Fri | Apr 28, 2017

'Visit of the King' details royal arrival

Published:Friday | April 21, 2017 | 4:00 AM

Early B, the late standout on Kilamanjario sound system and whose One Wheel Wheelie is an early 1980s hit record, put the Haile Selassie's April 21, 1966, arrival in Jamaica into the dancehall record. He starts Visit of the King with speech, placing himself in the historic occasion as a child ("Well, I've seen many world leaders, many heads of state, but none of them impress me like when I was youth, 'bout six, seven, eight when King Selassie I visit, 1966 ...").

Deejaying on the Midnight Rock rhythm, associated with Jah Thomas, Early B details the occasion, a high point for those not in officialdom:

"It was the year 1966

When Selassie I made a visit

Mi seh Rasta make de wicked

dem look like rubbish"

He sums up the crowd ("Thousan' of people Jah know de crowd thick"), the weather ("It was good weather but the rain did a drip") and an open use of the sacrament ("Mi seh every dreadlock a burn up a spliff"). The detailing is exquisite, from the rain stopping and a rainbow coming to a flock of birds on the plane's wing. The King emerges ("Selassie come out wid him lian pon him stick") and, after describing his outfit and height ("about four foot six"), Early B notes the overturning of the social order:

"Babylon dem have to run

Them couldn't stan it

Because the airport come in like Rasta district"

The song continues with Selassie's address at the National Stadium, then wryly notes how it was back to business as usual after Selassie left:

"When Selassie I come

The herb did bun

But now him gone home

Dem a run we dung."