Jah9 – Legitimate

It’s hard to describe the epicness of this song.  I think that’s why this post has been draft mode for the last few weeks.  This track is from Jah9’s debut album called “New Name” which was released in 2013.  I recently purchased the album after seeing this BBC1Xtra performance. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the album, and this track stood out in particular for me.  I would say it’s definitely one of the most lyrically potent tunes I have heard in a while.  The song starts with some flying cymbals (a staple of Jamaican music in the 60’s and 70’s) followed by a haunting piano riff.  A hypnotic bass line then kicks in, which prepares you to enter an almost meditative state.  Now, with a sense of heightened awareness and an open heart, you are ready to receive her message.  Her lyrics are bittersweet, as she rails against the injustice of Babylon, while at the same time pleading for love and understanding among all members of the human race.  The soul stirring passion in her voice is undeniable, and it’s hard not to get goosebumps when you REALLY listen to this song.

The first verse is a damning indictment of the plutocratic system responsible for much of the misery and brutality we see in the world today.  Neither capitalism nor democracy in their purest forms are inherently evil, but we need to recognize that our current implementations of them are a farce.  The concentration of wealth among the few is not just an issue of income inequality or fairness, but about the unprincipled use of power and influence.

“Legitimate or not,
Some claim indemnity from the original plot,
as though their integrity could still be intact.
What is likelihood of that,
if you trace the source of each resource they’ve got.
They’re tapped into the veins of the masses, the system maintains
feeding on their youthfulness and draining from their brains.
Then when the weak ones are rejected, armed and turned toward the strife,
they return with force and take away their life.”

Her second verse is an affirmation of black pride, but even as someone of Indian heritage, these words are relatable on a few different levels.  Jah9 references the misguided use of lye as a hair relaxer by some to essentially neutralize the “blackness” of their hair.  In a similar vein, Indian culture has long been obsessed with having fair skin, to the point of making it a pre-requisite for what is considered beautiful.  I have always rejected this notion and found this illogical infatuation very perplexing.  Why deny who you are, and look to others as a model of beauty?  This simply re-enforces an inferiority complex which helps keep the downtrodden and oppressed in place.  She also speaks to the power and significance of her locks.  When Bob Marley was asked why his dreadlocks were important, he said that they were his identity.  While they do not wear locks, having unshorn hair has also been part of the identity of members of the Sikh faith for centuries.  In Hinduism, sages and sadhus in India have worn locks for millenia.

“Yes I remember the censorship of showing your roots.
Deception with no lye conditioning for the youths.
Straightening their follicles while twisting their minds.
Replacing old tradition with their programs for decline.
But as I rebel my natty swells defiant of the taming.
My natural advantage I’m proclaiming.
These spirals map the course of life and represent the force of life,
connected to the source of life.”

I don’t typically include song lyrics in my TickuTalk posts, but I just had this uncanny feeling that I was listening to a something that Bob Marley would have written.  Poetic and powerful all at the same time.  Anyways, check out the song below and see what you think:

Coincidentally, the version above is NOT the version on the album.  The album version actually features Protoje, who blesses this track with a verse as well.  Although there are no real visuals for this version it does contain all the lyrics:

Both versions are great, but I prefer the first version because of the visuals.  I think being able to see the energy and emotion with which she performs really goes a long way in terms of being to empathize with her message.

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