Brown narrows focus, Buju goes large
Dennis Brown's The Promised Land and Buju Banton's Till I'm Laid To Rest present differing takes on the recurrent Africa theme in reggae. While Brown details his trip to a single country, Ethiopia, Buju Banton looks at several countries on the continent.
It is similar to one photographer narrowing his or her focus to a single flower, while another chooses to portray the entire garden.
Make a step down to Asmara
Then we stopped in Addis Ababa
Made our way to Shasamane Land
Riding on the King's Highway ...
In another verse he does mention other countries as he again returns to the famous roadway, but Ethiopia
is still in focus as Brown sings:
Said we're riding on the King's Highway to Kenya
From Cairo to Kenya
Made a stop in Asmaras
Then we made another one in Addis Ababa ...
On the other hand, on Til I'm Laid To Rest, from his 1995 Til Shiloh album, Buju goes through a number of African countries. Those include Ethiopia, but without Brown's intensely personal touch. Buju sings the chorus:
'Til I'm laid to rest
Always be depressed
There's no life in the West
I know the East is the best
All the propaganda they spread
Tongues will have to confess ...
He makes his way to the continent lyrically with:
... One and all let us trod the promised land
Buju go down a Congo
Stop inna Shashamane Land
The city of Harare is where Selassie come from
In Addis Ababa then Botswana
Lef' Kenya end up in a Ghana
Oh what a beauty my eyesight behold
Holy Ethiopia protect me from the cold ...
The second approach, the overview of the continent, is the lyrical approach to reggae more regularly used in the genre.
- Mel Cooke