and forceful delivery, developing his own distinctive style. Buju's mother was a higgler, or street vendor, while his father worked as a labourer at a tile factory. He was the youngest of fifteen children born into a family that was directly descended from the Maroons of Jamaica.
Banton has homes in Jamaica and Tamarac, Florida (United States). He also has 15 children. 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Lila Ike Interview

Lila Iké

The straight-shooting, free-spirited, yet easy-going singer who belts soulful tunes with a velvety smooth voice. Born and raised in the cool hills of Manchester, Lila attended the Manchester High School where her love for music truly started to form.
Affectionately labeled the ‘class clown’, Lila was usually in the position where she would be asked to create jingles on spot for class presentations or just be caught in class ‘freestyling’ with her friends.
She’s cites influencers from a wide range of genres- from pop to lover’s rock to rhythm and blues. She even goes as far as to describe herself as an ‘old soul’- often channeling the soulful sounds of influencers like Garnet Silk, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys and more.

Lila Iké was born Alecia Grey, the second oldest of four sisters; she chose the name Lila, which means blooming flower, and Iké, a Yoruba word meaning the Power of God. Her mother, an avid music fan, played an assortment of genres at home: reggae, country and western, R&B, gospel and jazz, which was significant in shaping the vocal versatility that characterizes Lila's traditional reggae sound with a glistening modern edge. "Dancehall was the only music my mother didn't play at home because its lyrics (sometimes) aren't really child friendly, so when I started writing my own songs, I wrote conscious lyrics that my mother would want to play in the house," said the singer. Recognizing the financial stress her mother endured providing for four children, Lila quit Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, about 40 minutes from Christiana, where she was studying to become a teacher, and found work at a call center in Kingston, over two hours away. Lila, admittedly, didn't know what a call center was, nonetheless, she relocated to Jamaica's capital, determined to make her own way and pursue her dream of a musical career. Lila performed wherever she could, including at open mic Saturday nights at Jamnesia, a seaside venue (located in Bull Bay, about 20 minutes outside of Kingston) where many Jamaican artists who have shot to prominence over the past 10 years honed their performing skills, including Chronixx, Jah9, Kabaka Pyramid, NoMaddz, Raging Fyah and Protoje.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Muddy Waters -"Mojo Working"


Peetie Wheatstraw Stomp

William Bunch (December 21, 1902 – December 21, 1941), known as Peetie Wheatstraw, was an American musician, an influential figure among 1930s blues singers. The only known photograph of him shows him holding a National brand tricone resonator guitar, but he played the piano on most of his recordings.
By the time Bunch reached St. Louis, he had discarded his name and crafted a new identity. The name "Peetie Wheatstraw" was described by the blues scholar Paul Oliver as one that had well-rooted folk associations. Later writers have repeated this, while reporting that many uses of the name were copied from Bunch. Elijah Wald suggested that Bunch may have been the sole source of all uses of the name. It would have been in character for Bunch to invent a name with a whimsical folkloric flavor.
All but two of his records were issued under the names "Peetie Wheatstraw, the Devil's Son-in-Law" and "Peetie Wheatstraw, the High Sheriff from Hell". He composed several "stomps" with lyrics projecting a boastful demonic persona to match these sobriquets. His hardened attitude and egotism have given contemporary authors grounds for comparing him to modern-day rap artists. There is some evidence that the writer Ralph Ellison knew him; Ellison used the name "Peetie Wheatstraw" and aspects of the musician's demonic persona (but no biographical facts) for a character in his novel Invisible Man.
African-American music maintains the tradition of the African "praise song", which tells of the prowess (sexual and other) of the singer. First-person celebrations of the self provide the impetus for many of Wheatstraw's songs, and he rang changes on this theme with confidence, humor and occasional menace. The blues singer Henry Townsend recalled that Wheatstraw's real personality was similar: "He was that kind of person. You know, a jive-type person." The blues critic Tony Russell updated the description: "Wheatstraw constructed a macho persona that made him the spiritual ancestor of rap artists."

Monday, March 09, 2020

Sevana, Jaz Elise, Lila Ikè and Naomi Cowan - International Women’s Day Session

Sevana, Jaz Elise, Lila Ikè and Naomi Cowan perform the Rock & Groove Riddim live and freestyle for BBC Radio 1Xtra at Protoje's Habitat Studios.

Click the link below to peep Seani B's show.

Public Enemy Tribute Mix by DJ AMARU

Public Enemy is my favorite hip hop entity. Chuck D's voice, the positive message and the wall of sound that they created is LEGENDARY. Here is DJ Amaru cutting up a few of their better known songs.

Sunday, March 08, 2020


Robert Russell (born 28 September 1957), better known by the stage name Brigadier Jerry is a Jamaican dancehall reggae deejay known for his "cultural" lyrics.Jerry has recorded five albums over the years, but the bulk of his career has been spent touring the world, as well as Jamaica, performing over countless sound systems. 

He still records the occasional single, most recently for the Ranking Joe label, but remains primarily a live performer (mostly for King Sturgav). He is considered by many to be U-Roy's greatest student; a stable which includes Ranking JoeJosey WalesCharlie ChaplinU Brown on down to modern-day artists such as Buju Banton.

Friday, March 06, 2020

The TOAST tradition

The African American Toast Tradition
By Mona Lisa Saloy

As evidenced in print and music, African Americans boast a lively verbal art tradition that includes tales, toasts, and adventures of bad guys who confront and vanquish any adversary instantly and guiltlessly. From Reconstruction to the jazz age through today, this boasting tradition has been a uniquely urban phenomenon.

"Toasts" are performed narratives of often urban but always heroic events. For many Blacks, both performers and audience, hearing about or performing the winning ways of the central character becomes as creative a release as Black music. Toasting is today's continuance of an oral tradition, but many contemporary toasters read their complicated and elaborate versions from a text. As with any oral tradition, many versions of the same toast exist. The toast is a dynamic performance within the Black community of recognizable and popular central characters. They are performed in bars, libraries, community centers, and even college campuses. However, less explicit toasts are performed by anyone at any time for entertainment.
A toast well known in any large American city with a significant Black population is "Shine and the Titanic." This toast relates the heroic efforts of an old Black stoker to warn of the ship's impending disaster, but when ignored, he strives to save himself. The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage in 1912, during the Jim Crow days when Blacks were not allowed as passengers.
Toasts are typical of other Black traditions, such as quilting and gospel, in that improvisation is highly valued. Therefore, one will find many different versions of any toast; many use profane street speech. This version of "Shine and the Titanic" heard by the author in Oakland, California, has been edited for publication.
In toasts, historical accuracy is not considered important. For instance, although in reality the Titanic sank in April, in the ballad it sinks in May. Audiences expect, accept, and appreciate the toaster's improvisations.
As is common in toasts, a narrator describes Shines's successful exploits, while Shine directly addresses the captain, his daughter, and the whale. Shine, the black stoker and hero of the toast, repeatedly warns the white captain of the impending disaster and humbly gives updates on the sinking ship. Even though Shine is ignored, hustled, and chased by a whale, he remains confident of his ability and determination. It is Shine alone who can save the day.

Shine and the Titanic
It was a hell of a day in the merry month of May
When the great Titanic was sailing away.
The captain and his daughter was there, too,
And old black Shine, he didn't need no crew.
Shine was downstairs eating his peas
When the . . .water come up to his knees.
He said, "Captain, Captain, I was downstairs eating my peas When the water come up to my knees."
He said, "Shine, Shine, set your black a$$ down.
I got ninety-nine pumps to pump the water down."
Shine went downstairs looking through space.
That's when the water came up to his waist.
He said, "Captain, Captain, I was downstairs looking through space,
That's when the water came up to my waist."
He said, "Shine, Shine, set your black a$$ down.
I got ninety-nine pumps to pump the water down."
Shine went downstairs, he ate a piece of bread.
That's when the water came above his head.
He said, "Captain, Captain, I was downstairs eating my bread
And the . . .water came above my head."
He said, "Shine, Shine, set your black a$$ down.
I got ninety-nine pumps to pump the water down."
Shine took off his shirt, took a dive. He took one stroke
And the water pushed him like it pushed a motorboat.
I'll give you more money than any black man see."
Shine said, "Money is good on land or sea.
Take off your shirt and swim like me."
And Shine swam on.
Shine met up with the whale.
The whale said, "Shine, Shine, you swim mighty fine,
But if you miss one stroke, your black a$$ is mine."
Shine said, "You may be the king of the ocean, king of the sea,
But you got to be a swimming mutha****  to out-swim me."
And Shine swam on.
Now when the news got to the port, the great Titanic has sunk,
You won't believe this, but old Shine was on the corner damn near drunk.