WHERE I STAND This section is meant to give you my take on certain crucial issues in the reggae community. What I have come to know. Why I am playing this music, etc. I will try and be concise and give a true summation of the topic, knowing full well that certain questions deserve more reasonings than delivered here. (****2012 Update. In parenthesis, will be any additional thoughts to Where I Stand, as this section has received the most feedback over the years****)
AM I A RASTAFARIAN
I am that I am, though I do not consider myself a Rastafarian. Rastafarians are people of intense religious faith, following written doctrine, and knowledge that Emperor Haile Salassie of Ethiopia is the true living God. Rastafarian faith is as complex as all other faiths, to try and regurgitate all I have took in on the subject would be redundant. I will say that reggae music introduced the Rastafarian religion to I. The daily sacrament of herbs being a common thread, I penetrated their interpretation of this world. The word, sound, power of JAH RASTAFARI! still resounds in my soul. As does scripture from a few other religions. Ultimately, I know that all religions are a by-product of us humans perception of our world and our evolution in it. This evolutionary view differs greatly from the religious view, which basically sees the earth as the work of God and made for the use of man. I see the universe, with earth in it, as an entity so much bigger and complex than any human could ever hope to overstand. Science is trying to learn more, I am on that train. ( I should have said " on that space craft ", because what we are learning of our galaxy, as well as the many other galaxies, even venturing outside our universe, will hopefully finally open everyones mind to the true timeline of our planet and its uniqueness therein. Following Earth's timeline, thus life's and humans' timeline, takes us unequivecally to the realities of evolution on our planet. Not only the obvious evolution of humans from our animal kingdom, but the continued evolution of the human brain, the science of which fascinates me equally with that of the cosmos. )
WHY USE JAH IN THE LYRICS
Jah is a word that has evolved inside I. Though strictly held by some as a synonym for God, I praise the sun, water, plants, trees, food, animals etc. These natural things that would be here whether humans were present or not, these things we share with the dinosaurs and inhabitants of Pangea are Jah to me. The spirit of love that has evolved and our ability to recognize it is Jah to me. The connection we share with our animals, their ability to love and show feelings and never asking us to join their church, is Jah to me. Mostly, every time I see or experience a peaceful, uninhabited natural setting I feel I am in the presence of Jah, that presence being not a made for humans feeling but a wow!, I am lucky to be alive on this earth at such time feeling.(****Since the definition above isn't imprinted on most reggae listeners minds, I am now refraining from using symbolic religious names and such. I will use words of the Earth, with Love being the highest word of humanity)
NOT A RASTAFARIAN, STILL A RASTA
I am one of many who loved reggae music of the 70's and the Rastafarian message, but couldn't commit completely to that religious sect. However, we did commit to some of the fights being fought by the reggae soldiers. Equal rights and justice, a stop to discrimination based on color of skin and the inherent ignorance therein, a stop to the 1940's determination of the illegality of smoking/using herb to heal ourselves, a stop to corrupt governments using propaganda to confuse the uninformed and manipulate the votes to better serve them and their special interests. Though these messages came from Jamaica and that country's strife, these were messages that were relatable by many other nations, including the U.S. In my view, the 1980's saw the Rastas begin to take on the role of social activists, political activists, etc. many wore the dreadlocks in a sign of their affiliation, some did not. Rastas were descendants of the Rastafarians, less motivated to convert you or repatriate, and more motivated to be a part of the social consciousness of more awareness and the need to grow and learn and change. For some, there is no separation. To be a Rasta you must be a Rastafarian. For others, a deep respect for Rastafarian religion and the commitment to see through the fights mentioned above is what makes up a good portion of self-proclaimed Rastas today.
WHY I ( don't) HAVE DREADLOCKS
Though I first saw dreadlocks on reggae albums, and very soon thereafter on the heads of Hindu tayagis, I did not dread myself until some years later. I didn't just want to jump on a hairstyle bandwagon or mimic my idols but have a reasoning within myself for wearing the locks. After much consideration, I knew I wanted to wear locks out of respect for the evolution of humanity. I just felt that many humans, or pre-humans even probably without much thought, had had their hair naturally twist into these beautiful dreads. I even feel ( but have no proof), that dreads could have been used as ropes or tools of early humanity. Regardless, on the vanity side, I do think dreads look beautiful on people, yet even more so when the heart and soul of a loving being seeking knowledge and consciousness is nurturing them.(****It is now 2012, and I have been without dreads for five years. I wore them for thirteen. As a promise to my mother and myself, no music contract or feasible monetary future in music by 2007, off they went. I miss, at times, the tam full of knots of hair, with the length and fullness of your own life, and the visual reminder of peace and social consciousness they exude, to so many of us. I have also remembered how so many beautiful people in this world do not wear dreads and do things of social magnitude or selfless livication just the same. My convictions are unaltered by what my hair looks like. I may wear dreads again, if for no other reason than, I will know what my hair will look like everyday :)
WAR AND PEACE
Obviously, I want everyone to live in harmony with each other. The nature of the evolution of man does not allow this. Since one family walking across the plains saw another family or tribe walking across the plains, there has been fear, suspicion, curiosity, primal judgments and the need to protect and survive. Sadly in some places even today, the same instincts do not allow certain groups of people to mingle or overcome these primal fears. Throw into the mix the ideology of religion and its many interpretations and even more divisive walls are built. War is just the climax of these inabilities to communicate and overstand other beings not like us. I am against war, yet I love my freedom and shed tears more freely now for all the soldiers who ever had to go to war so I can write this and say I am against it. I am positive they did not want to die, and I know they did so others will not have to. I know in this day that a military still needs to be strong and I support my military and want them to be happy and prosperous as members of our country. My trouble with war usually rests with the people sending them there and their reasonings for it. I feel we as a country need to be more involved and informed in deciding our foreign policy. When the government becomes we the people, of the people, for the people again we may see a progression towards worldly peace. If the government remains a tool of the rich and oil hungry, we will see our troops fighting wars against former allies using weapons we sold them. (**** The military industrial complex still runs things, because money still runs things. You can cry for Obama, or a woman president, a democrat or republican or a green, but there is now a war on terror. A war that can never be won, but can be used to control our government, and thus big business/money, and thus effect every "election" from here to the next american revolution.)
I personally have nothing against law enforcement. We need laws and people hired to make sure they are upheld. My problem rests with two things, the ridiculous drug war and its inclusion of herb as a substance worthy of giving police the right to make our life hell, and plain old dirty cops with little brain power using their position of authority to profile, judge, and harass people of color or dread. I have met very intelligent, open-minded officers who know herb is not the problem in our society. I have also met officers who feel their sole purpose rests in busting "pot-heads". In any case, I have heard some Rasta circles continually vex at the police and the police seem to give it back to them. Only when we change the outdated laws against our blessing of herbs will the police see they actually have a supporter in us. We will sit in our front yards with our families with spliff in hand telling the police which way the bad guys went, calling them over when we something suspicious, helping in their quest to rid our country of clueless criminals with only evil, selfish intentions in mind. I will continue to try and change the laws and bridge the propaganda-filled, drug war misdirection gap that separates us and these fellow Americans.
A plant that I have enjoyed the healing powers of for 20 years. It has made me love myself and others more from day one. It has never been a gateway to more powerful hard drugs or evil doing ever. ( I have found alcohol in excess was actually the gateway to stupidity for I.) In truth, herb helped me see that harder drugs were not for me, and that alcohol had its place and limits. Though it affects each soul differently, I know there are many other good, honest, law-abiding citizens who choose herb as their relief from the stresses of life, as opposed to say alcohol or cigarettes or pharmaceuticals. To say I and these others are criminals or a danger to society to be locked up is preposterous, and I will livicate my music and career to changing these misperceptions of herb I-tinually.
For I, reggae music is the perfect medium to inform my fellow people and continue to fight the good fight on behalf of goodness over evil or babylon. Roots reggae has always been conscious, message music layered over hypnotic rhythms that penetrate long after you turned off the music. I LOVE the challenge and creative process of writing new songs with new rhythms and instrumentations. As well as trying to form lyrics that are relevant for today, while respecting our past and always looking to the future. So for now, I will continue to reach our fellow reggae lovers on college and public radio avenues, Youtube and streaming services around the web and further bring us together when I an I come to town with my fellow musicians for a night of love and light, truth and right, and positive vibrations for all.