On rude reggae

However, rude reggae did not start with the slackness of DJs in the 1980s and later. As Stanley-Niaah notes, Jamaica has a long tradition of rude lyrics dating back to mento, perhaps the first distinctively Jamaican musical genre, in the 1950s. Stanley-Niaah specifically mentions Lloydie and the Lowbites album, Censored, and some tracks by Prince Buster.

The Lloydie and the Lowbites album—the pseudonymous Lloydie was actually the rock steady artist, Lloyd Charmers—was released in 1972 and represents something of a high point in the tradition perhaps influenced by rude reggae’s popularity in Britain among skinheads. Kevin O’Brien Chang and Wayne Chen write that:

Jamaica has a long and honoured tradition of .. . suggestive, sexually-oriented music. Mento, even more than its Trinidadian cousin calypso, was always noted for its earthy themes. Songs such as ‘Mary Ann’ .. . and ‘Big Bamboo’ .. . are still staples on the tourist circuit.

They go on to discuss the importance of rudeness in ska and mention Prince Buster’s 1969 release, ‘Wreck A Pum Pum’ (‘pum pum’ can be translated by the vernacular ‘pussy’) which Buster sang over a version of the Christmas carol, ‘Little Drummer Boy’. A year earlier, Buster had released a ska version of the mento track, ‘Rough Rider’. The album which included it, as well as ‘Wine & Grind’, She Was a Rough Rider, was released in Britain in 1969.

From: Judge Dread, Ska, Rock Steady and Rudeness, found in:

Jon Stratton (2014) Judge Dread: Music Hall Traditionalist or Postcolonial
, Contemporary British History.

Image source: Prince Buster’s All Stars / The Rude Girls ‎– Wreck A Pum Pum / Wreck A Buddy


” “Art.” By “art” is meant the ability to perceive the things of God and to be sensitively aware of the sacred in life; it is a man’s inherent ability to see through the apparent to the real, to separate the false from the true, and to discern the good; but not only this. It is also, and essentially, the power of communicating knowledge, and a knowledge which is basically neither the learning from books nor sheer doctrine, but a mystical experience. Elders of the movement say that they will only accept a man with this “art.” “Not every man with a beard is a Rasta- man-We take a man with art. ” In a sense, also, “art” means the art of understanding the minds of other men. This is something inborn, which cannot be acquired by study and good works if it is not already there, but which can be sharpened by discussion with right- minded people and by ritual observance. A man may discover it in himself after living the major part of his life in dis- solute unawareness. It was there all the time, but he did not know it. The more men can learn about themselves and their natures the more they can draw out this skill and develop it. When a man is expounding doctrine movingly, or praising God in powerful fashion, his listeners call out “Art I Art I Mighty art I Ja Rastafari I” Nothing can make up for the absence of art. In the words of one Rasta informant, “Some have all the zeal of God, but not the knowledge.”

Found in Doctrine,  from: Protest and Mysticisim: The Rastafari Cult of Jamaica

Author: Sheila Kitzinger
Source: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Autumn, 1969)

Image source: http://www.islandoutpost.com



So tuned to the beat of Burru drums, the early Rasta lamentations, comprised of mournful dirges of Christian songs, hymns, and psalms from the Psalter, were social, political, and religious commentary on the unfavorable condition of the black Jamaican masses, and of the Rastafarians in particular. As the movement responded to harassment and persecution from the Jamaican public and the “Babylon police” in the 1950s, these lamentations became increasingly militant with a strong revolution and liberation motif. By the 1960s, Rastas had developed an impressive repertoire of musical lamentations adopted to their peculiar method of black revolutionary protest and call for political, social, and economic change in Jamaica. In 1969, The Melodians, comprising Brent Dowe, Tony Brevette, and Trevor McNaughton, sang Psalm 137 in new Rasta voices under the title “Rivers of Babylon.” The song remained local until “Bonnie Em,” singing under the influence of reggae star Bob Marley and the Wailers, did a Cover Disco Version in 1975, which became an immediate hit internationally.

Found in Why the Hebrew Psalms? from Tuning Hebrew Psalms to Reggae Rhythms: Rastas’ Revolutionary Lamentations for Social Change

Source: CrossCurrents, Vol. 50, No. 4, Jewish–Christian Relations (WINTER 2000/2001)

Image source: The Melodians – Rivers of Babylon 7″