Letter: Crispy and radical

From Ms Elizabeth Blum
Friday 16 April 1993 23:02

Sir: Gastropod, in his entertaining item on the Jordans Country Crisp advert (3 April), is intrigued by the 'old ska tune' accompanying the ad. It is The People's Court, a biting political satire released in 1991 by Jamaica's top dub poet Mutabaruka. The rap condemns Jamaica's political leaders for, among other things, 'selling out poor people to the IMF and the World Bank' and 'burning the ganja fields, depriving small farmers of a bit of foreign currency'. The people's court sentences the politicians to 1,000 years.

So inflammatory were the lyrics that the record was banned on Jamaican national radio but remained top of the charts for months and was heard constantly on sound systems throughout the island. When I spoke to Mutabaruka he expressed his disappointment with politicians of all stripes. He also lamented the moral 'slackness' of the new dance-hall 'ragga' music, which, he said, had lost reggae's authentic political bite.

I hope Mutabaruka and Shanachie Records, New Jersey, are being handsomely rewarded for having had their satire transformed into a jingle for a crispy bar.

Yours faithfully,


Richmond, Surrey

15 April

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