Album: Various artists

Am I Black Enough for You?, TROJAN
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The Independent Culture

Black Pride issues are so often subsumed within the wider context of reggae's Rastafarian and roots culture that it's not until a group of such songs are collected that one realises how deeply politicised the genre is. These 21 tracks, from Jamaican music's golden age in the Seventies, cover a range of racially related issues, from liberation battle-cries such as Peter Tosh's "Arise Blackman" and Bob Andy's "Fire Burning" to Linval Thompson's Black Star Liner-themed "Africa Is for Black Man", with its fancifully naive notion of returning to Nigeria and "sitting upon the throne", and Leo Simpson's condemnation of blacks who "use your smartness to oppress your own black brother" in "Black Oppressor", which adds a deeper, class-based dimension. Following standard Jamaican practice, several are adaptations of contemporary US soul songs: the earliest track here is Derrick Harriott's arrangement of The Temptations' "Message from a Blackman", in which spoken passages alternate with Harriott's high-register s

Black Pride issues are so often subsumed within the wider context of reggae's Rastafarian and roots culture that it's not until a group of such songs are collected that one realises how deeply politicised the genre is. These 21 tracks, from Jamaican music's golden age in the Seventies, cover a range of racially related issues, from liberation battle-cries such as Peter Tosh's "Arise Blackman" and Bob Andy's "Fire Burning" to Linval Thompson's Black Star Liner-themed "Africa Is for Black Man", with its fancifully naive notion of returning to Nigeria and "sitting upon the throne", and Leo Simpson's condemnation of blacks who "use your smartness to oppress your own black brother" in "Black Oppressor", which adds a deeper, class-based dimension. Following standard Jamaican practice, several are adaptations of contemporary US soul songs: the earliest track here is Derrick Harriott's arrangement of The Temptations' "Message from a Blackman", in which spoken passages alternate with Harriott's high-register singing. "Is It Because I'm Black?" finds Ken Boothe sounding gruffer and more soulful on Syl Johnson's protest anthem than on his usual pop-styled material. There's no real American precedent, however, for Max Romeo's "Macabee Version", a Rasta attack on white-oriented interpretation of the scriptures in the King James Bible.

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