Cover image for Reggae wisdom : proverbs in Jamaican music
Title:
Reggae wisdom : proverbs in Jamaican music
Author:
Prahlad, Anand.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xxiv, 302 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
The original man : culture and ideology, a contextual frame -- Jah message to preach : personas and rhetorical aesthetics -- No cup no mash : proverbs in Jamaican society -- New brooms sweep clean : proverbs and the rhetorical strategies of address in reggae discourse -- Still water run deep : proverbs of the Itals -- Fire, core, and pots : proverbs of Bob (Robert Nesta) Marley, O.M. -- Appendix 1. Partial discography -- Appendix 2. List of major proverb users -- Appendix 3. Interview with Keith Porter -- Appendix 4. List of proverbs by the Itals and Bob Marley, by album and song -- Appendix 5. Proverb index.
ISBN:
9781578063192

9781578063208
Format :
Book

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Central Library ML3532 .P73 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, the Itals, the Ethiopians-they all dropped dazzling proverbs into their best known reggae tunes.

"What come bad in the morning, can't come good in the evening."

"They love to give you a basket to carry water."

"The harder the battle be, ago sweeter the victory."

In Reggae Wisdom: Proverbs in Jamaican Music Swami Anand Prahlad looks at the contexts and origins of these proverbs, using them as a cultural sheet music toward understanding the history of Jamaican culture, Rastafari religion, and the music that is that culture's worldwide voice.

Prahlad's fieldwork in Jamaica is extensive. For him, the study of Jamaican sayings and music is not only an academic endeavor. It is also a personal and poetic exploration. Prahlad says, "I am writing not only as a folklorist but also as a member of the international reggae community, a group of people around the globe who look to this music for its joy, wisdom, and strength."

His unique, groundbreaking study argues that contemporary reggae artists are self-styled Rastafari priests for an international community of listeners and devotees. These "warrior/priests" serve as educators, healers, prophets, advisers, and social critics. Their proverbs become sources of strength and inspiration for members of the reggae community.

Several chapters in Reggae Wisdom offer important insights into Rastafari ideology, the history of reggae, the life and folk culture of Jamaican communities, and the recording scene that gave rise to roots reggae. One chapter, based on the author's fieldwork in Jamaica, considers the use of proverbs by ordinary individuals in Jamaican society. Other chapters focus on proverbs used by musical artists such as Bob Marley. Chapters also explore the contexts of album cover art, promotional materials, concert venues, and performance styles and conventions.

As Prahlad says, "What better way to enter this rich and powerful, eclectic world of sound and sense than through the magical world of proverbs?"

Swami Anand Prahlad is an associate professor of English and anthropology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is the author of African American Proverbs in Context (University Press of Mississippi).


Summary

Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, the Itals, the Ethiopians-they all dropped dazzling proverbs into their best known reggae tunes.

"What come bad in the morning, can't come good in the evening."

"They love to give you a basket to carry water."

"The harder the battle be, ago sweeter the victory."

In Reggae Wisdom: Proverbs in Jamaican Music Swami Anand Prahlad looks at the contexts and origins of these proverbs, using them as a cultural sheet music toward understanding the history of Jamaican culture, Rastafari religion, and the music that is that culture's worldwide voice.

Prahlad's fieldwork in Jamaica is extensive. For him, the study of Jamaican sayings and music is not only an academic endeavor. It is also a personal and poetic exploration. Prahlad says, "I am writing not only as a folklorist but also as a member of the international reggae community, a group of people around the globe who look to this music for its joy, wisdom, and strength."

His unique, groundbreaking study argues that contemporary reggae artists are self-styled Rastafari priests for an international community of listeners and devotees. These "warrior/priests" serve as educators, healers, prophets, advisers, and social critics. Their proverbs become sources of strength and inspiration for members of the reggae community.

Several chapters in Reggae Wisdom offer important insights into Rastafari ideology, the history of reggae, the life and folk culture of Jamaican communities, and the recording scene that gave rise to roots reggae. One chapter, based on the author's fieldwork in Jamaica, considers the use of proverbs by ordinary individuals in Jamaican society. Other chapters focus on proverbs used by musical artists such as Bob Marley. Chapters also explore the contexts of album cover art, promotional materials, concert venues, and performance styles and conventions.

As Prahlad says, "What better way to enter this rich and powerful, eclectic world of sound and sense than through the magical world of proverbs?"

Swami Anand Prahlad is an associate professor of English and anthropology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is the author of African American Proverbs in Context (University Press of Mississippi).


Author Notes

Swami Anand Prahlad, an associate professor of English and anthropology at the University of Missouri at Columbia


Swami Anand Prahlad, an associate professor of English and anthropology at the University of Missouri at Columbia


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Complementing Prahlad's African-American Proverbs in Context (CH, Jan'97), this volume liberates proverbial language from artifact by placing proverbs in a living context that gives them meaning. In the early chapters Prahlad (English and anthropology, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia) reveals a keen understanding of Jamaican folklore. He then examines the use of proverbs in everyday Jamaican life, drawing examples from the media and conversations with a wide cross-section of Jamaican society, in particular taxi drivers. He discusses the importance of Rastafari influences on reggae and of Jamaican anticolonial history and the centrality of Africa. The finest parts of the book are the final chapters, in which Prahlad analyzes the imaginative use of proverbs in the songs of reggae performers such as Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and the Itals. He includes rich examples from their songs interlaced with his own social, political, cultural, and aesthetic insights. Here he argues, among other things, that proverbs are used to help resolve conflicts presented in the lyrics. The five appendixes are a bit daunting but include a limited discography, an index of Jamaican proverbs, and a fine reference section. All collections--folklore, cultural history, anthropology, and literature as well as music. C. Pike University of Minnesota


Choice Review

Complementing Prahlad's African-American Proverbs in Context (CH, Jan'97), this volume liberates proverbial language from artifact by placing proverbs in a living context that gives them meaning. In the early chapters Prahlad (English and anthropology, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia) reveals a keen understanding of Jamaican folklore. He then examines the use of proverbs in everyday Jamaican life, drawing examples from the media and conversations with a wide cross-section of Jamaican society, in particular taxi drivers. He discusses the importance of Rastafari influences on reggae and of Jamaican anticolonial history and the centrality of Africa. The finest parts of the book are the final chapters, in which Prahlad analyzes the imaginative use of proverbs in the songs of reggae performers such as Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and the Itals. He includes rich examples from their songs interlaced with his own social, political, cultural, and aesthetic insights. Here he argues, among other things, that proverbs are used to help resolve conflicts presented in the lyrics. The five appendixes are a bit daunting but include a limited discography, an index of Jamaican proverbs, and a fine reference section. All collections--folklore, cultural history, anthropology, and literature as well as music. C. Pike University of Minnesota


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One THE ORIGINAL MAN * * * Culture and Ideology; A Contextual Frame Do you remember the days of slavery? Do you remember the days of slavery? Do you remember? Do you remember? Burning Spear, "Slavery Days," Marcus Garvey I'm the original man, straight from creation, the original man. Andrew Tosh, "Original Man," Original Man A contextual study of proverbs in reggae is challenging for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that one has to rely primarily on textual fragments lifted from the musical and performative contexts in which the proverbs live. There is no completely satisfactory way to treat oralic discourse in the textual media of print. In my previous study of African American proverbs in context (1996), I extended the argument made by others (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1981, Jordan 1982, Levy and Zumwalt 1990) that proverbs "mean" only in context; that there is no singularly "correct" interpretation for any proverb but instead multiple meanings generated by different speakers/hearers in varying situations. In an attempt to account for this multiplicity of interpretations, I theorized four levels of meaning that operate simultaneously when proverbs are used. Those levels are the grammatical , the social , the situational , and the symbolic . In short, the grammatical meaning is the literal translation of the proverb. The social is the meaning generally understood within a particular group. The situational meaning refers to how the proverb is used rhetorically in any given instance. Finally, the symbolic meaning suggests the personal associative images and meanings that a speaker or listener brings to a given proverb speech act as a result of past experiences with the proverb.     Looking at proverbs in reggae poses different kinds of problems from those I encountered in my study of African American proverbs. There are no person-to-person speech acts, per se, but rather recordings--and in some cases live performances--of songs in which proverbs are used. The proverb lives as a part of a performed sound event in which the actual speaker is not so significant as the persona being employed in the song. Thus the levels of proverb meaning are more restricted in this study. I am concerned only occasionally, for instance, with the symbolic associations that proverbs might hold for particular speakers or listeners. Nor am I very concerned with situational meanings, for in the case of recordings there is no specific interactional situation about which to refer. The social level of meaning, however, becomes a major focus of my concern. Undoubtedly each listener will give the proverbs slightly different nuances of interpretation, an assumption that is made by the songwriters who are often deliberately vague to elicit multiple interpretations. At the same time, however, songwriters are also hopeful that an awareness of their ideological perspectives will inform the listeners' interpretations.     A concentration on the social level of meaning necessitates a thorough exploration of the worldview of the group from which the speakers come--in this case African Jamaican Rastafari. While I wish to avoid the common practice of narrowly viewing proverbs as reflections of group "values," it is important to understand the cultural and historical factors that shape the perspectives and concerns of the artists whose lyrics are under discussion. Otherwise, one cannot fully appreciate the distinct uses of proverbs within reggae compared with their uses within other song traditions. For example, Folsom (1993c) notes that the proverbs Everything that glitters is not gold, Absence makes the heart grow fonder, Still waters run deep, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Where there's a will there's a way, and A rolling stone gathers no moss are found in American country music. Taft (1994) and Prahlad (1996) examine a plethora of proverbial expressions found in African American blues music, including You reap what you sow, A rolling stone gathers no moss, You never miss your water until your well runs dry, The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice, Don't bite the hand that feeds you, Seeing is believing, Don't burn your bridges behind you, and To jump from the frying pan into the fire . As it turns out, all of these proverbs are also used in reggae; but, as one would expect, there they carry different shades of meaning. To a large extent the differences result from the radically distinct worldviews informing blues, country music, and reggae.     An examination of the cultural context out of which these songs arise is also essential to understanding the aesthetic dimensions of the lyrics, including poetic devices, timing, innovations in syntax, and relationships to musical elements. Because Jamaica has retained such a strong African heritage, its proverbial speech is more African-influenced than parallel speech behavior among African Americans. Numerous scholars have written on the general importance of proverbial speech across the continent of Africa (e.g., Finnegan 1970; Christensen 1958; Messenger 1959; Oledzki 1979; Crepeau 1978; Yankah 1989a, 1989b), where it is said by the Yoruba that "Proverbs are the horses of speech; if communication is lost, we use proverbs to find it" (Priebe 1971, 26). Even more scholars have studied specific applications of proverbs within particular African groups. For instance, Evans-Pritchard (1963a, 4) and Finnegan (1970, 424) both discuss the uses of proverbs among the Azande as a part of sanza , or veiled insult. Yankah has written the most on contextualized uses of proverbs, discussing aesthetic dimensions of them among the Alcan (1989).     A number of studies provide information on the uses of proverbs in African song traditions. Knappert's exegesis (1997) of Swahili proverbs in songs is a glimpse into a fascinating tradition of proverbs in Islamic poetry and song, covering a wide range of areas, including work, love, marriage, hymns, epics, and political song. Ogede's insightful essay on proverbs in the praise songs of the Igede (1993) provides an intimate look at the use of proverbs by an African bard, Michah Ichegbeh. Among other things, we learn from these articles about the strong African tradition of proverb use in song as forms of social critique and to boost the spirits of warriors. But what distinguishes Jamaican proverbial speech from that of the above-mentioned groups on the African continent? Furthermore, what aesthetic influences do the beliefs and practices of Rastafari add to Jamaican proverb use? How do other influences such as biblical, American, African American, and British enter into this sociolinguistic equation? To what extent does the medium of popular music affect the encoding and decoding of reggae proverbs? And finally, how are these influences realized in the proverbial language of reggae discourse? For answers to these questions, we must begin with an investigation of the cultural and ideological context from which reggae discourse arises. The Proverbs In Michael Taft's essay on proverbs in blues lyrics, he concludes that although proverbs are not uncommon in blues, they are relatively infrequent. He only found about twenty-five proverbs, thirty-six proverbial comparisons, and fifteen proverbial expressions in several thousand blues texts. I have not undertaken the same kind of statistical survey of reggae, nor have I listened extensively to all types of reggae music. My survey does suggest, however, that proverbs are frequently found in a certain kind of reggae and, more specifically, that the lyrics of particular artists are especially rich in proverbial expressions. These artists include Culture, Bob Marley, the Itals, the Wailing Souls, and to a lesser degree Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, and Justin Hinds and the Dominoes.     We might conclude from this, therefore, that such artists are proverb masters (Prahlad 1996) and that it is their mastery of proverbial speech more than the genre of reggae itself that accounts for the proliferation of proverbial items in their works. It must certainly be more than coincidence, however, that these artists share ideological orientations, reached the height of their artistry around the same time period of reggae's development, and all play "roots" reggae. Undoubtedly, there is some connection between the emergence of proverb masters and these other factors. The generally recognized periods of Jamaican popular music are ska, rock steady, reggae, dancehall, and ragga. Although some critics refer to all of these periods as "reggae," each period is, in fact, marked by distinct musical and lyrical elements. The category of "roots" was most prominent during the rock steady and reggae periods. The roots category refers to reggae that is inspired by Rastafari ideology (as well as musical and lyrical aesthetics). This includes a conscious effort to celebrate various African-influenced cultural elements, including but not limited to verbal expressions. Reasons for the prevalent use of proverbs in this type of reggae will become apparent as this study unfolds.     In addition to "traditional" proverbs--those that have already been documented in a previous collection--I am also concerned with so-called invented expressions in this study--hence, with the issue of proverbiality as well as with proverbs proper. Within the context of reggae discourse, phrases are used effectively as proverbs even though they may have no established traditionality prior to the lyrics of a particular song. Several factors facilitate this. Many of the proverbs used in reggae discourse are Jamaican and are thus unfamiliar to a large percentage of the foreign reggae audience. Therefore, foreign audiences are commonly confronted with expressions that sound proverbial but of which they have no previous knowledge. Why should such listeners respond any differently to invented expressions than to those that are, in fact, traditional? Rather, it is more likely that invented expressions can succeed rhetorically because they sound proverbial, and within the context of a song the rhetoric of sound is paramount. Arora (1994) has demonstrated in her study of Hispanic proverbs and speakers that listeners often assume proverbiality based on the sound of an expression. My study of blues lyrics also indicated that proverbs were often found with accompanying lines that sounded proverbial (1996, 81-90). It would prove negligent to ignore examples of invented proverbs in reggae discourse, especially if the aesthetic rhetoric of the lyrics is a main concern. Ideological Influences in Reggae The lyrics and rhetorical strategies of reggae reflect a wide range of influences. Proverbs, for instance, which sparkle like diamonds among other precious stones, are one of many traditional genres that find their way into this music. In order to understand the role proverbs play, however, the connection between them and other genres must be explored; at the same time, we have to survey the general and specific cultural contexts out of which these oral traditions emerge. Such an examination of Jamaican traditions is particularly complex, as it includes elements from the rich and diverse African heritages represented in different parts of the country; a variety of religious and secular folk groups, dialects, and performance styles; a dense fabric of mythology, legend, ritual, and belief; and a charged history of political and social movements that have had no small impact on the aesthetics of proverb use. In fact, I will only have time briefly to mention these components, which are extensive enough to require multiple volumes to give them the scrutiny they deserve. The dominant worldview influencing the construction of roots reggae is, of course, Rastafari. Hence, this chapter is concerned with the ideology of this mystical religion in the historical context of Jamaican society and, specifically, with those elements that have the most profound impact on reggae discourse. Narrative personas and the diverse rhetorical genres that comprise reggae will be explored in the next chapter.     Before the advent of Rastafari influence in reggae, the lyrics and music were less rhetorically complex. Early reggae was dominated by lyrical trends borrowed from American rhythm and blues and from soul music. With the development of ska and rock steady, we see the inclusion of more purely Jamaican aesthetics. It was not until reggae artists began their conversion to Rastafari, however, that elements of African Jamaican culture moved to the forefront as symbols of identity and pride, and as markers of aesthetic standards. One can compare this period in Jamaican music to the Black Arts Movement in African American poetry. Beginning with the Black Arts Movement, African American poets rejected English standards of poetry, turning instead to their own oral traditions to define the parameters of their aesthetics. While earlier poets, such as Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, and James Weldon Johnson, may have occasionally relied upon oral traditions, most poets began doing so after the Black Arts Movement. Hence, the African American poetic aesthetic was permanently changed. My discussion of reggae, then, begins with a comparable period of dramatic change in the way in which Jamaican reggae was conceptualized.     One of Rastafari's most significant contributions to reggae was the impact on the narrative personas used by singers in their lyrics, lives, and performances. The spread of Rastafari eventually heralded a new age of consciousness, an era in which many Jamaicans--not only reggae artists--would experience a fundamental transformation of identity. With this new identity came forms of self-presentation, a new voice, and an altered relationship to elements of Jamaican and African culture. The role that the music played in society and the nature of the audience also changed. Prior to 1945, for example, "the radio stations of Jamaica continuously played the music of white America--Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Doris Day and Neil Sedaka" (Campbell 1987, 126), and early singers aspired to an aesthetic for popular and "worthwhile" music that was based upon European and American aesthetics.     The introduction of Rastafari elements into Jamaican music coincided with the emergence of ska and the tradition of "sound systems." Sound systems developed in the mid 1950s as a reactionary response to the neocolonial control of Jamaican airways. In fact, many people had no access to radios because they could not afford to buy them. Sound systems brought people together in large yards, in Kingston and rural areas, where "the music of Jamaica and black America could be played without restraint" (Campbell 1987, 127), where they could dance, party, and have a good time. The name "sound system" referred to the powerful, large sound systems (amplifiers, turntables, and speakers) that the deejays used and that were the heart of these gatherings. Deejays such as Duke Reid and Clement Seymour Dodd competed with each other for the best sounds and largest crowds, beginning a tradition that remains an integral part of the Jamaican music scene today. Jones writes: "To date the sound [system] remains the principal context of musical activity for a large proportion of the black working class, and one of the main institutions through which reggae's audience is able to exert some control over the music, by demanding danceable and relevant music" (1988, 30). In many ways, sound systems are comparable to secret nocturnal meetings held by slaves in bush arbors (hidden meeting sites) or other out-of-the-way places. These meetings allowed slaves the opportunity to sing, dance, and worship in the manner they preferred, but which was forbidden by slaveowners. Sound systems were a continuation of a tradition of resistance that characterized every slave and neocolonial settlement of Africans in the Western world.     During the period of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Rastafari influence in Jamaican music emerged, alongside songs that addressed social problems. This period is marked by the Folks Brothers, "Oh Carolina," which featured the burro drumming of Count Ossie, "the renown Rastafarian elder and percussionist" (Barrow 1993, 32). Campbell writes: The drumming of O Carolina heralded a new era of music, for the songs sung by the Rastafari which extolled Ethiopia and Africa were developed within the confines of the sound systems which vied with each other for supporters. Socio-religious and political songs echoed and reverberated across the gullies from the sound systems, with By the Rivers of Babylon, Let the Power Fall on I, and the Macabs Version played along with the classic instrumental records called Man in the Street, Schooling the Duke, Far East , and other music of joy, consistent with the pride of achieving the status of political independence. (127) So while the majority of singers continued to base their lyrics and performance styles on American soul and rhythm and blues, the seeds for a new musical direction had begun to send shoots up from the soil. The guiding concept of a song was still as a form of entertainment; however, a dramatic shift in this as well as in the concept of audience, as indicated by the emergence of sound systems, was in progress. Much to the dismay and discomfort of the Jamaican elite, singers began composing in the dialect of the ghetto and addressing the masses at the lower end of the social ladder: the people of the ghetto, the Dungles, and the rural parishes and shantytowns.     The new identity that began to take root among Jamaican artists included elements from a plethora of sources. The combination of these influences represents a complex synthesis of traditional Jamaican, African, African American, African Caribbean, European, and biblical components, as well as many constituents that cannot be divorced from their associations with local and international popular culture, such as allusions to American film. While some of these elements may have been of relatively new historical origins, the principles whereby the synthesis or creolization of these diverse ingredients was organized have roots in the historical experience of Africans in the New World and, more specifically, in Jamaican culture and history. I have argued elsewhere that the three major personas in roots reggae are the priest, the rudeboy, and the epic hero (Prahlad 1995). While I would like to modify these here, I will first examine the roots of these narrative personas that led to significant aspects of their philosophical orientation, aesthetic guidelines, and performance styles. Rastafari, Resistance, and Revolt Certainly the most dominant factors bearing on the philosophical and rhetorical tenor of roots reggae is Rastafari. The religion itself evolved as a culmination of a diverse set of influences and events. Its origins are sometimes cited as the crowning of King Haile Selassie in Ethiopia in 1930, which precipitated the teaching of a new religion by a number of former Garveyites, including Leonard Howell, Archibald Dunkley, Robert Hinds, and Joseph Hibbert. However, seeds of Rastafari were planted in the soil of the slave trade and the subsequent colonization of Jamaica and other Caribbean islands. This single event in Western history set the stage for the dehumanizing and oppressive conditions under which not only Jamaicans but other survivors of the African Excerpted from REGGAE WISDOM by Sw. Anand Prahlad. Copyright © 2001 by University Press of Mississippi. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Chapter One THE ORIGINAL MAN * * * Culture and Ideology; A Contextual Frame Do you remember the days of slavery? Do you remember the days of slavery? Do you remember? Do you remember? Burning Spear, "Slavery Days," Marcus Garvey I'm the original man, straight from creation, the original man. Andrew Tosh, "Original Man," Original Man A contextual study of proverbs in reggae is challenging for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that one has to rely primarily on textual fragments lifted from the musical and performative contexts in which the proverbs live. There is no completely satisfactory way to treat oralic discourse in the textual media of print. In my previous study of African American proverbs in context (1996), I extended the argument made by others (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1981, Jordan 1982, Levy and Zumwalt 1990) that proverbs "mean" only in context; that there is no singularly "correct" interpretation for any proverb but instead multiple meanings generated by different speakers/hearers in varying situations. In an attempt to account for this multiplicity of interpretations, I theorized four levels of meaning that operate simultaneously when proverbs are used. Those levels are the grammatical , the social , the situational , and the symbolic . In short, the grammatical meaning is the literal translation of the proverb. The social is the meaning generally understood within a particular group. The situational meaning refers to how the proverb is used rhetorically in any given instance. Finally, the symbolic meaning suggests the personal associative images and meanings that a speaker or listener brings to a given proverb speech act as a result of past experiences with the proverb.     Looking at proverbs in reggae poses different kinds of problems from those I encountered in my study of African American proverbs. There are no person-to-person speech acts, per se, but rather recordings--and in some cases live performances--of songs in which proverbs are used. The proverb lives as a part of a performed sound event in which the actual speaker is not so significant as the persona being employed in the song. Thus the levels of proverb meaning are more restricted in this study. I am concerned only occasionally, for instance, with the symbolic associations that proverbs might hold for particular speakers or listeners. Nor am I very concerned with situational meanings, for in the case of recordings there is no specific interactional situation about which to refer. The social level of meaning, however, becomes a major focus of my concern. Undoubtedly each listener will give the proverbs slightly different nuances of interpretation, an assumption that is made by the songwriters who are often deliberately vague to elicit multiple interpretations. At the same time, however, songwriters are also hopeful that an awareness of their ideological perspectives will inform the listeners' interpretations.     A concentration on the social level of meaning necessitates a thorough exploration of the worldview of the group from which the speakers come--in this case African Jamaican Rastafari. While I wish to avoid the common practice of narrowly viewing proverbs as reflections of group "values," it is important to understand the cultural and historical factors that shape the perspectives and concerns of the artists whose lyrics are under discussion. Otherwise, one cannot fully appreciate the distinct uses of proverbs within reggae compared with their uses within other song traditions. For example, Folsom (1993c) notes that the proverbs Everything that glitters is not gold, Absence makes the heart grow fonder, Still waters run deep, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Where there's a will there's a way, and A rolling stone gathers no moss are found in American country music. Taft (1994) and Prahlad (1996) examine a plethora of proverbial expressions found in African American blues music, including You reap what you sow, A rolling stone gathers no moss, You never miss your water until your well runs dry, The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice, Don't bite the hand that feeds you, Seeing is believing, Don't burn your bridges behind you, and To jump from the frying pan into the fire . As it turns out, all of these proverbs are also used in reggae; but, as one would expect, there they carry different shades of meaning. To a large extent the differences result from the radically distinct worldviews informing blues, country music, and reggae.     An examination of the cultural context out of which these songs arise is also essential to understanding the aesthetic dimensions of the lyrics, including poetic devices, timing, innovations in syntax, and relationships to musical elements. Because Jamaica has retained such a strong African heritage, its proverbial speech is more African-influenced than parallel speech behavior among African Americans. Numerous scholars have written on the general importance of proverbial speech across the continent of Africa (e.g., Finnegan 1970; Christensen 1958; Messenger 1959; Oledzki 1979; Crepeau 1978; Yankah 1989a, 1989b), where it is said by the Yoruba that "Proverbs are the horses of speech; if communication is lost, we use proverbs to find it" (Priebe 1971, 26). Even more scholars have studied specific applications of proverbs within particular African groups. For instance, Evans-Pritchard (1963a, 4) and Finnegan (1970, 424) both discuss the uses of proverbs among the Azande as a part of sanza , or veiled insult. Yankah has written the most on contextualized uses of proverbs, discussing aesthetic dimensions of them among the Alcan (1989).     A number of studies provide information on the uses of proverbs in African song traditions. Knappert's exegesis (1997) of Swahili proverbs in songs is a glimpse into a fascinating tradition of proverbs in Islamic poetry and song, covering a wide range of areas, including work, love, marriage, hymns, epics, and political song. Ogede's insightful essay on proverbs in the praise songs of the Igede (1993) provides an intimate look at the use of proverbs by an African bard, Michah Ichegbeh. Among other things, we learn from these articles about the strong African tradition of proverb use in song as forms of social critique and to boost the spirits of warriors. But what distinguishes Jamaican proverbial speech from that of the above-mentioned groups on the African continent? Furthermore, what aesthetic influences do the beliefs and practices of Rastafari add to Jamaican proverb use? How do other influences such as biblical, American, African American, and British enter into this sociolinguistic equation? To what extent does the medium of popular music affect the encoding and decoding of reggae proverbs? And finally, how are these influences realized in the proverbial language of reggae discourse? For answers to these questions, we must begin with an investigation of the cultural and ideological context from which reggae discourse arises. The Proverbs In Michael Taft's essay on proverbs in blues lyrics, he concludes that although proverbs are not uncommon in blues, they are relatively infrequent. He only found about twenty-five proverbs, thirty-six proverbial comparisons, and fifteen proverbial expressions in several thousand blues texts. I have not undertaken the same kind of statistical survey of reggae, nor have I listened extensively to all types of reggae music. My survey does suggest, however, that proverbs are frequently found in a certain kind of reggae and, more specifically, that the lyrics of particular artists are especially rich in proverbial expressions. These artists include Culture, Bob Marley, the Itals, the Wailing Souls, and to a lesser degree Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, and Justin Hinds and the Dominoes.     We might conclude from this, therefore, that such artists are proverb masters (Prahlad 1996) and that it is their mastery of proverbial speech more than the genre of reggae itself that accounts for the proliferation of proverbial items in their works. It must certainly be more than coincidence, however, that these artists share ideological orientations, reached the height of their artistry around the same time period of reggae's development, and all play "roots" reggae. Undoubtedly, there is some connection between the emergence of proverb masters and these other factors. The generally recognized periods of Jamaican popular music are ska, rock steady, reggae, dancehall, and ragga. Although some critics refer to all of these periods as "reggae," each period is, in fact, marked by distinct musical and lyrical elements. The category of "roots" was most prominent during the rock steady and reggae periods. The roots category refers to reggae that is inspired by Rastafari ideology (as well as musical and lyrical aesthetics). This includes a conscious effort to celebrate various African-influenced cultural elements, including but not limited to verbal expressions. Reasons for the prevalent use of proverbs in this type of reggae will become apparent as this study unfolds.     In addition to "traditional" proverbs--those that have already been documented in a previous collection--I am also concerned with so-called invented expressions in this study--hence, with the issue of proverbiality as well as with proverbs proper. Within the context of reggae discourse, phrases are used effectively as proverbs even though they may have no established traditionality prior to the lyrics of a particular song. Several factors facilitate this. Many of the proverbs used in reggae discourse are Jamaican and are thus unfamiliar to a large percentage of the foreign reggae audience. Therefore, foreign audiences are commonly confronted with expressions that sound proverbial but of which they have no previous knowledge. Why should such listeners respond any differently to invented expressions than to those that are, in fact, traditional? Rather, it is more likely that invented expressions can succeed rhetorically because they sound proverbial, and within the context of a song the rhetoric of sound is paramount. Arora (1994) has demonstrated in her study of Hispanic proverbs and speakers that listeners often assume proverbiality based on the sound of an expression. My study of blues lyrics also indicated that proverbs were often found with accompanying lines that sounded proverbial (1996, 81-90). It would prove negligent to ignore examples of invented proverbs in reggae discourse, especially if the aesthetic rhetoric of the lyrics is a main concern. Ideological Influences in Reggae The lyrics and rhetorical strategies of reggae reflect a wide range of influences. Proverbs, for instance, which sparkle like diamonds among other precious stones, are one of many traditional genres that find their way into this music. In order to understand the role proverbs play, however, the connection between them and other genres must be explored; at the same time, we have to survey the general and specific cultural contexts out of which these oral traditions emerge. Such an examination of Jamaican traditions is particularly complex, as it includes elements from the rich and diverse African heritages represented in different parts of the country; a variety of religious and secular folk groups, dialects, and performance styles; a dense fabric of mythology, legend, ritual, and belief; and a charged history of political and social movements that have had no small impact on the aesthetics of proverb use. In fact, I will only have time briefly to mention these components, which are extensive enough to require multiple volumes to give them the scrutiny they deserve. The dominant worldview influencing the construction of roots reggae is, of course, Rastafari. Hence, this chapter is concerned with the ideology of this mystical religion in the historical context of Jamaican society and, specifically, with those elements that have the most profound impact on reggae discourse. Narrative personas and the diverse rhetorical genres that comprise reggae will be explored in the next chapter.     Before the advent of Rastafari influence in reggae, the lyrics and music were less rhetorically complex. Early reggae was dominated by lyrical trends borrowed from American rhythm and blues and from soul music. With the development of ska and rock steady, we see the inclusion of more purely Jamaican aesthetics. It was not until reggae artists began their conversion to Rastafari, however, that elements of African Jamaican culture moved to the forefront as symbols of identity and pride, and as markers of aesthetic standards. One can compare this period in Jamaican music to the Black Arts Movement in African American poetry. Beginning with the Black Arts Movement, African American poets rejected English standards of poetry, turning instead to their own oral traditions to define the parameters of their aesthetics. While earlier poets, such as Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, and James Weldon Johnson, may have occasionally relied upon oral traditions, most poets began doing so after the Black Arts Movement. Hence, the African American poetic aesthetic was permanently changed. My discussion of reggae, then, begins with a comparable period of dramatic change in the way in which Jamaican reggae was conceptualized.     One of Rastafari's most significant contributions to reggae was the impact on the narrative personas used by singers in their lyrics, lives, and performances. The spread of Rastafari eventually heralded a new age of consciousness, an era in which many Jamaicans--not only reggae artists--would experience a fundamental transformation of identity. With this new identity came forms of self-presentation, a new voice, and an altered relationship to elements of Jamaican and African culture. The role that the music played in society and the nature of the audience also changed. Prior to 1945, for example, "the radio stations of Jamaica continuously played the music of white America--Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Doris Day and Neil Sedaka" (Campbell 1987, 126), and early singers aspired to an aesthetic for popular and "worthwhile" music that was based upon European and American aesthetics.     The introduction of Rastafari elements into Jamaican music coincided with the emergence of ska and the tradition of "sound systems." Sound systems developed in the mid 1950s as a reactionary response to the neocolonial control of Jamaican airways. In fact, many people had no access to radios because they could not afford to buy them. Sound systems brought people together in large yards, in Kingston and rural areas, where "the music of Jamaica and black America could be played without restraint" (Campbell 1987, 127), where they could dance, party, and have a good time. The name "sound system" referred to the powerful, large sound systems (amplifiers, turntables, and speakers) that the deejays used and that were the heart of these gatherings. Deejays such as Duke Reid and Clement Seymour Dodd competed with each other for the best sounds and largest crowds, beginning a tradition that remains an integral part of the Jamaican music scene today. Jones writes: "To date the sound [system] remains the principal context of musical activity for a large proportion of the black working class, and one of the main institutions through which reggae's audience is able to exert some control over the music, by demanding danceable and relevant music" (1988, 30). In many ways, sound systems are comparable to secret nocturnal meetings held by slaves in bush arbors (hidden meeting sites) or other out-of-the-way places. These meetings allowed slaves the opportunity to sing, dance, and worship in the manner they preferred, but which was forbidden by slaveowners. Sound systems were a continuation of a tradition of resistance that characterized every slave and neocolonial settlement of Africans in the Western world.     During the period of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Rastafari influence in Jamaican music emerged, alongside songs that addressed social problems. This period is marked by the Folks Brothers, "Oh Carolina," which featured the burro drumming of Count Ossie, "the renown Rastafarian elder and percussionist" (Barrow 1993, 32). Campbell writes: The drumming of O Carolina heralded a new era of music, for the songs sung by the Rastafari which extolled Ethiopia and Africa were developed within the confines of the sound systems which vied with each other for supporters. Socio-religious and political songs echoed and reverberated across the gullies from the sound systems, with By the Rivers of Babylon, Let the Power Fall on I, and the Macabs Version played along with the classic instrumental records called Man in the Street, Schooling the Duke, Far East , and other music of joy, consistent with the pride of achieving the status of political independence. (127) So while the majority of singers continued to base their lyrics and performance styles on American soul and rhythm and blues, the seeds for a new musical direction had begun to send shoots up from the soil. The guiding concept of a song was still as a form of entertainment; however, a dramatic shift in this as well as in the concept of audience, as indicated by the emergence of sound systems, was in progress. Much to the dismay and discomfort of the Jamaican elite, singers began composing in the dialect of the ghetto and addressing the masses at the lower end of the social ladder: the people of the ghetto, the Dungles, and the rural parishes and shantytowns.     The new identity that began to take root among Jamaican artists included elements from a plethora of sources. The combination of these influences represents a complex synthesis of traditional Jamaican, African, African American, African Caribbean, European, and biblical components, as well as many constituents that cannot be divorced from their associations with local and international popular culture, such as allusions to American film. While some of these elements may have been of relatively new historical origins, the principles whereby the synthesis or creolization of these diverse ingredients was organized have roots in the historical experience of Africans in the New World and, more specifically, in Jamaican culture and history. I have argued elsewhere that the three major personas in roots reggae are the priest, the rudeboy, and the epic hero (Prahlad 1995). While I would like to modify these here, I will first examine the roots of these narrative personas that led to significant aspects of their philosophical orientation, aesthetic guidelines, and performance styles. Rastafari, Resistance, and Revolt Certainly the most dominant factors bearing on the philosophical and rhetorical tenor of roots reggae is Rastafari. The religion itself evolved as a culmination of a diverse set of influences and events. Its origins are sometimes cited as the crowning of King Haile Selassie in Ethiopia in 1930, which precipitated the teaching of a new religion by a number of former Garveyites, including Leonard Howell, Archibald Dunkley, Robert Hinds, and Joseph Hibbert. However, seeds of Rastafari were planted in the soil of the slave trade and the subsequent colonization of Jamaica and other Caribbean islands. This single event in Western history set the stage for the dehumanizing and oppressive conditions under which not only Jamaicans but other survivors of the African Excerpted from REGGAE WISDOM by Sw. Anand Prahlad. Copyright © 2001 by University Press of Mississippi. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xvii
The Original Man: Culture and Ideology; A Contextual Framep. 1
Jah Message to Preach: Personas and Rhetorical Aestheticsp. 32
No Cup No Mash: Proverbs in Jamaican Societyp. 70
New Brooms Sweep Clean: Proverbs and the Rhetorical Strategies of Address in Reggae Discoursep. 112
Still Water Run Deep: Proverbs of the Italsp. 139
Fire, Corn and Pots: Proverbs of Bob (Robert Nesta) Marley, O.M.p. 170
Appendix 1 Partial Discographyp. 207
Appendix 2 List of Major Proverb Usersp. 214
Appendix 3 Interview with Keith Porterp. 217
Appendix 4 List of Proverbs by the Itals and Bob Marley, Album and Songp. 226
Appendix 5 Proverb Indexp. 234
Notesp. 275
Referencesp. 279
Indexp. 291
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xvii
The Original Man: Culture and Ideology; A Contextual Framep. 1
Jah Message to Preach: Personas and Rhetorical Aestheticsp. 32
No Cup No Mash: Proverbs in Jamaican Societyp. 70
New Brooms Sweep Clean: Proverbs and the Rhetorical Strategies of Address in Reggae Discoursep. 112
Still Water Run Deep: Proverbs of the Italsp. 139
Fire, Corn and Pots: Proverbs of Bob (Robert Nesta) Marley, O.M.p. 170
Appendix 1 Partial Discographyp. 207
Appendix 2 List of Major Proverb Usersp. 214
Appendix 3 Interview with Keith Porterp. 217
Appendix 4 List of Proverbs by the Itals and Bob Marley, Album and Songp. 226
Appendix 5 Proverb Indexp. 234
Notesp. 275
Referencesp. 279
Indexp. 291

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