4 comments on “Sizzla, Community Values, and the Mateel

  1. I like some reggae, when Hugo hit Jamaica I volunteered to help sort & pack all the donations (several plane loads) and met various Jamaicans and some rastas. I was there to work, not socialize so I saw a lot of stuff going on. I saw a lot of hate against some white guys who came to help, genuine and unassuming. Their van was trashed, they were beat up and no apologies from any of the organizers of the charity effort. Burned me
    out right then.
    I went to an event at USC and coming out heard some music in one of the quads. Turned out to be a Yellowman concert. He seemed to have a thing about women who don’t want men. I wondered how it was a student event at a big name university would have such a vocal homophobe not just appearing there but voicing his beliefs.
    I went to Ras Michael concerts because I like the drumming. His songs had little or nothing to do with sex, his or anyone elses and that was a welcome change.
    There’s not a lot of events in LA now; no clubs, the record store I liked closed, the reggae boat trips don’t seem to be happening. I don’t know if there’s good new music out there because the last time I checked it didn’t seem to be renewing itself. Yeah, there’s the big names who play the big events but those remind me of the PBS type reunions of groups that don’t have most of the original members.
    There are older performers who still show up (and on time, unlike some acts) and put on a good show. They don’t rest on their laurels and half their act isn’t sing along.
    I remember the line from Rick Nelson’s Garden Party: If memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck.
    But since the fickle public often insists on the memories (not buying the new albums even when they’re damn good) and having been a big name doesn’t mean you had a brain enough to make sure you’d have some money when no one knew your name anymore. So I can understand why people keep at it when what made them good, that spark, is gone.
    And I know that there is always a market for music that brings out the bad in people.
    I’m not afraid of the music of generations after me. I may not like all of it but I can see where it comes from and the needs it answers. I keep looking for people out there doing what they have to do–for creative purposes, not for ego-feeding and when I find someone, I’ll support them, even buy an album when funds allow.
    I came of age in SF in the 60s (before the Haight and the dancehalls) and I know what music means and how we need it, each of us and each group of us and each generation but we also have a responsibility to nurture it as it has nurtured us so that it stays creative and doesn’t fall into the abyss of put out a strong beat and throw strong words at people and tell them if they don’t listen, if they don’t like it then they ______(fill in the blank).
    When I hear anger and hate in music, if there’s no reaching for truth within the song, if there’s only anger and no expression of real sorrow or suffering, then I feel that the negativity comes from fear.
    A man secure in his manhood isn’t threatened by gays or lesbians or friendly goats who just want to be left alone to live their own lives.

    So in following the Sizzla kerfuffle in the various Northcoast media I wondered how the booking people could listen to his music and not say “this rasta is one messed up mf”. A hard-core preacher gets up in his pulpit and say the floods in New Orleans are God’s punishment for the gays. Freedom of religion. (and how many people quietly smiled when that preacher’s church got flooded…). But to know someone preaches a message of hate and division and still bring them into your community?
    I wonder how many people actually knew that much about all the acts. I think it was more a party atmosphere and a chance to be around actual rastas.

    Of course the people who put the event on don’t have the time or money to explore other approaches. I lived in Willow Creek and was involved in two groups (nonprofit) who had events to raise money to benefit the community. It was a real problem to come up with fund raisers that didn’t compete or copy what someone else was doing, that didn’t take a big investment but stood a chance of making money, not losing it. That didn’t require more manpower that what was available. But we kept at it. There’s a public part in Willow Creek that shows we found things that worked.

    And so can Mateel. They have industry contacts, they can talk with people who are successful.
    I’d say: “Reach out.. Weed out the do-nothings who have little to offer but unworkable ideas. Don’t involve people who have proven records of not being reliable. Don’t expect people who have helped before
    to be there again unless you’ve given them a good reason to do so.
    Don’t ever be afraid to say no. No to the community, no to friends, no to yourself. If you’ve given it your best then don’t let anyone guilt you into
    trying to do it again. A magic word, “no”. And a semi-magical statement:
    “If you think you can do it, or do better then have at it. I’ll applaud when you succeed”. And then walk away. and may make plans to be out of town when the event happens. With no cell phone.”
    You deserve a vacation for all that.

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