• Public Enemy - The Death of Rebel Music

    Mai 20 2011, 14h18

    When I listen to the songs my children play I realise just how far apart we are musically. Ok there are some of 'the greats' they have come to appreciate, like Michael Jackson, Madonna and..... Michael Sembello (who?). But my children are still quite young and if they follow the pattern that I and most of my friends followed, there will come a time when they will choose their rebel anthems, the songs that will define their coming of age, their zits, their longing to be heard; their anger with the rigid and uncaring, unjust world they have been plunged into.

    Since the beginning of popular music generations have claimed new sounds as their own and from these sounds have come heroes of that generation, giving birth to new rebellions. Elvis Presley was one of those who shocked parents with his electric guitar based RnB version of old traditional "white" rock and roll in the 50s. The 60s saw bands like Pink Floyd inspire new generations and the likes of Jimi Hendrix. The 70s had its own rebellious heroes too but it was in the 80s that my rebellious heroes first formed.

    Public Enemy were an integral part of my upbringing. I was a typical black kid growing up in London. I longed to find "my place " in the world, to discover my roots and where I belonged. It was around that time that Spike Lee began to inspire a black pride with his movies, faces like Trevor McDonald were appearing on TV and a strange new music called rap began to make its way across the pond. My favourite group at the time was Cameo (Single Life, Candy) alongside the obvious others like MJ, Whitney Houston and all the other artists I had "borrowed" from my parents. One day my older sister brought home a 'tape' she had borrowed from a friend at school. She played it and my life changed in an instant. There was one track in particular that I just could not comprehend. I was excited, scared, bemused and exhilarated all at once. It was so raw. No fancy bass, no melody, no compromise. Just an amazing bedlam which shouted LISTEN TO ME!!!!! I had found my rebel music. This defined me. This spoke my language. And to make it better, my mother hated it, she could not understand it and that made it mine.

    Public Enemy had a message. The lyrics were hard hitting, honest and dangerous. They were militant in their appearance and gave off a real image of strength of conviction. Like all rebel musicians of the past, they addressed the sentiments of a new generation and were like bullets to my otherwise "water like" pistol.

    Over the next 4 years Chuck D, Flava Flav, professor Griff and the S1Ws adorned every spare inch of my bedroom walls, my school books, bag and clothes. I knew every lyric to "It Takes a Nation of Millions..." and then went looking for more. I found "Yo Bum Rush The Show" and memorised that. I was the first in line at our local record store when "Welcome to the Terrodome" the first single from "Fear of A Black Planet" was released.

    I wonder what the rebel songs and artists will be of today? What songs, what artists will I turn my nose up at when my children blast it from the bedroom stereos? It doesn't look at the moment as if there is any real rebel music left? The issues of the day are not addressed anymore, unless you consider worrying that the evening may be so boring that you need Black Eyed Peas to tell you that "tonights gonna be a good night". Is rebel music dead?

    What was the song that I heard that changed my musical life?

    Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back Def Jam
  • The Ghost of Marley

    Mai 17 2011, 6h13

    I think I'm being haunted. I have always loved Bob Marley songs, especially some of the older tracks done with the Wailers. But in the last week or so something has been urging me to play him non-stop. I first started listening to Bob Marley as a child growing up in the West Indian majority town of Brixton, London - England in the 1970s. It was nice enough, but it was my parent's music. I fell in love with breakdance and Hip-Hop like the rest of my generation. It was not until my first year of University that I got to know Mr Marley personally and I have been an avid listener ever since. You know for a journalist who loves to write about music amongst other things, I was surprised I missed the fact it was 30 years since Bob Marley died. A comment on my Facebook wall to a video I uploaded is what reminded me. The person must have thought I put the video up as an ode to him and I did, but not as a mark of his 30 year anniversary, just because I loved the track.

    Bob Marley
    Misty MorningBob Marley, reggae