Playlist for Disturbers of the Peace book party, March 27th, 2014
African-American Resource Center (AARC)
York College, CUNY
by Rishi Nath
In celebration of the release of Dr. Kelly Baker Josephs’ book, Disturbers of the Peace—a careful look at the many incarnations and uses of madness in Anglophone Caribbean literature—I have compiled a list of songs which intersect in topic or theme with madness. These fourteen songs span reggae, dancehall, soca and chutney, and reflect the richness of meanings that the word “mad” can have in the region.
1) Bob Marley and the Wailers “Crazy Baldheads” (1976): Here madness is projected onto the oppressors who persecute Rastafarians. They will be chased away
2) Burning Spear “Man In The Hills” (1976): The great Winston Rodney suggests retreating into the hills. Much like Gurudev in V.S. Naipaul’s Mimic Men.
3) Judy Mowatt “Screwface” (1980): Ghosts and bad people know “who fi frighten,” the former background singer for Bob Marley sings.
4) Yellowman “Mad Over Me” (1983): Women, Yellowman—the first dancehall superstar—informs us, go “mad” over him.
5) Ninja Man “Mad Again” (2004): The undisputed champion of lyrical “clash” returns, and his detractors, he says, are fuming mad.
6) Square One (featuring Alison Hinds) “Iron Bazodee” (2000): The protagonist of this song loses her mind in the jouvay celebration, and forgets her husband temporarily.
7) Supercat “Nuff Man A Die” (1992): In the fallout from political and drug battles in Kingston, Supercat recounts the number of dancehall artists who died, and his resulting sleeplessness and paranoia.
8) Machel Montano “Craziness” (2004): Another in a long line of songs making explicit the connection between madness and carnival. Done in a “jump up” or “power” soca style. “Get mad! Everybody head gone!”
9) Bunji Garlin “Yuh Mad Or Wha” (2005): Trinidadian raga soca artist takes aim at Jamaican reggae singer I-Wayne for disparaging calypso. “Yuh Mad Or Wha?” he asks him.
10) KI “No Conduct” (2014): “Don’t tell me bout conduct, we not behaving at all”—soca chutney artist KI describes his carnival “behavior.”
11) Kerwin Du Bois & Blaxx “Good Time” (2011): The “soucouyant is coming”, but a fearless Kerwin DuBois and Blaxx are prepared with their spiritual talismans. “The myth of the soucouyant structures David Chariandy’s first novel,” Josephs writes (pg. 148)
12) Crazy “He Mad” (2012): Trinidad’s irreverent calypsonian meditates on clinical lunacy and socially acceptable madness and variant gender identity. “I thought I was King Crazy! But he is **king crazy.”
13) Buju Banton “Mad Over Me” (2008): Gargamel reprises the great Yellow.
14) Moses Charles “Danger” (2014): Charles, an Afro-Trinidadian, has been making a name for himself in the generally Indo-Trinidadian style of chutney. Here he sees allegorical “danger” in the eyes of a prospective lover.