Songs of Revolution
Updated: Aug 3
The current global protest against racism and police brutality is nothing new - but this time, it seems we have reached a tipping point. The moment is now where there is a global call to action against discrimination, prejudice, racism and marginalisation of black people globally. The global outcry resulting from the blatant murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minnesota police officers in broad daylight has unleashed a denunciation of police atrocities against black and brown people worldwide that is unparalleled.
Jamaican Popular Music has always been at the forefront of rejecting all forms of oppression, police brutality, colonial aggression, racism and globalisation. Jamaica has led the way in condemning these evil actions, especially state brutality of Africans at home and abroad.
Jamaican champions of liberation and economic empowerment have had a significant impact on the world.
This advocacy goes back as far as Harry Belafonte, Louise Bennett, Claude McCay, Marcus Garvey Leonard Howell, St William Grant, Aggy Bernard, Prince Buster, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Bounty Killa, Anthony B and Sizzla.
Songs of freedom are an integral part of the story of Jamaican Popular Music, so we have compiled a shortlist of songs that can become the soundtrack of this new movement against systemic racism, police brutality, injustice and economic disenfranchisement against black/brown people.
Equal Rights - Peter Tosh
The Bush Doctor is in a militant mood on this song, from the album of the same name. Tosh declares that peace is not the answer to racial injustice and economic underdevelopment. What is essential is equal rights for all people of the world. Tosh believes when equal rights and justice can be possible, only then will there be true peace
Babylon System - Bob Marley
This song is from one of Marley's most militant album - Survival, 'Babylon System' decries the oppressive systems of capitalism, colonialism, miseducation, religious delusion, racism and imperialism. This song is a call to action for rebellion against all oppression of black people in Africa and the African diaspora.
Columbus - Burning Spear
Burning Spear is in an unforgiving mood and declares Christopher Columbus a liar and a criminal. Debunking the notion that he discovered the Caribbean, Spear establishes the fact that he was nothing more than a plunderer, rapist and murderer. Burning Spear's intent is to deprogrammed the minds of black people from the miseducated notion that Columbus was a great explorer. Spear rejects the narrative of white supremacy, which promotes the idea that Columbus discovered the region and civilised the indigenous population who never asked anyone for any such assistance.
Babylon the Bandit Steel Pulse
David Hinds and Steel Pulse shines a light on the predatory tendencies of Europeans. They invaded territories in the Americas, Asia and Africa and the process decimated indigenous populations, enslaved, oppressed and marginalised all non-white people. They were entrenching the white supremacy doctrine that used to oppressed and otherised non-white populations. The lyrics of the songs expose the piracy, theft and genocide inflicted on non-white people by white Europeans and their forebears. As they say in words, 'come and help me mash them'.
Jah Jah City - Capleton
King Shango focuses attention on the state of Jamaica in terms of the violence and murders in cities such as Kingston and Montego Bay. He laments that this is a direct consequence of British colonialism and US political interference. He invokes the influence of Marcus Garvey and rejects racism and oppression at the hands of our colonisers.