Thursday, 29 March 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #121 - Sizzla, "In Gambia"

Another excursion into less familiar waters. I have memories of Sizzla years ago, memories of a "conscious" roots alternative to the Yellowman and Buju Banton and them, but with enough homophobia and that to still sit justly outside the liberal pale.

So here we go. Sizzla went out to Gambia in 2008 and did most of the recordings there, before they got polished up back home. The backing is sparse: beats, guitar and bass for the most part. Sizzla and his lyrics/tunes are centre-stage.

"I've got natural love for you", he croons to his "Woman of Creation". What the fuck does that mean? Always keep an eye on the guys that put their women on pedal-stools, yeah? There's a touch of the Kray Twins about it; a strait-jacket of expectations that will earn a beating if it's not observed. "Every man find a woman" he continues on "Nothing Cah Wrong", but the rest of it is too patois for me to follow. Safe to assume it's still hating on them gays them though: "Every other way is total confusion." He can sing about "spread your love and feed the children" all the wants; but that talk seems pretty cheap stacked against his abysmal sexual politics.  "Spreading Jah love" is a thin and greasy business.

I'm sure it's all about perspective, but I don't feel very pluralist at the minute. Too much shitty news.  "Too Much War" is a pretty simple message as well, eh? Musically, the backdrop sounds drawn from Fugees-like Nineties hip-hop. He's keen to celebrate his return back to the motherland. "Make a Visit" sees him spitting over an acoustic guitar, stripped down and furious-paced. "How many years you been gone?/Four thousand." "Where Is the Love" even sees him tickle the soul corners of his heart, though still with a Rasta agenda.

Can't help boxes are being ticked. Song about dreadlocks: tick. Songs about "Gambian Girls": tick. It feels cynical. "Planet in Peril" advises the world to "turn to God" and the Ten Commandments: "Why is it some man rape the ladies?/Why is it the pervert molest the babies?" Why indeed, Sizzla? "Branded African": "If they say Africa is poor/Why is it England coming back for more?/...What if we start making computers for ourself?" Finally, I feel like we're asking similar questions: but I'm not his target audience, I imagine. Assuming that he has one.

Rating: Strange Idea of Love out of Biblical Nonsense

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