Sunday, March 10, 2013

Oku & AK7 - Pressure Drop (1984)

When I read WorldService's eloquent, recent post describing the surreal politics in Italy, without even mentioning the sublime and sordid fiasco in the clerical state-within-a-state, and depicting corruption in the Netherlands, where politicians in bed with financiers are fleecing the ordinary taxpayer, it made me think of this country, the U$A. How normal, how absolutely mundane, in comparison. Here our enlightened government has a very hard time deciding whether it has the right to murder its own citizens on our own soil. Whether or not it is okay to have a drone bomb a cafe to kill a U$ citizen who may be reading something objectionable online, or chatting with relatives in Pakistan via Skype. You know, those imminent-threat characters. Collateral deaths (deaths of the innocent) are regrettable, of course. Executing people anywhere else in the world is fine, naturally, so be careful who you are sitting next too! Our eminent president already has assumed authority to kill anyone he deems to be a threat to the U$, theoretically even someone who may have voted for him, believing he would bring a more humanitarian approach to the world's most powerful office. What gives him this right? Legal arguments that are classified and therefore hidden from the citizenry.

As I contemplated the gloomy state of reality, I happened to digitize this record of scorching dub poetry by the "grandfather" of the art, Oku Onuora. His first poem "A Slum Dweller Declares," written from prison, begins:
We wan fi free, free from misery, we want to live like human beings.

That powerful poem is followed by ten more uncompromising ones, mostly set to tough riddims and tight instrumentals. Anyone familiar with the music of Linton Kwesi Johnson will feel at home in this rich, provocative environment. A hard life informs Oku's cry for justice, and passion drips from his voice. In these days of callous, imperial governments around the world, and exquisitely manufactured apathy among entire populations of consumers, this music has never seemed more essential. Where are today's militants? Not the ones motivated by delusional belief systems, but those seeking justice?


Chris Albertyn said...

Shared sentiments indeed - thanks for this Oku, do not know it and look forward to listening - Cheers

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this, and I'm looking forward to listening to it - though I doubt he can be called the "grandfather" of the style as LKJ was already at it in 1976! Nice to see Chris Albertyn here too - I have got much fantastic music from both of your blogs in the past. How to say thanks? Easy! How about three extremely rare live recordings: Linton Kwesi Johnson in concert for the BBC in 1978, and two classic Zimbabwean groups live in 1989, the much-regretted Four Brothers and Bhundu Boys. Find them here but get them quick (and re-post them?); these are the only web posts I have ever seen for these recordings, and all thanks to the great archivevibes: scroll down to LKJ)

All links still live as of today.

Cheers and thanks, Dave Sez.

Anonymous said...

Apologies for my hasty judgment in the above comment ... "grandfather" he was indeed. So I'm particularly looking forward to listening to this one! Cheers, Dave Sez.

Rhythm Connection said...

@ Dave Sez: No problem, Dave, and thanks for the comments. Yes, hardened in prison for rebel activities, Oku is the real deal. I guess he became friends with LKJ. Speaking of whom, "dread beat n blood" is rolling around in turntable now. . . Oh, and thanks for the links you provided! I look forward to listening to those. Lately I've been listening to some great concerts on

@ Chris: Thanks for coming by and leaving a nice note, which cheered me up!

G Man said...

What a great album! Oku is amazing. "Mutabaruka" came to my mind when I heard it at first. Thank you!