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.
June is #ReadCaribbean month and I'm here for the literary celebration! With novelist, writer, activist Edwidge Danticat as my guest for this Season 4 opener, we share stories of the past even as we discuss the now. We talk about storytelling alongside Black-girl-motherhood in 2021. We discuss memory and migration stories. We discuss the arc of her writing, hope, Haiti, Jamaica, Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” (1978), Charles Mingus’ “Haitian Fight Song” (1957), a little Shabba Ranks, and Everything Inside (2019) right back to Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994). Tune in. This is For Posterity.
Voice Notes to Self (part 2): Just as the previous episode did, this episode is in response to the many news articles written about women during the pandemic and it is inspired by Jah9's song "Note to Self." This episode is here to intentionally record and amplify women's uncensored experiences over the last year. Women have been doing an unequal share of the work of caring for family members, schooling children, keeping house, and nursing patients back to health, all while appearing composed and full of grace. What a difficult facade to keep up all of the time. Recognizing this as a woman myself, I offer this episode as a space for women to be heard, for you to listen, and a space that will hopefully encourage you to check in on yourself and the women and girls that you love. This episode listens to women who have been navigating, coping, and surviving a global pandemic. As you listen to S3/ Ep5 and S3/ Ep4, please hear their voices with an open heart and find yourself amongst their stories.
Thank you to the women who shared their voice notes to self so publicly: Nicole Fields, Karen Thaxter-Nesbeth, Patricia V., Moji A., and Lizzy Brown. And thank you to the music makers whose songs have been my salve. Enjoy their songs on Spotify or wherever you stream music: Jah9 feat Chronixx "Note to Self", Alanna Stuart "Black Voices Matter", Jaz Elise "Good over Evil", Gavsborg "Domestic Termites Love Rock Music", and Sevana "Phone a Friend". All of the music featured on this episode was released between March 2020 and March 2021, year one of the coronavirus global pandemic. Listen deeply.
Please click here for more information about the collaborative partnerships made possible by Level Fields.
Voice Notes to Self (part 1): In response to the many news articles written about women during the pandemic and inspired by Jah9's song "Note to Self", this episode is here to intentionally record and amplify women's uncensored experiences over the last year. Women have been doing an unequal share of the work of caring for family members, schooling children, keeping house, and nursing patients back to health, all while appearing composed and full of grace. What a difficult facade to keep up all of the time. Recognizing this as a woman myself, I offer this episode as a space for women to be heard, for you to listen, and a space that will hopefully encourage you to check in on yourself and the women and girls that you love. This episode listens to women who have been navigating, coping, and surviving a global pandemic. As you listen to S3/ Ep4 and S3/ Ep5, please hear their voices with an open heart and find yourself amongst their stories.
Thank you to the women who shared their voice notes: Desiree Campbell, Merissa Collins, Naita Semaj Williams, Anita Baksh, and Elizabeth Todd Breland. And thank you to the music makers whose songs have been my balm. Enjoy their songs on Spotify or wherever you stream/ purchase music: Jah9 feat Chronixx "Note to Self", Runkus feat Naomi Cowan "Everybody Going Live", Aminah Rose "Who Knew", Hugh feat Bonjay "Walk It Off", and Lila Ike "Where I'm Coming From." All of the music featured on this episode was released between March 2020 and March 2021, year one of the coronavirus global pandemic. Listen deeply.
Please click here for more information about the non-profit survivor-centered gender justice organization the Jahajee Sisters.
This episode celebrates the 1 year anniversary of Jah9’s third studio album Note to Self (March 2020). We discuss how Jah9 has grown from living in Tanzania for a year, we deconstruct race identity, she shares how she has continued to work on herself and how you can surrender to yourself via a Note to Self reboot that will be a Feel Good retreat hosted in Zanzibar this year (details at Jah9.com). We wrap-up with a chat about how the music of both East and West Africa are influencing the future of her musical sound. Don't miss this conversation. Join me #ForPosterity. You may stream Jah9’s music on all music platforms and watch her live performance at the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival, virtual edition, on March 5, 2021. Details are available at jamaicajazzandblues.com and on their social media accounts. Music notes: "Hey You" from Jah9's Note to Self (2020). Reading notes: Vincent Carretta's Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the Eighteenth Century (2003 is the updated edition).
My guest is Mr. Christopher Creary and our conversation is about plants that are mistakenly believed to be native to or indigenous to the Caribbean. This conversation was recorded at the former Hope Experimental Garden (now the Royal Hope Botanic Gardens). If you’re ever at the Gardens, pay Mr. Creary a visit. You will be glad you did. For now, enjoy this episode about how plants, communities, and street names reveal Jamaica's colonial history. Reader’s reference: William Fawcett’s “The Public Gardens and Plantations of Jamaica” published in The Botanical Gazette (1897), the novels and poetry collections of Jamaica Kincaid, Olive Senior, and Lorna Goodison. Musical references: “Over the Hills and Far Away” performed by Hilary James and Simon Mayer (via YouTube) and “Where Is My Home” by Aisha (via Bandcamp).
As a public figure who has, for some forty years, inspired Jamaican people and encouraged Caribbean and global businesses to make better investments in their employees, my season 3 opening guest is none other than Chief Ideator of Above or Beyond, Dr. Leahcim Semaj, my father. This episode is a collection of his lived experiences, which prove that the personal is the universal and that community can be found in a neighborhood or in a book. And the amalgamation of his stories is best summed up by the Jamaican proverb "Nuh One Way duh fe Heng Daag," which translates from the Jamaican to the English to mean “there isn’t just one way to hang a dog.” If we are to survive in this world, we may sometimes have to find alternative means to the ends we seek. This episode is a celebration of the power of words to uplift people, define identity, and shift one's perspective. This is For Posterity.
After working the land all night, home is where one wants to be when daylight come. But, what if your Caribbean home is deadly hot because of climate change or the depletion of natural, protective resources? What would happen if daylight kills? This episode features Diana McCaulay, the author of Daylight Come (2020) and four other amazing novels that explore her real Jamaica. Diana is also, notably, a sharp environmental activist and was the founder and CEO of Jamaica Environment Trust (JET). Amongst other missions, Diana has been at the forefront of the 25-year battle against bauxite mining in Jamaica’s Cockpit Country. Our conversation is a matter of life and death for this sun-soaked island in the sea. Listen in now and support the mission by following JET on social media. Together we can stop the mining and protect Jamaica. < Episode Reading List: Dog-Heart (2010), Huracan (2012), Gone to Drift (2016), White Liver Gal (2017), and Daylight Come (2020) all by Diana McCaulay. And read her non-fiction words in PREE @ www.preelit.com >> < Episode Music List: "Day-O/ Banana Boat Song" by Harry Belafonte (1956).>>
Sometimes we have to sink into the depths so that we can eventually GET FREE. So, if you’re ready to give yourself over to word and sound power, then listen in on this conversation with my guest, the DJ-producer, Jamaican-raised, Brooklyn-dwelling, soundscape-maker, and body-controller Dion McKenzie, better known as Tygapaw. We discuss marronage, trauma, music, badmind, and process. This episode features new music by Tygapaw whose debut album GET FREE is available for purchase on Bandcamp.com and for streaming elsewhere. This episode features "Facety," "Who Can't Hear Must Feel" and references "Ode to Black Trans Lives" and "Ownland." This episode launches on World AIDS Day 2020 and also references the poetry of Kwame Dawes. I hope that my conversation with this awesome DJ may save somebody's life. This is #ForPosterity
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.