Spragga displays lyrical prowess
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
The wait for Spragga Benz to perform at the Village Blues Bar, Liguanea, St Andrew, on Sunday night seemed interminable. But when he finally started deejaying half an hour into Monday morning, there was considerable compensation for lost time in sheer brilliant lyrical content he dished out in about 90 minutes.
However, the turnout was considerably below what would be considered a substantial audience in the second instalment of the venue's single-artiste performance every last Sunday of the month.
Listening to Spragga Benz' recordings is one thing and, while doing cuts from his latest album Shotta Culture, Spragga did point out that a lot of his more recent music is not played on radio and he refuses to pay disc jocks to do so. But the live experience, where at points he deejayed without music, allowed for outstanding lines to stand out.
And, in the already popular songs such as Peace, Dolly House, Backshot, Star and Do it and Done (in which the imagery of "move to a gal wid all yu lass inna yu 'Gleana'" hit the audience), but the proof of Spragga's lyrical strength lay in how unaccustomed lyrics slapped the sweet spot. Ranked high among those was when Spragga deejayed some fresh lyrics for the ladies observing a rival's dress code. When he deejayed "yu dress up inna Cooyah/dem dress up inna Coo Deh" the ladies hooted their appreciation and Spragga made a rare restart.
There was the smartness of badness ("smart gunman nuh make police know him"), the irony of incarceration ("Daddy and son go jail go meet"), analysis of the society ("di system a suck we een like a suction/them into population reduction") and the instructions on how to romance a woman ("I like your sense of fashion from Milan to New York").
Spragga started out with his early dancehall years and was soon into matters of the female flesh. "I see a ting inna de newspaper that Spragga going to sing conscious songs. I never write that. I will sing conscious songs, but I will sing every kind of song because I am every kind of artiste," he said.
His expression changed dramatically depending on the type of material he was delivering. So after the fun of the opening run, which included Backshot, Spragga's broad grin narrowed and he spoke to the moment when he changed his approach to music. He said he realised he could not focus on the girls alone as "too much a me bredren a lose dem life. Mi haffi open up dem eyes to what a gwaan a street". The first song he did in that vein was No Fun Ting, which advises "take me advice me bredren/rude bwoy living a no fun ting/yu nah no time fe a laugh an a grin ... ".
And Spragga Benz was especially impassioned when he spoke about his son Carlyle, who was killed by the police. "No matter weh mi deh in de worl' from August 2008 me haffi big up Carlyle," he said. "Is like him a travel with mi. Who understand weh mi a say understand weh mi a say."
As he deejayed "somehow I knew I would see that day", eyes closed and head back, the audience cheered and the rhythm was restarted. "Me no want no forward," Spragga said.
He gave a humorous explanation of why he embraced Rastafari, expressed unwavering support for Buju Banton and emphasised unity among Jamaicans in the face of pressure. And Spragga lyrically declared his place in the music business, saying "dem caan keep me outta de business when every door lock".
It was back to the fun at the end of the night, as Spragga deejayed Mavado's Pon Di Gullyside, declaring "a my song dat. Mi love music jus' like oonu".
And he smiled as he said "Mi know onnu nah expect mi fe like da one ya" and dipped into a Vybz Kartel lyric.