Dominica's Reggae musicians in the spotlight
Harry "Runaway Slave" Mo, brother local performance poet and cultural officer Ras Mo, is on his way musically with his latest album release "On my way". Harry Mo who visited Dominica recently, to launch this latest project is based in the Virgin Islands where he has gained a following as one of the non-Jamaican reggae musician/ singers and is influencing the public with his profound lyrics.
This project begins with "Freedom City" a satirical look at any land of the free city who espouses a superficial democracy. 'Land of the free' he cries out yet "Babylon want to take your freedom away."
This next number evolves into a journey back to Africa "I am on my way….mother Africa is on my mind; so close to Jah, Jah throne" An escape from this evil world to Zion; that's the mission of Harry Mo
"A Lion in these crucial times…Mama Africa my mind" Nostalgic…..hopeful! That cry transforms logically in "Sunny day," track # 3; a metaphor for new beginnings, a conquering of new horizons. He is deeply reflective as he calls out for the day's sunlight to inspire and talk to him. Harry Mo questions "What have you got for me today?"He personifies that the 'ray of sunlight kisses my eyes' in the early morning time; alas something good may just come his way!
Now his most melodious refrain comes in chastising the imposters who give Rastaman a bad name by their life of wickedness and crime. "Stay far from them" Harry Mo advises. "A whole lotta dem gonna call on "Selassie I name" when their behavior is really a shame he laments, in this wonderful haunting melody. We are reminded of the Biblical truth in this track that it is not all those who say 'Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom' and that 'there will be many surprises in Heaven.'
Then its social commentary time as a call is issued to "Silence de Violence" followed by another appeal to "Shine your light' which begins with a haunting guitar riffs calling us to make a difference by making the right choices cause we all have to live with it. He addresses warring factions of the world to come together, make a difference- "now is the time to take a stance, the more you give, more you receive…light a fire in the night" Frere Soul of Grammax fame is also credited with co- writing this track and assisted with guitar works on a couple others.
Track # 7 gives thanks and praise to the "Creator' and features one call Amy sharing the vocal spotlight. He calls for a "One race world' using the analogy that the Creator is the vine from which has sprung these many branches that makes up the human race, hence color or race is not a factor, it's all about , one blood and that universal color is RED.
You can see apart from the richness of the language that Harry Mo exercised a lot of thought not only in his lyrics but in assembling his songs because the next track ask all of us to "Pray for love" It is deliberate, instructive and the only slow, Nyabingi rendition; exploring the vocal depth of the artiste and showing up another side of Harry. This is followed by "No love for us" hence the prayer for love which proceeded. He admonishes those concerned that "they have no love for the people". Who the cap fits let them wear it, Harry Mo calls no name but it's clear in the end who are the schemers that he referred to.
His next number appeals of course, to the feet, its lighter and less contemplative. Harry Mo contends that we should all ease up the stress of life with a "little fun time'. It's groovy and has a swing suited for the dance halls. Rebel music with a bouncy bass line and melodious guitar riff similar to Marley's "Stir it up" follows in a the same vein and finally a tribute to his homeland, Dominica, in the patriotic "Mama Dominica" to which he proclaims unfettered love in English and Creole infusions. Wonderful work.
In addition to Harry Mo's, I listened to another album recently. Reggae artist Nelly Stharre again handed me the latest CD of Dominican reggae artiste, Castle Bruce born Trevy Felix of the Boom Shaka Band another reggae veteran based in the US who has well over 30 years in the business. He is now receiving greatest recognition for his composition "Everyday "which features David Nolan and Karen Grant. "Everyday" is now getting rave reviews as a pop ballad. A departure from the root reggae, he presents his solo release and refers to it as acoustic reggae. Indeed he is seen on the cover with his acoustic guitar in African attire, standing in a pensive mood. This song inspires and can be described as a happy song which all and sundry can sing along and dance to. On this 11 track album, only the title track and 'Super star 'were not written by the artiste.
Interestingly collaborations were done on all 11 tracks most notably by the world renowned Jamaicans rhythm twins Sly and Robbie Shakespeare and the work is published by Wikkid Records. For instance 'God, Country and King' features , Eazy and Wadigad and Lady dread accompanies him on Gun Shot again to lament the slaying of some black heroes like Malcom X.
'Resistance' the title track reminds that the resistance of the people will never grow cold as it was written in stone, freedom of the people is a must as Trevy rejects the notion of being a conquered people as history has so wrongfully taught.