Recorded live in Jamaica, this podcast critically explores life, art, and culture. Yes, everything from music to the _isms to migration to love. Press play on conversations and musings that give way to reflections on what matters to us today, so that our voices may be preserved and future generations can know.
In the fresh mountain air of the Habitat studio, Protoje and I had a reflective conversation about how a French novel was able to "dub" its way into his latest music project, In Search of Lost Time. This episode digs into the influence of Marcel Proust, hip hop, and classic Jamaican dub on Protoje. And this episode also explores the risk of labels, the possibility of feminism, and Black Lives Matter in a Jamaican context. **Listen to the bonus material for some additional information on contemporary protest.
It's time to end systemic oppression.** Recommended listening: Protoje's In Search of Lost Time (2020), Common's Like Water for Chocolate (2000). Recommended reading: Diana McCaulay's Daylight Come (2020), Laura Esquivel's Como agua para chocolate / Like Water for Chocolate (1989), Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time (1922- 1933, Moncrieff's English translation).
My guest for this episode is the one and only poet-professor-Portlander, Ishion Hutchinson. We recorded this conversation via video conferencing as we each lazed in our yards, feeling tethered by the hammock of history and comforted by thoughts of home. Hear macaws and other birds endemic to Jamaica, sing meaningfully as a kind of soundtrack to our chat. Hear how our audio sometimes sizzles and our voices sometimes glitch, and think of how the digital creates a kind of dub-like recording. Think of sound and imagination as you listen to this one. Think of home, homecoming, and returns. Think of maroons and coves. Think of yourself and your nation and know that we're always home. ***Recommended reading: Ishion Hutchinson's House of Lords and Commons (2016) and Far District (2010), and any and all poems by Derek Walcott.
Borrowing its title from "Seasons of Love," the signature score of the musical Rent, this episode is blessed with the creative energy of Shanique Marie, a Jamaican singer, songwriter, and lover of words. We discuss the curious (sometimes frustrating) ways that Jamaican music is heard as alien at home, yet welcomed as familiar in foreign lands. We discuss her trip to West Africa, being stuck in European airports as COVID-19 began closing national borders, and spending 48+ hours in a mask. How will Shanique Marie measure the year 2020? How will any of us? In minutes or in bullets? In sickness or in creativity? Spoiler alert; this episode measures life in love of family, art, and community. Listen in, support the arts, and vote to end the laws that protect Breonna Taylor's killers. ~ Riddim.Writer.
"Seasons of Love" (1996) from the Tony Award-winning musical Rent. Written and scored by JONATHAN LARSON.
"I Should Have Hugged You Tighter When We Last Met [Oh what a joy]" (2020). Written/ Performed/ Produced by BALRAJ SINGH SAMRAI. PANDIT G. GAVSBORG. FARAH AHMAD KHAN. SHANIQUE MARIE. TUNDE ADEKOYA. VIKAASH.
With many music writers always seeking to classify and categorize Jamaican music, I am happy to share this on-time conversation with Alanna Stuart. Alanna is one half of the musical duo Bonjay. She is an amazingly talented singer, songwriter, and producer who recognizes her roots as a third Jamaican, a third Grenadian, and perhaps, a third complicated by the great white North that is the Canada of her upbringing. Tune in for conversation about voice, language and how they define our identities (personal, musical, and cultural). This episode features "Want a Gang” by Bonjay. It was released in 2010 on the album “Broughtupsy.” You can stream all of Alanna’s/ Bonjay's/ Pyne's music and purchase it via the Bandcamp app. Take a listen, and hear the noise that runs through her blood to form, complicate, and constantly reconstruct her identity.
~ Riddim Writer.
Suggested reading: Carolyn Cooper's Noises in the Blood: Orality, Gender, and The "Vulgar" Body of Jamaican Popular Culture (1993).
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is it that we see? With public debate booming about a young girl's right to wear her hair in dreadlocks at school, one wonders if any of us are ready to take a long look at ourselves in the mirror of history. Are we yet ready to be independent? My guest for episode two is my friend LA Wanliss. She is a poet, writer, editor, teacher, and dramaturg here in Kingston, Jamaica. She joins me to discuss the performance of the national via representations of the personal and vice versa, as the two are always linked. As you listen, you may find fragments of yourself in this conversation; but more than that, I hope that you find a desire to look more critically at the idea of independence and identity. Suggested Reading: Una Marson's "Kinky Hair Blues" (1937), Roger Mais' "Now we Know" (1944) and "Where the Roots Lie" (1940), and Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John (1983).
Welcome to Season Two! This first episode looks at being Black in educational settings, not just in the U.S., but also in Jamaica, a predominantly African-descent nation, but a country that subscribes to and abides by a white, British colonial system of inequality. My esteemed guest is someone who's been schooling me since birth: my big sis Njeri Semaj. As an expert Black woman and as an expert educator with two decades of professional experience across multiple educational models, I turn to her for perspective as we prepare for a new academic year in the midst of COVID-19 and racism. Spoiler alert: Njeri proposes that we decolonize everything. I recommend that you get in touch with her if you're interested in balancing for better: www.njerisemaj.com. (Additional Credits: Big up to @josh2funny for the viral #dontleavemechallenge and to my Ace Aminah for taking part.
Recommended reading: Frederick Douglass' 1845 text Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave and Frantz Fanon's 1952 text Black Skin, White Masks. Recommending screening: Darrel Roodt's 1992 adaptation of Mbongeni Ngema's 1987 musical Sarafina! and the 2019 YAK Films short film based on the spoken word poetry of Marc Bamuthi Joseph titled About Face.)
This episode is about the collision of past and future and the making of an uncomfortable present. In this conversation with my friends John and Valerie, they talked to me about 1970s Jamaica. During the Manley years, the country was sent into a kind of lockdown, but this was also a time of innovative opportunity and identity building. Together we discussed how race and access impact everything from fashion to employment to the uneven hand of the law. This episode is the Season 1 closer and it clarifies just what is meant by posterity. Big up to Future, Kendrick Lamar, Jah9, and Lila Ike for their musical expression.
Listen. Subscribe. Share. #RiddimWriter #ForPosterity
Contrary to popular belief, there is a reading culture in Jamaica and this episode proves it. So listen up, because this episode is embedded with a book list. Yay! With Gavin “Dutty Bookman” Hutchinson in the studio, we talked about the revolutionary power of printed words to motivate us to be better, stronger, and wiser. We bigged up all the word generators that continue to spark minds. Love to W.E.B. DuBois, Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Kabaka Pyramid, and the one and only Jah9. We also salute the Harlem Renaissance, the Jamaican Revival and the Reggae Revival, PREE, and the go-to conscious bookseller I-Nation, as well as the writers and lyricists that are being forged in the fire right now. Thank you to my new friend and generous guest, Dutty Bookman. Keep manifesting. Everyone should pick up Tried and True, Fatidic: Selected Duttyisms, and I. Mann Open the Gate, all written and published by my guest for Episode 6. Listen to the talking. Then do more writing and reading.
Home is that place we are either running to or running away from. This conversation is with the esteemed, multi-award winning Jamaican novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn. Nicole is the multi-award winning author of Here Comes the Sun (2016) and Patsy (2019). We met-up in a cafe in Kingston, Jamaica to discuss life and the role of home in shaping each of our identities as well as the identities of her captivating fictional characters. When we sat down in February and chatted though, we could not have anticipated all of the ways that home would become more complicated, especially for women. We are presently in a time of pandemic, such that staying home could save your life. And despite the "modern times," the majority of the home and house work duties still fall on the shoulders of women. So, in honor of the poets in the kitchen who do the housework — both the paid and the unpaid — I dedicate this episode to Patsy, Paule Marshall, and all the women in between. This is For Posterity.
Stitched together under self-isolation, this episode of For Posterity sits curiously between science and science fiction, somewhere between literary escape and writing reality. As I consider the possibility that we are living in a kind of "end of days", I realize that it's all about the word and how words will, ultimately, save us all. Well, words and washing our hands. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, these are the remotely gathered voices of a few dear writer friends, sharing their own words in their own voices. You'll hear from Jamaican writer and Renaissance man Roland Watson-Grant, Dominican American scholar-poet-painter Ines P. Rivera Prosdocimi, and Trinidadian artist-activist-attorney Caroline Mair-Toby. Press play and escape into words with me.
Jah9 is a Jamaican woman, a yogi, and a social scientist. It is also a fact that she writes, sings, produces, and dubs music. We sat down to talk about names, family, strength, weakness, and the word "should". But where else did the conversation go? Well, we wound up speaking quite “highly”* of black men. As you listen, you’ll hear a powerful story that reveals a deep racial need to learn to make love instead of making bucks. So, are you ready? Are you capable of loving "highly"? Press play and find out. *Jah9’s latest single “Highly” is featured on this episode. "Highly" is co-produced by Runkus and Iotosh and is on Jah9’s forthcoming album NOTE TO SELF (out March 13). Be vulnerable and let love light the way. Listen. Follow. Share.
< Follow me on IG @Riddim.Writer / Twitter @IsisSemajHall - Follow Jah9 on IG @jah9online / Twitter @jah9 >>
When Protoje gathered four recording artistes and asked each one to sing a powerful song on a single vibesy riddim, reggae music fans were gifted with "Peace of Mind," "Haul & Pull," "Inspiration," and a fourth single that borrows its title from the riddim itself, "Rock & Groove." But, when FOR POSTERITY gathered those same recording artistes -- Naomi Cowan, Sevana, Lila Iké, and Jaz Elise -- to talk about living life in the spotlight, what I experienced was a rich and nuanced conversation about being Jamaican women and “role models,” unapologetic self-expression in 2020, the chance to inspire individuality, taking time to recharge the self, silencing randoms and trolls, and sitting in one’s purpose with a good book in hand. As you listen to Episode 2, notice how my guests come alive at the possibility of working with women producers in Jamaica and the reality that the musical atmosphere is changing. Yes, more and more it is becoming a welcoming community of collaboration. These amazing ladies show that Koffee’s big Grammy win in the reggae category is both the culmination of decades of little steps and the commencement of even bigger steps for women in Jamaica’s contemporary music world. This is for female posterity. (Also, big up Drake and *bonus clips at the end* every time!) 《Follow me on IG @Riddim.Writer / Twitter @IsisSemajHall - Follow Naomi on IG @naomicowan / Sevana on IG @callmesevana / Lila on IG @lilaike / and Jaz on IG @officialjazelise - I encourage you to stream, buy, support their music. One love.》
We record everything - videos/ voices/ this podcast... So what does loss mean in this age of big data and even bigger memory? What is palimpsest in an ever-changing urban environment like Kingston, Jamaica? These are some of the topics that Equiknoxx's Gavsborg discusses with me on this inaugural episode. In a tech world full of sights and sounds, we explore what this genius producer wants recorded FOR POSTERITY. You may be surprised by his answers. Enjoy all of the outtakes at the end. 《Follow me on IG @Riddim.Writer / Twitter @IsisSemajHall - Follow Equiknoxx on IG @equiknoxxmusic - I encourage you to stream, buy, support their music. One love.》
Welcome to FOR POSTERITY. I'm your host the Riddim Writer. Through conversations with guests each episode will critically engage life, art, and the unexpected. Join me regularly to take an active listen to what's happening in Jamaica now. FOR POSTERITY is here to be a digital record for future generations to tease apart later.