Sunday, 14 March 2010

LINTON KWESI JOHNSON - Revaluueshanary Dub Poet.



Linton Kwesi Johnson, aka LKJ, was born August 24th 1952, in Chapelton ,Jamaica.He settled in Britain at an early age and has resided here now for over 40 years. While at school in the late 1960s he joined the British Black Panther Movement, and became an activist.
Writing became his political act and poetry is his cultural weapon. When he takes up a position I have learnt never to expect any compromise. His first work appeared in 1974, " Voices of the Living and the Dead " his poems mainly political, dealing with his personal experiences of being an African- Caribbean in Britain. He has carried on to this day articulating tales of struggle and oppression best I think when performed live, his words really do become alive. I wish there were more like him, a poet of real truth and depth.
Kweisi Johnson's written work is only one small part of his artistic output, he has also over the years released some outstanding records mixing his voice with a heady dub style. Through this work he has reached outside to people who perhaps have not been drawn to poetry , known perhaps primarily as a performance poet, some people might just go and catch him to hear the music, but with Kweisi Johson you get no compromise , you just have to listen. Music, politics and poetry what more could you ask for.
In the dark days of Thatcher's Britain I remember his "messages from the frontline " his angry voice mirroring ours. Well he's still taking risks, passionate, and inspiring, not afraid to experiment and push boundaries. A mature poet mixing plain speaking and metaphor.
" Inglan is a bitch " still but lucky for us their is a voice that refuses to go away . It demands justice and may his struggle become ours. Lets together say no to fascism and intolerance.
Meanwhile I'll leave you with some of his words. Read them out loud.

FITE DEM BACK

we gonna smash their brains in
cause they ain't got nofink in 'em
we gonna smash their brains in
cause they ain't got nofink in 'em..

some a dem say dem a niggah haytah
an' some a dem say dem a black beatah
some a dem say dem a black stabah
an' some a dem say dem a paki bashah

fashist an di attack
noh baddah worry 'bout dat
fashist an di attack
wi wi' fite dem back
fashist an di attack
den wi countah -attack
fashist an di atack
den wi drive dem back

we gonna smash their brains in
cause they ain't got nofink in 'em
we gonna smash their brais in
cause they ain't got nofink in em

REALITY POEM

dis is di age of reality
but some a wi a deal wid mitalagy
dis is di age of science an 'teknalagy
but some a wi a check fi antiquity

w'en wi can't face reality
wi leggo wi clarity
some latch aan to vanity
some hol' insanity
some geet vision
start preach relijin
but dem can't mek decishan
w'en itcome to wi fite
dem can't mek decishan
w'en it comes to wi rites

man,
dis is di age af reality
but some awi a deal wid mitalagy
dis is di age af science an' teknalagy
but some a wi a check fi antiquity

dem one deh gaan outta line
dem naw live in fi wi time
far dem seh dem get sign
an' dem bline dem eye
to de lite a di worl'
an' gaan search widin
di dark a dem doom
an' a shout 'bout sin
instead a fite fi win
man,
dis is di age af reality
but some a wi deal wid mitalagy
dis is di age af science an' teknalagy
but some a wi a check fi antiquity

dis is di age af decishan
soh mek wi leggo relijan
dis is di age af decishan
dis is di age af reality
soh mek wi leggo mitalagy
dis is di age of science an' teknalagy
soh mek wi hol' di clarity
mek wi hol' di clarity
mek wi hol' di clarity

SEASONS OF THE HEART

Bequiled
by blue moon
O enchanting light

we lost our way
like lovers sometime do
searching wide-eyed
for wild flowers
in the 'fragrant forest of the night '

now memories
slowly drifton by
like grey clouds
against a sombre winter sky
and all our yeasterdays are now become
the springtime of our days

life is the greatest teacher
love is the lesson to be learnt
like how the heart's seasons shift
how the sweet smelling blossoms of spring
are soon become the icy arrows of winter's sting
how spring intoxicated by the sun
now throws off her green gown
and summer's golden smile is soon become
the frown of autumn's brown
how passion spent we droop like sapless vines
in the winter of our minds

SENSE OUT OF NANSENSE

di innocent an di fool could pass fi twin
but haas a haas
an mule a mule
mawgah mean mawgah
it noh mean slim

yet di two a dem in camman share someting

dem is awftin canfused an get used
dem is awftin criticised an campamised
dem is awftin villified an reviled
dem is awftin foun guilty widout being tried

wan ting set di two a dem far apawt dow
di innocent wi hawbah dout
check tings out
an maybe fine out
but di fool
cho...

di innocent an di fool could pass fi twin
but like a like
an love a love
a pidgin is a pidgin
an a dove is a dove

yet di two a dem in camman share someting
demis awftin anticipated an laywaited
dem is awftin patronised an penalised
dem is awfin castigated an implicated

wan ting set di two a dem far apawt dow
di innocent wi hawbah dout
check tings out
an maybe fine out
but di fool
cho...

di innocent an di fool could paas fi twin
but rat a rat
an mouse a mouse
flea a flea
an louse a louse

yet di two a dem in camman share something

dem is awftin decried an denied
dem is awftin ridiculed an doungraded
dem is sometimes kangratulated an celebrated
dem is sometimes suprised an elated
but as yu mite have already guess
dem is awftin foun wantin more or less

dus spoke di wizen wans of ole
dis is a story nevah told

ALL WI DOIN IS DEFENDIN

war... war...
mi seh lissen
oppressin man
hear what I say if yu can
wi have
a grevious blow fi blow

wi will fite yu in di street wid we han
wi have a plan
soh lissen man
get ready fi tek some blows

doze days
of di truncheon
an doze nites
of melancholy locked in a cell
doze hours of torture touchin hell
doze blows dat caused my heart to swell
were well
numbered
and are now
at an end

all wi doin
is defendin
soh get yu ready
fi war... war...
freedom is a very firm thing
all oppression
can do is bring
passion to di eights of eruption
an songs of fire wi will sing

no... no...
noh run
yu did soun yu siren
an is war now
war... war...

di Special Patrol
will fall
like a wall force doun
or a toun turn to dus
even dow dem think dem bold
wi know dem cold like ice wid fear
an wi is fire!
choose yu weapon dem
quick!
all wi need is bakkles an bricks an sticks
wi hav fist
wi fav feet
wi carry dandamite in wi teeth

sen fi di riot squad
quick!
cause wi runin wild
wi bittah like bile
blood will guide
their way
an I say
all wi doin
is defendin
soh set yu ready
fi war... war...
freedom is avery fine thing

INGLAN IS A BITCH

w'en mi jus' come to Landan toun
mi use to work pan di andahdroun
but workin' pan di andahgroun
y'u don't get fi knowyour way aroun'

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escapin' it
Inglan is a bitch
dere's no runnin' whey fram it

mi get a lickle jab in a big 'otell
an' awftah a while, mi woz doin' quite well
dem staat mi aaf as a dish-washah
but w'en mi tek a stack, mi noh turn clack - watchah!

Ingan is a bitch
dere's no escapin it
Inglan is a bitch
noh baddah try fi hide fram it

w'en dem gi' youdi lickle wage packit
fus dem rab it wid dem big tax rackit
y'u haffi struggle fi mek en's meet
an' w'en y'u goh a y'u bed y'u jus' cant sleep

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escapin' it
Inglan is a bitch fi true
a noh lie mi a tell, a true

mi use to work dig ditch w'en it cowl noh bitch
mi did strang like amule, but, bwoy, mi did fool
den awftah a while mi jus' stap dhu ovahtime
den awftah a while mi jus' phu dung mi tool

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escaping it
Inglan is a bitch
y'u haffi know how fi survive in it

well mi dhu day wok an' mi dhu nite wok
mi dhu clean wok an' mi dhu dutty wok
dem seh dat black man is very lazy
but if y'u si how mi wok y'u woulda sy mi crazy

Ingan is a bitch
dere's no escapin it
Inglan is a bitch
y'u bettah face up to it

dem have a lickle facktri up inna Brackly
inna disya facktri all dem dhu is pack crackry
fi di laas fifteen years dem get mi laybah
now awftah fifteen years mi fall out a fayvah

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escapin' it
Inglan is a bitch
dere's no runnin' whey fram it

mi know dem have work, work in abundant
yet still, dem mek mi redundant
now, at fifty-five mi gettin' quite ol'
yet still, dem sen' mi fi goh draw dole

Inglan is a bitch
dere's no escapin' it
Inglan is a bitch fi true
is whey wi a goh dhu 'bout it?

3 comments:

  1. FITE DEM BACK was always sung on demos,Dread Beat An’ Blood is seminal & a cool punk album.laters.xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Caught LKJ with Dennis Bovell @ the Elephant Fair in 84 (?).
    One of the best reggae performances I have ever seen; up there with Misty and the Steppers as far as the Brit scene was concerned.
    LKJ is now taught in GCSE English... Rastafari!

    ReplyDelete