Different but powerful
You don't need to be conventional to be heard. Art can change a nation's course. These were the ideas present at ManifestoJA's bi-weekly event, ART'ical Exposure.
Last Friday's staging of the event at Bookophilia, Hope Road, with the theme 'Roots Rock', sought to expose talent ManifestoJA discovered through its community activities.
Mixed in with this was the appearance of rising poster boy of uptown dub/roots/reggae, Protoje and powerful female performer Jah9.
A larger crowd than the first staging showed up with the few chairs at the front occupied and people standing to the back filling out the rest of the venue.
The show got off to an intense, quasi-spiritual start when Mama G, a diminutive barefooted Rastafarian, performed extensive libations which included asking for blessings, sprinkling cornmeal in the venue and passing around a "blessed" coconut.
Yuri Stewart, young, vibrant and militant, proceeded to protest about how crime was taking over. "Crime a get out a hand," he said. "It nuh right, round after round inna August Town, five dead inna Spanish Town."
Gavin 'Dutty' Hutchinson also stirred thoughts by saying "Whoever has the most money is the most powerful and whoever has the most money is the most greedy".
Terry Ann Miller, with some usual themes for her poem, had ears "perking" in attention. She spoke of phases of pregnancy: the intimacy of the moment, the reality of the aftermath. She also shared a piece in which she expressed how, like the society, she was "sick and tired" of Manatt, a "bag of talk", and petrol cess collected for the repair of roads not being used properly.
With the overall theme of the night dedicated to the "roots", Lone Soldier and Mystique illustrated that Jamaica's youth were not all about notions of being disconnected from reality. The brother-and-sister duo from Elleston Flats, in a song titled State of Emergency, told of cops being killed and people dying.
The duo impressed the crowd with their vocals and their meaningful lyrics.
Other performers, strong in their own right, appeared with some overstaying their welcome. The two headliners for the night gave the show a strong closing. Janine 'Jah9' Cunningham with her strong vocals and poetic delivery already had the crowd giving cat calls. She complemented this by asking visual artist Kimani Beckford to draw on a blank canvas his interpretation of her song, Warning. The result pleased the crowd.
Protoje, who is known for his songs Arguments, Dread and Ja, gave the audience material from his upcoming album, The Seven Year Itch.