Living in Love
I-Wayne is probably the only performer I wouldn’t just approach if I saw him on the street. It’s not because I think he’s more ill-tempered than any other star but I have this real fear of him realizing that I wasn’t living right and deliver the requisite rebuff.
For me and my friends in high school, I-Wayne represented the first line of radical “Rasta” artistes that was able to articulate on multiple levels. He was radical but definitely not under-informed. Really, it seemed like made a distinct choice to be the way he was and he was cool with what came with it.
And that’s kinda been the story of his career, because we always think that he’s stadium rocker material but his uncompromising nature wouldn’t necessarily facilitate that. And he’s stayed relevant while the usual story is a deviation along the way.
One of his most poignant and scathing reviews comes in at track 12 on his criminally under-appreciated studio debut, Lava Ground. Just typing the words “lava ground” actually makes me break out into a mental falsetto of the chorus of another song on the cut. But, if you don’t know it, take a listen below. If you do know it, then listen it again, why not?
The first line is almost a red herring:
“I love to see my people living in love”
Because he says it in the present tense, it sounds less of a wish and more of an actuality. But here comes the cold water;
“I hate to see them fighting & swimming in blood
This is Jamaica.
Our culture is still based on the substructure of colonialism and while it’s largely unseen and unmentioned, forms the basis of our societal make-up. There is a hierarchy and there are ways up or around and the result of that struggle seems to be what we see as our violence problem. My theory anyway.
“Nuff neglect the farming, scorning the mud
Yet they want to be the first to reap the fruit as it bud”
Agriculture is having a revival in the stakes for our attention because well…pandemic. Agriculture hasn’t been cool since I was a kid and I grew up in the Nassau Valley belt of cane cropping. I always wanted to get out and go do everything other than farming but I think this song always kept some sort of grounding. Like a horcrux. Of sorts.
“Dem fill the earth with prison, church, and whore house
Love the rum bar, yet them hate the pure house”
I’m one of those persons that find the word “whore house” very uncomfortable and I think that’s why he uses it. But other than the space in a bar, i’ve always wondered why he chose those three institutions to single out. And especially, prisons. I’ve always found the idea of prison interesting because from a certain angle, prisons are really physical restrictions for the violation of an imaginary rule. I was having a conversation earlier this week about the role of “myths” and by virtue “shared myths” in our society. The “Law” is in reality a concept that we all agree to believe in because there is a promise that with “law” comes “order”. The reason why the inclusion of prisons is interesting here is that being outside of the law doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re wrong but it can definitely land you inside a jail. The implications of that aren’t really that fantastical as every king, dictator or any such leader has used prisons as control mechanisms rather than as a benefit to the individuals of the society itself.
“Dem take the microchip and now a wrath a pour out
In 2004, the microchip thing was still pretty much the territory of evangelists but 16 years later. Here we are;
I’m on the fence about the wrath part because I’m very pragmatic about where we’re going as a race and the role that technology will play in our actual life.
Less food, more drought and more mouth (oh)”
Well, that’s as succinct as you can sum up our current global dilemma of climate change and population growth.
“Rasta tell dem all the while
For my parents, the church and its various institutions provided the moral backbone of their upbringing but in my teenage years, those ideas started to feel restrictive. Rastafarian culture was almost a happy medium where it was still heavily Christian influenced but had the radical nous necessary to attract my teenaged sensibilities.
“Stop war and go till the soil
Stop fighting for land and oil
Fi di coil so many go defile
If you take land and oil here to be just placeholders for what Oprah Book Club members (I am a friendly, please stand down) might call “baubles”, then it’s a typical moral parable about what you’re willing to do for success.
“Slave master spit inna dem face dem tek dat wit a smile”
I mean, shit. It’s jarring. We would all hope that we’re not that person being described here but I know for sure that this line gets called up on my mind’s audio player whenever I feel as if I’m not getting my fair shake. We really are the average of the content we retain, in whatever form.
Di banks of the nile so mild and so fertile acres more than a zillion mile
People acting vile pick up cannibal style
Wah devour mama, papa, and child, (oh)”
When I get to interview I-Wayne I’ll ask him about this part because for me, it’s just vibes.
The implication in the subsequent lyrics are far-reaching and just as thought provoking but I’m really not in the mood for that smoke right now.
Lemme know what you guys think about this breakdown.
Andre Burnett was a co-founder of Krash, which pales in comparison to numerous achievements and ideas conceived and executed during his time on earth. A giant.