Tag Archives: jus bus

Mailbox – It’s Drastic

This email concerned an Independence (Antigua and Barbuda’s 35th) release by Drastic.

drastic-image

video stills.

Key aspects: In recent times, ‘Drastic’, the multifaceted Artist/ Singer/ Songwriter has ventured out across the world to work with Jah Cure – International Jamaican Reggae Artist; successfully securing a Grammy nomination for his writing prowess! Meanwhile he’s collaborated with top Nigerian Artist Niniola, on the new single “Shaba – The Remix”; and, as co-writer of the song “Oxygen” for the legendary Shurwayne Winchester of Trinidad & Tobago. One Artiste; with outstanding work in three (3) different Genre’s … and still, this is just a taste of what’s to come.

Today, the Artist depicts that truly,  “home is where the heart is”, with the release of  – Where I’m From – a song from the heart produced by “Justin Nation” aka Jus Bus, and  featuring  Antiguan born Travis Philip also known as Tha Shya (Drastic’s cousin, & son of former Antiguan Calypsonian “Chalice”).

Drastic says, “Where I’m From is my gift in song to the people of Antigua and Barbuda and to all who can positively relate to the message. Where I’m From speaks about the blessings of God on our islands and calls for more love and togetherness among our people.” It encourages people everywhere to ‘strive to be great’ with the affirmation ‘each endeavouring and all achieving’ – Antigua’s Famous national motto, included as one of its most prolific lines.  It is important to note that while busy representing Antigua independently overseas, he continues to emphasize love and patriotism for his homeland.

Here’s the song:

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…when it hits you… #feelingthemusic

I’ve covered Jus Bus on this site before; don’t call this overkill but I’ve been listening and listening and listening to J. Nation, his debut CD (as an artiste; he already has extensive creds as a producer) since Saturday and (granted I was already primed given I’ve been stuck in an emotional sandpit of late; but with heartfelt lyrics, an interesting mix of musical choices, creative production, inspired collaborations, and a searching soul at its centre it had all the right ingredients anyway and…) I’ve been feeling the feels.

“Sometimes, I…Sometimes, I…Sometimes, I…feel alone…” (from Sometimes, I)

“Look at what we’ve done/the savages we’ve become/we laugh at each other’s pain/point fingers and blame” (from Savages)

“All this hard work/all this sacrifice/you don’t give a damn what lays beneath” (from Hard Work)

“…and the stress got me drained/I’m trying to live a life without going insane…and the strain seems everlasting…and this is why we’re blasting away” (from Blasting Away)

“…even though I’ve shed a few tears/I keep fighting…” (from Kings)

“Let it out/Let it out/Let it out…whatever’s bothering you…” (from SOS)

“shout and yell/tell them that you’ll take your freedom…” (from New Rebellion)

“I’m talking to you but you ain’t hearing me…” (from I don’t wanna talk to you )

“gonna keep on reaching higher/cause you know I’m breathing fire” (from Inferno)

-N.B. the next track is Say It Ain’t So…but every time I tried to pull lyrics, I couldn’t as I was too caught up in the experience of the song itself…unusual for someone who tends to hone in on lyrics…but the atmosphere of this particular song was kind of all consuming…that’s a good thing; a song should be an experience…but alas the upshot is that I have no reference/sample lyrics to share-

“I’m no clown/but this circus got me going round” (from Vertigo)

“There’s a girl who sits there on her own/takes everything for her to keep holding on/through the valley of her broken dreams/so it seems…give a little love/don’t be afraid/and just leave all your worries in yesterday/give a little love/don’t be ashamed/of the walls that surround you/just break away…” (from Give a little love)
“I must confessed/I’m feeling depressed…” (from Mental Battle)
“Are we connected/or disconnected/are we alive/or living a lie…” (from The Walking Dead)
“Lately, they’ve been trying to break me…I’m gonna keep on running/fighting for my spirit to fly” (from Without Fear)

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Large Up – Jus Bus

“Whether it be for the beaches, food, great weather, or the people, the Caribbean has an energy that immediately makes visitors feel good, and at home. Those beautiful aspects of each island, however, come at a price. As Justin Nation (aka J. Nation) sings on his new single “Hard Work”: I bet you think its paradise, coconut trees, and rum on ice, but everything round here not so nice, its an up-and-down kinda life.

Hailing from Antigua, Nation knows more than most about the struggles of Caribbean life…” Read More.

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READING ROOM IX

Like the title says, this is the ninth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Eight came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.

INTERVIEWS

Haitian American writer M. J. Fievre, who interviewed me for her website recently, has this really cool interview of her own.

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My work is never finished. Even as I read something that’s published, I still want to change it.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Read full interview here.

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“I don’t chase what I hear on the radio. I try not to compete with anybody. And even though I’m a musician, I don’t necessarily follow a certain set of rules. Sometimes my mistakes turn into interesting music because I do things that aren’t supposed to be done. Really it’s more about a state of mind. I grew up with a certain standard of music, watching my father and his peers. For them, music had a deeper purpose than one’s own selfish gain. It was never just a business.” – Ziggy Marley, full interview here.

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“I am inspired by kindness. When I see ordinary people practicing kindness in ordinary ways—smiling at strangers, getting up to give a seat to someone else on the bus, helping someone with their luggage, stopping to speak to a homeless person—I am inspired because I am reminded of humanity.” – Dena Simmons. Read more.

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – funny, as many interviews as I’ve seen and read with her, I never realized I’d been pronouncing her last name wrong. So, thanks for that Tavis Smiley. And thanks to both the Nigerian writer (Adichie) and American interviewer (Smiley) for an interesting conversation on the things people would rather not talk about. Here’s to uncomfortable conversations.

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Commonwealth podcasts featuring writers from across the Commonwealth including, from the Caribbean Lorna Goodison (Jamaica) and my girl Ivory Kelly (Belize).

That's Ivory, to the right, with me in Glasgow, 2014.

That’s Ivory, to the right, with me in Glasgow, 2014.

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I hope you didn’t miss this one, but in case you did, Jamaican writer (poet, fiction writer, essayist) and professor Kei Miller in 2014 won the Forward Prize. It’s kind of a big deal, made bigger still by the fact that he’s the first non-white poet to take the British-based prize in more than 20 years. For that, you get two links: his interview/profile in the (UK) Guardian and the Forward Prize announcement.

That's Kei to the right - hanging in Glasgow (with me and others), 2014.

That’s Kei to the right – hanging in Glasgow (with me and others), 2014.

Bonus, peep Kei in this British Poetry Book Society line-up of 20 poets to watch. And listen to the poet talk about his work and journey as a writer, here.

Another bonus: Kei’s Carcanet interview.

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Renaee Perrier (now Smith) was one of my block sisters during my UWI days. Check out this interview about her writing life.

FICTION

“Gramma had told me stories about jumbies—people who had died but could walk about in the night. They lived in dark shadows and all the bad scary places. But my jumbie daddy was different.” Read all of Neala Bhagwansingh’s Jumbie Daddy.

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Audio clip of A-dZiko Gegele and Roland Watson-Grant reading at Bocas 2014 – good stuff.

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Love this story (The Headstrong Historian by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie), first because it’s a good story well told…and a good example of a story having an epic span…but also for its view of pre-colonized Africa and the slow process of that colonization and the deliberateness of that/the trade off and of the decolonization of the mind…it resonates… it really does in unexpected ways… “Nwamgba was alarmed by how indiscriminately the missionaries flogged students: for being late, for being lazy, for being slow, for being idle, and, once, as Anikwenwa told her, Father Lutz put metal cuffs around a girl’s hands to teach her a lesson about lying, all the time saying in Igbo—for Father Lutz spoke a broken brand of Igbo—that native parents pampered their children too much, that teaching the Gospel also meant teaching proper discipline.” Makes you wonder, what’s really our culture (as once colonized descendants of Africa), a culture we defend so arduously, and what was thrust upon us until we didn’t know how to separate ourselves from it. Colonization is a hell of a thing. When people say get over it, it’s in the past, they don’t know. Anyway, you can also find this story in The Thing Around Her Neck, an Adichie book I highly recommend.

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“This story moves. With each stop and each passenger, the reader becomes more invested the bus driver—and more worried about the pig. The final line is satisfying in way that made me want to cheer.” – Kenyon Review on why it selected Karen Lin-Greenberg’s Care  

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Wanna hear something weird? While reading this story, which I really liked by the way, I pictured everybody in it as black, and specifically African American – the man, the sick woman, the angel, all black. There was no detail in the story (or none that I found on first read) to contradict me and yet there was detail enough to make these people – and angel – fully realized beings. It didn’t occur to me until I got to the end, and saw the picture of the author, that they may or may not be. Hm. That’s the funny thing about reading sometimes, how we project our reality or a context that makes sense to us (since my reality while black is not African American) unto the characters. It defaulted to what was famliar. But it just goes to show, though, that details of a character’s race, hair colour, eyes (details that, like any other, should really be used only in so far as they serve the story) may or may not be necessary to seeing the characters and the world of the characters. Maybe we see them as we’re meant to see them. Like I said, black or white, I found these characters to be really interesting (for the things unsaid between her and her lover, for the angel’s other worldliness and bewilderment with our world, and oddly enticing sensuality, for what it says about the nature of living and dying). Read Amy Bonnaffons’ Black Stones here.

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This excerpt of Roland Watson-Grant’s Sketcher tickled me in all sorts of ways. First, New Orleans. Been enamoured with New Orleans in literature since my Anne Rice college years. Second, born in the 70s myself, I laughed out loud at the narrator (also a child at the 70s) rolling his eyes about the 60s:  “It must have been the time o’ their lives, the Sixties, what with all that music and bell-bottom tight pants and lots of free love and everything. But I bet they still had headaches and mosquitoes and taxes, so I don’t know what all the fuss was about.” Third, intriguing characters, setting, scenario…and the CB craze of the early 80s…I remember that…remember my brother was into that too. Fourth, the writing…this isn’t just a nostalgia trip for me…the writing is alive and has the music and magic and sweltering energy of the landscape it describes. Moving this book up my to-read list. You will want to, too, after reading this.

NON FICTION

Poetry notes from my former mentor and teacher, Mervyn Morris.

“Poems work not just by what they say but by how they say it.” – See more here.

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The Pain of Reading is all kinds of heartbreaking. Read it here.

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“Read publishing contracts carefully before signing them… When selling rights to any work, remember that the fewer rights you sell, the better.” Read more.

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This is actually very similar with what I’m trying to do with the Jhohadli Writing Project – it gives me hope. Read, how I built my own literary scene and saved myself by Julia Fierro.

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Hell is my own Book Tour by Adam Mansbach made me laugh out loud and also strangely envious, as in at least you got to go on a book tour… ah the writing life, it’s not all glitz and glamour…in fact, often there’s no glitz and glamour at all… just four people at a book reading whom you nonetheless give your all.

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“The other way to escape the curse of knowledge is to show a draft to yourself, ideally after enough time has passed that the text is no longer familiar. If you are like me you will find yourself thinking, “What did I mean by that?” or “How does this follow?” or, all too often, “Who wrote this crap?” The form in which thoughts occur to a writer is rarely the same as the form in which they can be absorbed by a reader. Advice on writing is not so much advice on how to write as on how to revise.” – read more of Steven Pinker’s article on The Curse of Bad Writing.

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Kwame Dawes talks about how he writes. One of my favourite bits…

“My brain is a kind of cesspool that collects material unfiltered – or it may be filtered. I’m not conscious that I’m putting things into it. I may remark that something as interesting, but in truth what I’m doing is pulling something into that pool. When I make the decision to write a poem, I don’t know what is going to come from that pool. The act of writing brings together various and complex things. What I may access from that pool might happen immediately, or it may take years.”

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I’ve been given and received feedback, edited the works of others, been edited…and as I ruminate on both sides of that journey, I think it bears remembering that if you’re either hired to edit or just asked to give feedback on a piece of writing, “You’re being asked to consult—not commit a hostile takeover”, “Think of your reading mission as understanding the piece,” and “Don’t sacrifice feeling for critical thinking. Don’t forget to feel the piece.” Editing, like writing, is not paint by numbers. As writer, I try to listen to my characters and try to tell their tale authentically and insightfully. As editor, I try to come to each piece open to what the piece is trying to say and how the author is trying to say it, and hopefully guide them toward saying it clearly yet in their unique and distinct way. As I said in this article, it’s a delicate dance. Ten Essentials of Reading for Writers is an interesting read for those who’ve ever been asked to give feedback on a writer’s work in terms of striking the necessary balance.

REVIEWS

Black-ish – initial thoughts:My first requirement of a comedy is that it make me laugh. I can forgive a lot of things if you make me laugh. Black-ish, which debuted this Wednesday on ABC, made me laugh, sometimes. I run hot and cold with series star Anthony Anderson but found myself liking him in this role. His high pitched humour works here; and it better, as his perspective – his real moments and hyper real fantasies – are what drive the plot. It’s a family drama but, at least in the first episode, it’s the story of Anderson’s character struggling with the idea that the price of success is losing your blackness/your identity (as if there’s a simple definition of what blackness is) while at the same time, on the job at least, rebelling against being defined solely by his blackness (see the irony?). The show could do with more nuance, but I’d watch it again. Because it made me laugh; even if the humour wasn’t always fresh nor cuttingly funny. This is network television after all; the edge was a bit blunted and the message was laid on a bit thick. The performances are solid; the somewhat underused Laurence Fishburne’s dry wit balancing out Anderson’s hysterics, and Tracee Ellis Ross is a more natural fit as his wife than his last TV wife – I love you Vanessa (of the Cosby show) but I wasn’t buying the chemistry. The kids don’t really stand out yet, only in the general sense that they “don’t see colour”, which makes for some easy laughs. The challenge the show faces going forward, I suppose is being fresh and daring with both its humour and commentary, foregoing tired tropes and the easy laugh for laughter that makes you not only cut-up but consider and –re-consider your own prejudices. In that sense, it has the perfect lead-in in Modern Family, a show that’s all about challenging your assumptions while making you laugh out loud. And if it imprints the way Modern Family has, it’ll not only be a funny half hour comedy but ground breaking television. Time will tell.

POETRY

“And maybe in their eyes

it may seem I got punked out

‘cause I walked a narrow path

and then went and changed my route

But that openness exposed me

to a truth I couldn’t find

in the clenched fist of my ego

or the confines of my mind

or in the hipness of my swagger

or in the swagger of my step

or the scowl of my grimace

or the meanness of my rep

‘Cause we represent a truth, son

that changes by the hour

and when you opened to it

vulnerability is power.” |

Saul Williams

http://loquence.tumblr.com/

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“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft agley” – Robert Burns’ To a Mouse is copied here in Scottish and explained.

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When I read Scottish writer Liz Lochhead’s Kidspoem/Bairnsong, I was immediately drawn in. On the surface, an innocent scene – a mother prepping her daughter for school; an structurally almost a round, like those songs and poems we did as children. But it’s commentary on how we lose our mother tongue is deep and for the Caribbean person deeply relatable.

“…the first day I went to school

so my mother wrapped me up in my

best navy-blue top coat with the red tartan hood

twirled a scarf around my neck

pulled on my bobble-hat and mittens

it was so bitterly cold

said now you won’t freeze to death

gave me a little kiss and a pretend slap on the bottom

and sent me off across the playground

to the place I’d learn to forget to say

it wis January

and a gey derich day

so my Mum happed me up in ma

good navy-blue napp coat wi the rid tartan hood

birled a scarf aroon ma neck

pu’ed oan ma pixie an my pawkies

it wis that bitter.”

Here’s Liz Lochhead reading the poem and talking about the genesis of the poem and the importance of writing our reality in our way, which, you know, is a foundation of the Wadadli Pen Challenge.

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This Tom Leonard poem immediately appealed to me for its defiant claiming of its mother tongue (Scots) – something we can relate to as Caribbean people, yes? Because as he writes “all livin language is sacred”.

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“I sit and wring my hands,
at last old enough and sad enough,
and pathetic enough in my impotence
to do this” – Talking to Hamas by Alice Walker

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Beauty by Bermudian poet Dane Swan:

Bag lady, your eyes tell stories
of glory, despair, success, failure
deceit, withdrawn ineptness.

BLOG

The Art of Submission…or how to handle rejection without becoming bitter.

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So, you know how in Julie and Julia, a young writer undertakes the challenge of cooking and blogging Julia Child’s recipes for a year, and gets a book deal out of the experiment? Well, British writer Ann Morgan had a similar experience reading the world. Here’s an update re her book deal…and a big of inspiration for others laboring in the blogosphere.

VISUAL

Music video featuring Promise No Promises and directed by Jus Bus …very artistic visuals…very resonant lyrics…and a good bounce

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cricket

This image of women playing cricket in St. Lucia, circa 1905 is one of my favourites from Rastas, Royals, and Revolution: 100 Years of Photography in the Caribbean. I was actually flipping through to see if there were any Antigua and/or Barbuda images and this one caught my eye. Good stuff. See more images in the series here.

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Disbanded by John Pettie.

Disbanded by John Pettie.

The Starz series Outlander and my visit to Glasgow early in 2014 probably have something to do with this one catching my eye but the truth is I’ve always had an interest in Irish and Scottish culture and history. I came across this image while reading The Other Tongues: an Introduction to Writing in Irish, Scots Gaelic and Scots in Ulster and Scotland and looked it up online. According to this site, this is an image by John Pettie of a Scottish Highlander after his defeat at the Jacobite rebellion of 1746.

Here’s a bonus Scottish image from that same book(c) The Fleming Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationIt’s ‘Lochaber No More’, an 1863 image painted by John Watson Nicol. The title ‘Lochaber No More’ forms part of a popular 17th century Scottish folk song

“These tears that I shed, they are all for my dear,
An no’ for the dangers of attending or weir;
Tho’ borne on rough seas to a far distant shore.
Maybe to return to Lochaber no more” (full lyrics here)

The song is a lament. Lochaber, based on my research, was where Bonnie Prince Charlie recruited the first clans to his cause, sparking the Jacobite rebellion. The mournful nature of the song reflects the rebellion’s defeat at Culloden Moor in 1746.

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“… it was while dancing and touring the nation and European continent that he chanced to visit The Louvre Museum in Paris that he “met his Muse”. As he walked the halls there, he was consumed by what he saw. Looking at the work of the Masters in The Louvre, he was reminded of what he had unconsciously reached for in his sprawling graffiti pieces; he recognized realms of color, style, passionate expression and possibilities that he had never before imagined.” – from About Frank Morrison at Morrison Art

I see a Queen in Me by Frank Morrison

I see a Queen in Me by Frank Morrison

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Cover image Summer One by Glenroy Aaron inspired by Summer 1, a poem by Joanne C Hillhouse.

Cover image Summer One by Glenroy Aaron inspired by Summer 1, a poem by Joanne C Hillhouse.

Glenroy Aaron’s Summer One is the cover image of the Tongues of the Ocean Antigua and Barbuda issue. Here’s his bio from the site: Glenroy Aaron has always had a passion for anything artistic. Drawings and doodling captivated him in his childhood years and this love of the arts was nurtured in primary and secondary school and later honed under teachers in the Cambridge art programme at the Antigua State College. Upon leaving school he continued with his passion, branching into oils, which is currently his primary medium. He strives to capture the beauty in nature and human emotion.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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READING ROOM Vlll

Like the title says, this is the eighth reading room. Use the search feature to your right and the term ‘reading room’ to find the others. Seven came before, pack-full-0 good reading: poetry, fiction, non fiction, and some visuals too. Good reading makes for good writing. So use the reading rooms like your personal library and enjoy. And remember, keep coming back; they’re never finished. As I discover things, things get added. And don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts re not only what you read here but also possible additions to the reading room.

This one is uncategorizable (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that’s not a word; not the point). It’s the PEN World Voices
online anthology 2014 and I’m sharing the whole thing because I still can’t believe that I got a chance to be a part of this wonderful and prestigious activity. For me a highlight will just be sitting in the audience and listening to the greats read and discuss; but getting the chance to do my own salon style reading was pretty damn cool too. I want you to get the chance to experience some of what I did by sharing some of the other writers who participated via these anthology excerpts. It covers poetry, fiction and non-fiction and includes a piece of my Amelia and all of my Ah Write! as well as, from other Caribbean writers, who I’m happy to say I got along really well with, Barbara Jenkins and Sharon Leach.

INTERVIEWS

Elizabeth Nunez being interviewed on NPR about my book Oh Gad!

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Elizabeth Nunez being interviewed about her book, the memoir Not for Everyday Use.

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What is the last book you read?
“The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. – Jus Bus. Read more of this Texas born, Antiguan-Barbudan raised producer-artiste’s interview with Luxury Locations. And just a reminder about this interview with him right here on Wadadli Pen.

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Opal Palmer interviews Jacqueline Bishop in Moko.

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Jack Neely interviews Nikki Giovanni for New Millennium Writings.

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“This was my main problem when I was just starting out: I was trying to say something. When I began to write, I was deeply self-conscious. I was writing stories hoping they would say something thematic, or address something that I was wrestling with philosophically. I’ve learned, for me at least, it’s a dead road. It’s writing from the outside in instead of the inside out.
But during my very early writing, certainly before I’d published, I began to learn characters will come alive if you back the f*ck off. It was exciting, and even a little terrifying. If you allow them to do what they’re going to do, think and feel what they’re going to think and feel, things start to happen on their own. It’s a beautiful and exciting alchemy. And all these years later, that’s the thrill I write to get: to feel things start to happen on their own.
So I’ve learned over the years to free-fall into what’s happening. What happens then is, you start writing something you don’t even really want to write about. Things start to happen under your pencil that you don’t want to happen, or don’t understand. But that’s when the work starts to have a beating heart.” – read more of this Andre Dubus lll interview.

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Loved so much about this interview, but, I’m biased, as I love all things Edwidge Dandicat…well, all things Edwidge Dandicat’s writing…don’t know her personally at all. Among the things I liked in this Guernica interview, the phrasing of the questions (How did you find her? – about Dandicat’s main character); the insight that Dandicat reads and re-reads to re-immerse herself in the world of the story and the sense she has of eavesdropping on her characters because I do that too; the judgments about certain writing choices e.g. English or Creole – I’m not an immigrant (she contextualizes it as a problem of immigrants writing in English) but I can relate to this: “people think it’s primarily a commercial choice. But for many of us, it’s a choice that rises out of the circumstances of our lives. These are the tools I have at my disposal, based on my experiences” – yep; her take on book reviews and categorizations and the burdens put upon fiction and her point that “fiction is not journalism or sociology or anthropology. Every story is singular. The way we get depth is by putting a bunch of singular stories together to tell larger more complex and sometimes even contradictory stories”… and more… I also find her description of her book as a hybrid between a story collection and a novel interesting and her references to books like it will be added to my reading list because one of my current writing projects seems to be veering into this hybrid territory. Anyway, reading interviews with great writers is always a master class for me, and Edwidge is one of the best in my opinion. Check out the full interview here.

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Michael Anthony, a Caribbean favourite, talks about his favourite meal, his favourite calypso, and more in this interview.

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New Orleans writer and journalist Missy Wilkinson about how being a journalist fuels her fiction and being a shape-shifter. Found this very relatable. Read the whole thing at Grab the Lapels.

VISUAL

Sandra Sealey talks about her journey as a writer.

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This Pinterest link is all visuals of Caribbean writers of fiction for children, teens, young adults. The clip, lifted from the site, features Tamarind publisher sharing in a very personal way why such diverse books are absolutely essential.

FICTION

“She breathes deep like she learned from the weekly yoga classes she paid for but eventually dropped. Deep breathing makes her dizzy. Too slow. Too many text messages buzz in the time it takes to exhale.” – from Empty by M. M. De Voe. More here.

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“And you!” Adele said “I raised my quivering arms on high; I laughed and laughed into the sky…. Edna St. Vincent Millet. You were so romantic!” – from Time Capsule by Carol J. Arnold. Read more.

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“We pushed north, praying for the aurora borealis, a whale breaching, something. An eagle dropped fish entrails on the deck. We studied the water’s flotsam for glass floats and fished out styrofoam cups.” – from The Famous Writer by Norma Shainin. Read more.

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“Najua had been in the room one night and Kate had asked Seth if people went to heaven when they died. Seth hadn’t hesitated to tell her yes, and to go on to say what he remembered from his childhood Sunday school lessons: heaven was a place of pure eternal happiness and joy, where no one suffered and no one got sick or hurt. He’d felt a twinge of guilt as he told his girl what he did not himself believe, but Najua smiled and nodded her reassurance that he was doing the right thing, her dark eyes moist and full of admiration. At the time, he’d taken it for more than that; he’d thought she might be falling for him too.” – Hush Little Baby by Vic Sizemore. Read the full.

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‘Cerberus closes both eyes, dreaming of the old man’s future, death waiting in the threshold to cradle him as it will never cradle Cerberus. He twitches in his sleep, wakes to the sound of Alma’s footsteps running through the front door, across the hardwood floor, out of breath, “Hi, Cerberus,” passing him like a warm, Aegean breeze.’ – from Cereus Sleeps by B. K. Loren. Read the full.

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“He is looking at her, has no wings to flick and she has none to fly off with and she knows from one moment to the next that nothing can get her out of the situation without leaving some sort of residue.” The tension is palpable and, unfortunately, if you’re a woman, all too relatable in Doro Boehme’s Thief Knot, Fastening at Canopic Jar.

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Coo Yah by Tammi Browne-Bannister, an Antiguan writer who now resident in Barbados, captures the shifting, dark poetry of a hurricane lashed landscape.

POETRY

Esther Phillips reppng for Barbados on the BBC’s Poetry Postcards.

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Alone by Maya Angelou. May she rest in peace.

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“Nothing understands the ecstatic wine
of this music like your body” – from Shostakovich: Five Pieces by Pamela Uschuk. Read also her poem Learning the Theremin.

NON FICTION

An interesting and important conversation and one of relevance to writers like us, far far far off the map of mainstream publishing. NPR’s To Achieve Diversity in Publishing, a Difficult Silence beats Silence.

***

‘The hit or miss nature of words is well suited to navigating in the dark, and this story proves that words have great power even if the speaker knows they only have a 50% chance of being true. And even when the speaker knows they are 100% untrue, pragmatic words get a person past the gatekeeper and into the circus. Or, words can be thrown out into unknown territory like hooks on a line. Our friend Judith, who spoke Hebrew and Dutch before learning English advised my husband, “If you want to find your way in a foreign language, you must guess a thousand times a day. Be bold—guess!” Words infused with longing and thrown like dice—left, right, or straight ahead—can get you home.’ – from The Resiliency Gene by Ellen Graf. Read the full.

***

Martin Scorcese on the difference between plot and story. You know, I just finished watching his film Shutter Island before posting this and, though he references other filmmakers, it’s as illustrative as any of them of the point he makes in this short clip. Watch and learn.

BLOG

From Shakirah Bourne’s Get Write! – On Dialect: How Caribbean People Supposed Tuh Talk In A Story, Eh?

***

So when did you begin falling in love with books? Read Kamy Wicoff’s blog here – and feel free to share your responses in the comments section below.

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One writer’s journey to publication. She Writes.

***

Antiguan and Barbudan Leonard Tim Hector is one of the greats of Caribbean thought (i.e. among those who researched, observed, analyzed, and offered insight to our lives, in his case, various areas of our lives – politics to sports to the arts). JAmerican writer Geoffrey Philp acknowledges as much in his preamble to a re-posting of a Hector piece on Caribbean literature and why it matters. Read here.

***

Writers Read by Jeff Goins.

*NEW* REVIEWS
A section for books I haven’t necessarily read as yet but, thanks to these reviews, now kind of want to.

Annie Paul reviews Jamaican writer, and fast Wadadli Pen patron, Diana McCaulay’s Huracan.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery

Antiguan and Barbudan song writers

The cover of the Calypso Association 50th anniversary magazine on which I had the privilege of working as editor.

As with the playwrights and screenwriters, the listing of Calypso song writers may will take a good long while, building sloooowly over time as I gather information and as I find time to upload the information I already have. Part of the challenge is that while we know the names of the artistes, the writers often exist somewhere in the wings, out of the spotlight (sometimes deliberately so). Often, even today, there are no liner notes (a pet peeve of mine since well-written liner notes enhance the listening experience for me). So, more than any of my lists, this one promises to be a challenge. In a number of cases, I’m not 100% sure about the songwriting credits (so if anyone knows, for sure – i.e. with proof, please email wadadlipen@yahoo.com). I think Antigua and Barbuda has produced some classic calypsos (and noteworthy songs in other genres) and they dripped from somebody’s pen; and those guys and gals deserve a bit of the spotlight, wouldn’t you say?

Davidson ‘Bankers’ Benjamin – Bankers’ popular tracks include ‘Me D Ras’ and ‘Fire go bun Dem’ which won him the Antigua Calypso Monarch crown in 1996. He’s also popular for the songs he did with Dread and the Baldhead (‘Motorbike’, ‘Do You wanna rock some more’ etc.) in the 1990s and for songs like ‘Pulling Me’ on the Sweetest Mango [film] soundtrack.

Boasta (Tario Philip)Old Time Something (2015).

Muerah ‘Mighty Artist’ Bodie His calypsos are known for their double entendre (read: alternate lewd interpretation), earning the most humorous prize in competition a time or two. His songs include ‘Vitamins and Iron’, ‘Tarpan Tone Up’, ‘Woman Working Under Man’, ‘Me Ole Wife’, ‘Pot Hole’, ‘Business Dead’, ‘Clap You Tongue’, and others. He’s been singing since 1972.

Marcus Christopher– over 300 calypsos written: incuding several which won the Calypso Monarch competition like Short Shirt’s ‘Carnival on the Moon’ (1969), ‘Beatles MBE’ (1965), ‘No Place Like Home’ (1964) and ‘Heritage’ (1964), ‘Technical School’ (1971), ‘Black Like Me’ (1971); Zemakai’s ‘Tribute to Radio Antigua’ and ‘Fidel Castro’ (1961); King Canary’s ‘Gem of the Caribbean’ and ‘Slapping Hands’ (1960) and ‘Island People Names’ and ‘Immigration Bill’ (1962). Also many that while not winners are memorable, such as Short Shirt’s ‘Parasites’ (1963) and ‘Anguilla Crisis’ (1969) and Sleepy’s ‘Under the Carpet’. Christopher died in 2015.

Toriano ‘Onyan’ Edwards – One fourth of the original groundbreaking Antiguan jam/soca band Burning Flames and later a solo act and four time calypso monarch (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000); Onyan has attracted controversy for lyrics deemed offensive by some (I for instance wrote an article critical of 2012’s ‘Kick een she back doh‘- loved by fans who assured it the road march win, and decried by women’s groups) and not for the first time; anyone remember such classics as ‘Man fu Whorehouse’ and ‘Baby Food’ off the Baby Food album? But with songs like ‘Crazy Man’, ‘Old Fire Stick’, ‘Life in the Ghetto’, ‘Nice and Slow’ and even the named controversial songs he remains  a crowd favourite and road march winner.

Mclean ‘Short Shirt’ Emmanuel – The Calypso Hall of Famer is celebrated as The Monarch (subject of the documentary film The Making of the Monarch  and of the book Nobody Go Run Me – long-listed for the 2015 Bocas prize) as the 15 time Calypso Monarch (’64, ’65, ’66, ’69, ’70, ’72, ’74, ’75, ’76, ’79, ’80, ’86, ’87, ’88, ’92) of Antigua and Barbuda; in addition to being a multiple title holder in both the Road March and Caribbean Calypso King categories. Check out this article on his 1976 album, Feeling the Ghetto Vibes. Also scroll down for the Shelly Tobitt entry.

Fd – The official pseudonym of a songwriter who provided evidence of his contribution to Antiguan calypso (as I hope other songwriters will do so that I can continue to build this data base). Those contributions include social commentaries  –  ‘True Antiguan’ (2011), ‘Forward Together’, ‘Share The Honey’ (1992), ‘Heaven Help Mankind’ (1993), ‘How Could I Sit Back’ , ‘Tell The Truth’; and party tunes – ‘Push Back You Bam Bam/Jennifer’ (1987), ‘Taste The Honey/Taste It’ (2011), ‘After Midnight’ (1983), ‘Get It Up’, ‘Champion’ (1987) & ‘Angela’ (1987) – all performed by King Short Shirt. Other Fd songs: ‘The Party’, ‘Give me a Beer’, ‘Rolling Back’, ‘That’s How I Like It’, ‘Wire Waist’, ‘Stay out of Politics’, ’25 Years’, ‘Good Advice’, ‘Love Me Up’, ‘Shake de Booty’, ‘Push Wood’, ‘Selfish Man’ (1983), and ‘Rub Your Body (1983)’.

Stanley Humphreys – a frequent Short Shirt collaborator beginning with 1980s Summer Festival album, continuing wtih 1981’s Dance with Me Album including songs like ‘Nationalism’ and ‘We have got to Change’, and ongoing; also in 1981 ‘Pledge’ (as confirmed by the artiste himself).

Joseph ‘Calypso Joe’ Hunte – His classic ‘Bum Bum” became, in 1970, the first homegrown winner of the Antigua and Barbuda calypso road march title. Other well known tracks composed and (I believe) written by Joe include: 1971’s ‘Educate the Youths’ and ‘Recorded in History’ with which he won the Calypso Monarch crown;   ‘War’, ‘A Nation to Build, A Country to Mould’, and 1972’s ‘Life of a Negro Boy’.

Tameka Jarvis-George is a novelist and poet who continues to cross boundaries by mixing genres such as when she converted her poem Dinner into a short film of the same name. Her lyrics for Naki’s ‘Talking in Tongues’ on the Tin Pan Riddim is another example.


Oglivier ‘Destroyer’ Jacobs  has written for both himself and his son Leston ‘Young Destroyer’ Jacobs. Destroyer Sr. has never won the crown, though he came close in 1971 and 1989 winning the first runner-up spot. His written songs include 1967’s ‘Bring Back the Cat-o-Nine’, 1989’s ‘Discrimination’ and ‘Message from Gorkie’, ‘Back of de Bus’ (sung by his son and winner of best social commentary in 2006),

Accepting a National Vibes Star Project Award

‘Woodpecker Sarah’, ‘Jail Cart’, ‘Country Running Good’, ‘All Fool’s Day’, ‘Beg Georgie Pardon’, ‘Ah Wha Me Do You’, ‘Can’t Smile ‘Bout That’, ‘Ah Wonder Who Do Dis’, and many others.

King Zacari

Trevor ‘King Zacari’ King  (pictured above, performing)- The 1991 and 2001 monarch began writing for juniors in the early 1990s (e.g. ‘The Zulu Will Rise Again’ performed by Pepperseed) before entering the arena with his own tracks among which can be counted ‘Black Rights’, ‘Guilty of Being Black’, ‘Fine Ants’ (2001), ‘Guilty as Charged’ etc.

Logiq (Vincent Pryce) – A rapper whose discography includes tracks like ‘Sometimes‘, ‘Intimidation‘, and ‘All 4 Love‘.

Menace (Dennis Roberts) – ‘Old Time Something‘ and ‘ Sand to the Beach ‘ (2015).

Kobla ‘Promise No Promises’ Mentor – This Guyana born singer-songwriter broke through in Antigua with his behind the scenes contributions (as co-writer) on the 2003 Wanski hit (‘More Gyal‘) before claiming the so/calypso spotlight the following year with hits like ‘Can’t Stop My Carnival’ and ‘Pon de Move’; 2010’s ‘Do Good‘, 2011’s ‘Her Drums‘, and 2014’s ‘Draw we out‘are among his more recent offerings.

Lesroy Merchant – His songwriting is referenced in this obituary/tribute but details of the specific songs remain elusive. RIP. ETA: “Lesie wrote mainly for Franco, as a matter of fact, it was Lesie who introduced me to Franco and tried to get me to write songs for him. I was very busy at that time hence Lesie wrote the songs for Franco and many times he would have me look at them and asked for my input. May he rest in peace.” – William Shelly Tobitt in the comments below the post ‘Press On’

Justin ‘JusBus’ Nation – He’s written and produced songs and remixes for many artistes including himself with his 2015 J. Nation CD (‘Vertigo’, ‘Hard Work’, ‘Sometimes I’, ‘Blasting Away’ etc.)

Dorbrene O’Marde – song listing requested. Dorbrene is also the publisher of Calypso Talk magazine and the author of the Short Shirt biography Nobody Go Run Me.

The Mighty Bottle (Percival Watts) – ‘Fungi’, ‘Dive Dung Low’, ’10 Bag a Sugar’.

Rupert ‘Littleman’ Pelle – Winning Junior Calypso titles during an uninterrupted eight year run: ‘Parenting’, ‘Prostitution’, and ‘Wadadli Children’ sung and won by Lady Challenger (pictured left, above), 2000-2002; ‘Jump & Wave’, ‘Aunty Esther Say’ sung and won by Princess Thalia (2003-2004); and ‘Train Us Up’, ‘T. N. Kirnon Say’, and ‘Thank You Icons’ sung and won by Lyricksman (2005-2007). – Junior calypso record courtesy a facebook post by Trevaughn ‘Lyricks Man’ Weston on Littleman’s passing in December 2020. Also, ‘Riot 68’ for Latumba – first song when he was still performing as Deceiver (1968) and ‘From Statehood to Independence’ for Prince Jasbo (1978), along with songs for Daddy Iko, Calypso Farmer, Baby Eve and many other junior calypsonians.

Swallow

Rupert ‘Swallow’ Philo – ‘Raphael Trujillo‘ (1961), ‘Party in Space’, ‘Man to Man’, ‘Dawn of a New Day’, ‘We Marching’, ‘Subway Jam’, ‘One Hope One Love One Destiny’, ‘Don’t Stop this Party’, ‘Fire in De Backseat’, and more as chronicled here. With Short Shirt and Obstinate, he is considered one of the big three of Antiguan calypso and a legend in his own right. King Swallow died in 2020. RIP.

Quarkoo

Quarkoo, circa 1942. (Museum of Antigua and Barbuda archival photo)

“The dominant form of popular music in Antigua [up to arouund 1950] was ‘Benna’. The main proponent at the time was a strolling minstrel John ‘Quarkoo’ Thomas.” – P. 20, King Short Shirt: Nobody Go Run Me by Dorbrene O’Marde. Listed among his songs – ‘Maude Smell Donkey’ and 1924’s ‘Man Mongoose, dog know your ways’; 1943’s ‘Yes, it is more than tongue can tell…’

Sir Prince Ramsey is a family physician by profession, an HIV/AIDS activist by choosing, a calypso lyricist and producer by calling. He has produced more than 45 calypso albums and written over 100 songs since 1979 for artistes like King Obstinate, Rupert ‘Baba’ Blaize (‘In Antigua’), Onyan (‘Stand up for Antigua’ – 1998 Calypso Monarch winner), De Bear (‘My Allegiance’ – 2003 Calypso crown winner; and ‘Man is Nothing but Dust’ – 2007 Leeward Islands calypso competition winner), Zero (‘Protect Yourself’ – 2002 Calypso Monarch winner), De Empress (‘We don’t want it here’ and ‘Power of a Woman’ – 2000 Queen of Calypso crown winner), Blade (‘The Brink’ – 2008 Carnival Development Committee winner for best writer and best calypso), and others (about 50 artistes in all). Dr. Ramsey died in 2019. RIP.

Paul ‘King Obstinate’ Richards – The Undefeated is the creator of such classic gems as 1980’s ‘Believe‘, ‘Children Melee’, ‘Always come back to You’, ‘Antigua’s True Heroes’, ‘Got a little Something  for  You’, ‘Coming down to Talk to You’ (1982), ‘Hungry’, ‘Shiny Eyes’, ‘Who kill me Sister?’ (1985), ‘I already Talk to you’ (1992), ‘All of Self‘ (1993), ‘Ready to Go‘ (1996), as well as ‘Wet You Hand’, ‘Gold Rush’, and ‘Is Love a Love You’.

King Obstinate

Shelly Tobitt – Arguably Antigua and Barbuda’s best songwriter in the calypso arena, especially at his height in the 1970s during his winning partnership with the country’s most lauded calypso icon The Monarch King Short Shirt. It’s important to define Shelly’s partnership with his cousin and frequent collaborator Short Shirt. “Shelly wrote, virtually everything. He also provided ‘base’ melodies. Short Shirt either fine-tuned the melodies or created new ones based on his singing abilities or his own melodic instincts and he helped shape musical arrangements. He also provided a grounding of Shelly’s lyrics. Shelly was the poet, prone to flights of fancy and fantasy. Short Shirt pulled him back, opting for the ghetto slang or the dialect expression in phrase or sentence.” – p. 81 – 82, Nobody Go Run Me by Dorbrene O’Marde. Among the songs they did together are ‘Lamentation’ in 1973; ‘Lucinda’ in 1974; the songs on 1975’s Pan Rhapsody album – ‘Pan Rhapsody’, ‘Cry for Change’, ‘Awake’, ‘Antigua’, ‘Miss Yvette’, ‘Leh We Go’, ‘Vengeance’, ‘Lead On’, and ‘Come J’ouvert’; the tracks on the classic Ghetto Vibes album of 1976 – ‘Carnival ’76’, ‘Inspite of All’, ‘When’, ‘Tourist Leggo’, ‘Nobody Go Run Me’, ‘Power & Authority’, ‘Fantasy’, ‘Vivian Richards’, ‘Hands off Harmonites’, and ‘No Promises’; ‘Rock and Prance’ in 1977, ‘Jammin’ and ‘Gently on my Mind’ in 1978,  ‘Press on‘ the title track for an album that included songs like ‘Viva Grenada’  and ‘What You Going to do’ in 1979, and ‘HIV/AIDS’ and ‘Fyah’ in 1988. Tobitt’s discography also includes:  Latumba’s ‘Culture Must be Free’ and ‘Liberate Your Mind’ in 1979, Chalice’s ‘Show Me Your Motion‘ (1981), King Progress’ ‘You getting it‘ (1984), Figgy’s ‘Look what they’ve done to my song‘ (1998), ‘Benna’ (2011). ETA: “I am the writer and arranger of my works and provide everything needed to realize a complete production. Back then, before I could write the musical parts for the musicians I needed an arranger to do so, but it was my arrangements that they wrote. I sat with and instructed every arranger I worked with how I wanted the songs, and what rifts and motifs to write.” – William Shelly Tobitt in the comments section below the post ‘Press On’

Cuthbert ‘Best’ Williams

Cuthbert ‘Best’ Williams with Queen Ivena

has written winning tunes for Antiguan monarchs Smarty Jr. (who won the crown in 1993, 1994, 1995 with ‘Never Again’, ‘Role of the Calypsonians’, ‘What Black Power Means’, ‘Cry for Change’, ‘Draw the Line’ and ‘Follow the Leader’) and Ivena (who won the monarch crown 2003, 2004, 2005 with ‘Robin Hood in Reverse’, ‘Ivena’s Agenda’, ‘After Lester’, ‘Reparation for Africa’, ‘What Did Castro Say’, and ‘Don’t Pressure Me’; and the  Queen of Calypso crown in 2001 – 2005 with ‘Old Road Fight’, ‘Save Ms. Calypso’, ‘I’m Angry’, ‘Remember the Pledge’, and the other named songs).

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Seriously, a lot of time, energy, love and frustration goes in to researching and creating content for this site; please don’t just take it up just so without even a please, thank you or an ah-fu-she-subben (credit). If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Filed under A & B WRITINGS

Jus Bus Music

Photo by Shelly Chadburn/courtesy Jus Bus

Photo by Shelly Chadburn/courtesy Jus Bus

These excerpts are from an interview with A & B music producer Jus Bus who’s worked on projects for Jah Cure, Snoop Dogg (or Lion), Kes, and others. I decided to share this because I thought some of his realities gave an honest perspective on the realities of being an artiste anywhere, much less the Caribbean.

Me: How do most of your collaborations come about?

Jus Bus: Networking mostly; online or meeting artists and artist management when they are on island or I am overseas. Several different things. Sometimes, I’ll send beats or instrumentals to DJ’s, A&R’s & Label executives and they will then get placed on projects. Before I even met Jah Cure, I got an instrumental placed on his last album project “World Cry” through a friend named DJ Genie; he got the beat to (the) label and then Jah Cure wrote to it then Jazmine Sullivan got the unfinished version with Jah Cure’s vocals on it and then she recorded on it then that colaboration came to fruitation that way and I never met any of them at that time. (I) still don’t know jazmine sullivan other then maybe a retweet of the song on twitter. The same with the Snoop Lion (Snoop Dogg) placement. I produced a beat years  ago then had Supa Dups add instruments to it, then it got placed on a 50 cent project and apparently, as far as I know, he even went as far as recording on it but never released it. So after a year, the track got placed on Snoop Lion’s Reincarnation album project that was spearheaded by Diplo from Major Lazer and RCA records. Then Diplo recorded Snoop on the beat and Collie Buddz – both whom I dont know – and that record came about like that. Sometimes, it’s a joint effort of producers working together so I’ll make the instrumental then another producer will come in and record an artist or add extra music to my arrangement and then we all break down the credits accordingly. So for the Snoop (project), it was Me, Supa Dups & Diplo together for that song; a beat I made 4 years prior to project. The head of RCA records had called me up and worked all the buisness side of things out with me just before the album was released which is how I found out Snoop Dogg even recorded on my beat. But thats how it works sometimes. You send a series of instrumentals to label executives and they end up on different projects, then you eventually get contacted to finish them or to seal up business ends. Now for the Gyal Season riddim, it’s a little easier cause I worked with ZJ Bambino for that one and I did most of the instrumental work while he would be in Jamaica recording all the artists, some of which knew me and some of which knew him and I would take care of recording artists in Antigua. Over time, through these musical collaborations, you eventually meet the artists in person when they come to do shows or when I venture off island. Jah Cure and Busy Signal were here for the last Labour day show and we all ended up in the studio vibing on music together with LoqiQ Pryce and other members of Busy Signal & Jah Cure’s Camp. It’s just a matter of consistency really and using any and every outlet yiou can to make the music. My dream scernarios are always working with the artists live but that isn’t always possible for geographical reasons or finances so you gotta use the technology posisble to make it happen and stay consistent.

Me: Who’s your favourite type of artiste to work with or who has been your favourite artiste to work with?

JB: Who or what? Dont have a “who” really cause I have yet to work with a lot of people I wanna work with but the type of artists and musicans I love to work with are passionate and serious people that ain’t afraid to experiment and dig deep into the musical potential they have. I always have fun working with my team including Drastic & LogiQ Pryce as well as Torsten Stenzel & ZJ Bambino cause they are very sharp and full of ideas always. working with Jah Cure in person is always great to cause he is an extremely passionate vocalist and ready to experiment outside his comfort zone. Me and him even recorded a song duet together called “Kings” that may come to light in 2014 as me and Lawson Lewis have been in talks to shoot a video for the song. but I have worked with so many amazing musicans over the last 10 years that ain’t even mainstream acts, from guitarists to song writers and producers. so I’m grateful.

Me: How do you produce?

JB: I produce mainly using 2 studio monitors, a midi keyboard, and a laptop, which people end up being suprised (by) especially considering the calibre of music that I can push out. I also collaborate with live instrumentalists that range from horn players to guitarists to bass players and keyboardists and even violinists. I dont limit myself cause I try to keep a balance between an organic and analog sound mixed with a digital sound. I believe in making music that taps into people’s emotions and feelings and I feel it’s more effective when you add real players of instruments. I mean, I play keyboards too but only to a certain degree and I need diversity in my productions. I cant be biased and play everything myself. For final stages of production, I usually involve mixing engineers to help me with the final mixes. If I don’t end up doing it myself just to make sure sonically everything sounds right. Other then that, I just dig in and get creative. A lot of the stuff I make starts out with me alone in a corner for hours tweaking sounds and drums then I start
involving other creative people if needed.

Me: Of the forthcoming projects, what are you most looking forward to?

JB: I’m looking foward to everything creative & musical. I can’t even tell the future really and you can’t jump the gun in this game or you’ll shoot your foot off cause one minute you’ll have someone on your track then the next they pull out or push it to the side and you gotta figure something new out. At (the) moment, I’m still finishing up half finished ideas with Jah Cure, Nyla of Brick and Lace and Kes the Band which will eventually come out once we make sure everything sounds great but I don’t wanna jinxx myself so it is what it is when it happens. I love my job so I just stay consistent and pray for the best.

Me: Do you feel you’ve reached the epitome of creative and professional success? And if so, how do you define it: money, output, creating something special and enduring, all of the above, what?

JB: I’m far from reaching the peak of everything. I don’t even think I’m tipping the iceberg as they say yet and I been in this game for over 9 years and counting. I’m only now, this year, gaining some momentum with the high profile collaborations I’ve managed to gain under my belt. So I’d say I have a big toe in the door but nothing more. Still a lot of hard work, hours, and time need to be invested. It’s an ongoing battle even getting a placement ’cause a lot of the markets are oversaturated with producers who think ’cause they can loop a few melodies in fruity loops they are a producer. It takes a lot more to guide a project together. You need to be a leader not just someone who will make a beat and expect it to just magically appear on a project. Now I still struggle with making a living out of music but that’s the choice I made career wise,  I already knew what I was getting myself into. So once I stay watering my trees I will eventually be able to bare the fruit that manifests from these trees. Now these metaphorcal fruit I speak of isn’t just monetary or finacial stability but something to be proud of, something that will inspire people mentally and emotionally. I honestly wanna leave a legacy of music and creativity for our island and the world that will live forever. But if I just make disposable material, then it will fade away and won’t stand the test of time and I dont want that. I mean, if thats what you wanna do to gain quick material wealth then that’s your choice but I want people to aspire to something greater ’cause yuh cyant dead with di money, you know. Live for now. I know a lot of musicians that don’t see hope in a music career and become miserable and get stuck in a shit pool of monotony just cause they seek only money, which is sad. ‘Cause I appreciate my material and works more through the struggle, and it makes me work even harder. There have been times when I’ve wanted to just give up and call it quits but then how would that look to the many youths that look up to what me and my friends are doing? And just when I think it can’t get any worse, Sony Records will call up and say ‘yeh, remember that placement you submitted 6 months ago? Well, yeh, we need you to sign the contracts’ and it lifts you out the dark frame of mind you’re in cause then you’re like, well maybe this can work if I dedicate the time I need to get it done. This music thing isn’t for the impatient, I’ll tell you that. You gotta be very, very patient and just work constantly and it all starts to come toegther. ‘Cause who knows, maybe I wont reach the exact level of success I want to be on but I sure will fight and die trying to get there. Maybe a generation later on this island, what me and many other people are doing here will resonate and start up a whole new revenue stream from different genres of music other than soca and calypso. And I believe when a majority of our society can see food on their plate from money made from different genres of music and creativity, then (is) when they (will) be serious and genuinely support it. And not just speak about support but act out support on a pysical level and get more involved. Which will propel everything so much more. Really honestly though, it’s bigger then just me. I mean music and creativity is my escape and therapy to life’s hardships and life’s beauty but all this is a bigger, and I believe we are all connected and we each have a job on earth guided by a higher power. As they say, “Jah Nah Sleep!” So, if i can inspire through creativity and music sign me up cause at the end of the day that goes way further in the long run than my own personal wealth. As for the question of the peak of creative success, I doubt that will ever stop. I tap into my potential every day and ever year. I mean I’m doing things such as singing and photography that I’d never think I’d ever be doing and now I’m doing it because with a little guidance and a belief in yourself you can do anything you want. I started out breakdancing in high school here at school events and fashion shows then went onto being in a sound system and lifting speaker boxes and learning how to mix on turntables with Irish of Renegade Sound. I even used to save up 10ec every week to go get a brand new 45 record at the record store to contribute to sound. I then went on to self teach graphic design & music production by trial and error and tips from different people in those fields. I don’t recomend dropping out of high school in 4th form like I did ’cause I think that with the right schooling at a college and
university would have got me further quicker. But I do think that if you dont have those options, you can easily put your mind to anything and get it done. The info is all around if you seek it. I also have a little advice for the parents: if your child has a set talent or skill and is in love with the idea of one day making a career out of it, show your support and help guide your child into it with the help of education. Don’t shoot their dreams down. It’s important that
you help them to be their own individual and just cause you may or may have not got to do what you wanted, don’t force them to be something they don’t wanna be.

Photo by Shelly Chadburn/courtesy Jus Bus

Photo by Shelly Chadburn/courtesy Jus Bus

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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