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'Records like Dave's Black are more than entertainment'

BACKLASH: Dave has sparked a debate with the first single from his debut album

OVER THE last few weeks that ‘dirty’ word – black – has been high on the media agenda again.

I wonder why the mere mention of it can stir such strong emotions and create a vacuous space for conversation.

Discussion is good, but it is alarming when you hear some of the opinions that are openly aired.

If you follow my Instagram channel (@seanibremix) you may have seen my passionate video (which some may call a rant) about the backlash from some of the Radio 1 audience to Annie Mac playing UK rapper Dave’s Black record.

This record brings us back to a place that Bashy’s Black Boys record took us in 2009.

Both records are about black upliftment and being aware of how much black people have contributed to this world holistically.

Records like this are more than entertainment – they are a critical part of education. An education that unfortunately doesn’t get taught in the schools or colleges; an education that has been stolen and hidden from black people around the world for many years.

The problem with them seems to be that some of the listeners think it is “racist” for black artists to speak in such a manner. The argument is: Would they get away with a record called White?

I understand that argument from a black and white perspective.

But the bigger issue is there is a grey area. That grey area is that if you haven’t lived in the skin of a black person you truly would know that a record like this adds balance to our experience.

Walking in my shoes is no longer good enough to understand the black experience you have to live in my skin.

This is one of the reasons why I love the Caribbean and Africa so much and see it as returning home. It may be slightly obvious, but I don’t have to water down my blackness and overly worry about what my white colleagues may think.

I can be me unapologetically and talk the way I talk and act the way I act without fear of being judged because I am different.

One of the last songs I recorded in Jamaica was by an upcoming artist, Yeza, called Is It Because I’m Black?, and all the week this has been ringing around my head due to what has been going on around me – don’t even get me started on MP David Lammy getting attacked for his ‘white saviour’ comments…


REPRESENTING: Seani was with Yeza, left, recently, recording her take on Syl Johnson’s Is It Because I’m Black?

Yeza’s track is a re-interpretation of the classic ‘70s track by Syl Johnson.

It was re-recorded as a roots version by another rising roots star Samory I for Rory Stone Love’s Black Dub Label.

This was one of the standout moments on his critically acclaimed debut album, Black Gold.

Yeza let me know that Rory was behind the idea of the new remix.

“There is a whole heap of things mi haffi say pon da topic ya, so probably when you listen to the track it can seem like information overload cos that’s the stuff that me read ‘bout cah black history is very dear to me,” she says emphatically.

Yeza describes herself as a no-nonsense artist when it comes to the message she delivers through her music, – but she does it with a difference.

“A little bit of militancy with a little bit of sexy!,” she says, smiling.

Her imposing stature was in evidence while we was in the Big Yard rehearsal studio – the type of presence that makes you aware that if you say the wrong thing you will be quickly put into place. She continued to tell me: “As a female I have a message for the people ‘cos I think its lacking from the females speaking out against a lot of the things at the moment.

INJUSTICES

“I don’t want to be too preachy, but I want to be the voice that is there, that I don’t see is there to speak about the injustices around the world.

“One of the key things that I stand for is moving forward and being a rebel and not being apologetic about that.

“A lot of people them feel like because of other standards out there that they should just curl up into their shell and refrain from being the person they want to be truly, but I disagree.”

She adds: “Whoever wants to get mad and whoever don’t like it that’s up to them.

“You are here to leave a specific blueprint on this world and nobody else has that blueprint but you, so there should be nothing to stop you expressing that.”

This was refreshing to hear from a young artist without the fear of being blocked from the system because of her principles.

The music needs more of this – so let’s redress the balance, shall we?

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