STORY OF THE SONG: On his knees:Song on Jamaican history evokes intense emotions in Peter Metro and his audience
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
At Pepsi Rebel Salute earlier this month, deejay Peter Metro fell to his knees as he outlined Jamaican history in song to the large audience. The long lyrics were based on the national heroes and then expanded into significant dates, holding the audience's attention and then sending them into whoops of support and delight.
Part of the impression it made was due to the delivery The deejay, who became popular in the 1980s with songs including Nuh Put It Deh, Police Inna England and Cockney and Yardy (along with Dominic), sang with passion, his eyes closed and voice emotional as he went deeper into the long lyrics. The lyrics for the song are not new, but he tells The Sunday Gleaner that he still has to concentrate to get them right.
"We call it The History of Jamaica," Peter Metro said. It was recorded in the late 1980s at Channel One on Maxfield Avenue for the Black Solidarity label, co-owned by Tristan Palmer and Ossie. A collaborative effort, Metro said he would sit with fellow Metromedia deejay Zuzu, Ashman, Squidley Ranks and Sister K and write lyrics. They decided to write a song about Jamaican history, researched their topic and came up with the song, which begins:
"A seven hero fight fi free Jamaican
An' out of that seven one was a woman
That was style now this is fashion
Intelligent Peter Metro at the microphone stand."
After the heroes' lives are explored at length, he goes on to name significant events by year, beginning with "inna 1494 Columbus discover the land/1655 them take us to England" and it continues to Independence. He estimates that it is some four to five minutes long - which leads to him going on his knees when he deejays The History of Jamaica live.
"Is because the lyrics is long and to actually concentrate on what I am about to say I have to close my eyes and go on my knees," he told The Sunday Gleaner. He said that if he stands up and jumps around "I feel I might miss a line, but when I go on my knee everything come. Mi jus' go down on my knee and lock me eye".
live version most effective
Still, Metro said, there is a part that he does not deejay but still has written down, which speaks to when places like the Ward Theatre, National Stadium and National Arena were built.
He said that without the support of a big label, the recorded version of The History of Jamaica would not make much impact and, seeing how the audience responds when he does it live, many people have suggested to Metro that he record it again. However, although "many a time I think of doing it over", he said he believes there is some value in it being a live treat.
"To me, leaving it this way, it is more powerful. It have more impact on the audience than if they hear it every day on the radio," Metro said.