The imposing stage at Jamworld, St. Catherine, Jamaica, the largest open-air entertainment center in the Caribbean and occasional home of Sting and former home of Reggae Sunsplash, is a challenge for any musical artist. When an entertainer fails to meet audience expectations there, the repercussions are greatly magnified; but when an artist delivers spectacularly, the effects seem to reverberate all the way to the island’s north coast!
While Sunsplash ’94 was, as a whole, not as successful as previous years, the five-day event nonetheless produced some unforgettable musical moments that are still being talked about. On Dancehall Night, the performance most “Splashers” are still raving about came from Capleton.
Buju Banton cries out for divine help in “God of my Salvation”; Capleton gives assurance that the Emperor still sits on the throne with the constant reminder that “Selassie liveth every time,” while Garnet Silk’s equally prolific shouts of “Jah Rastafari” have given the proclamation Bob Marley made internationally famous new flavor.
Such are the lyrics of cultural change that have been blaring through the speakers of Jamaica’s dance halls in recent times, replacing the gun and ribald lyrics of the DJs that dominated for the greater part of a decade. The cultural rebirth in the dance halls has also sparked a second coming of the Rastafari religion that traces its roots back to the late 1950s and which gained worldwide prominence in the 1970s with the international emergence of the dreadlocked Marley.
Buju’s newfound faith has been wholly accepted by the youth with whom he can do no wrong. The same can be said of fellow DJ Capleton and charismatic singer Silk, one of the forerunners of the revival. Their impact is there for all to see. It’s in vogue to wear locks again. It’s even cool to openly acknowledge Jah without fear of being ridiculed. It’s Jamaica 1995 and it’s hip to be Rasta. Whether a “God of my Salvation” will hold relevance as a “Roof Over my Head” 10 years from now is left to be seen. That could all depend on whether Buju and Capleton decide to forsake their still growing locks and Rasta rhetoric for the latest “talk,” or look, in the coming months. Continue reading →