Sizzla says Africa... In explosive up close Village Blues Bar performance
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Speculation had been rife about Rastafarian deejay Miguel 'Sizzla Kolonji' Collins' decision to go on an extended Africa trip early last year, The STAR picking up on a report in May that Sizzla said he was in Zimbabwe to stay.
He told Zimbabwe's Sunday Mail newspaper that "Zimbabwe is home. I have received tremendous welcome. In Zimbabwe, we have already started recording. I am also looking into areas Judgement Yard can invest in for the upliftment of Zimbabwean youths."
In a previous interview with THE STAR Sizzla's publicist Olimatta Taal dismissed reports in another newspaper that Sizzla had fled Jamaica because of gun and murder-related charges. She said that Sizzla was given land for his two performances in Zimbabwe for the country's 30th independence celebration, compensation that was unrelated to politics.
And on Sunday night, before a jam-packed (uncomfortably so) Village Blues Bar at Barbican Road, St Andrew, Sizzla was unequivocal in his stance on repatriation, speaking passionately about the continent in-between some songs for his blistering first-hour set.
Performing sound-system style to superb mixing from Caveman selectors, Sizzla set a blistering pace from the get-go with his bestowal of "love and honour", black vest fully buttoned, necktie firmly in place and black turban pointing skyward.
Varying the length of the songs he performed, earlier cuts Holding Firm, Guide Over Us and Good Ways done to their second verses for a full-fledged singalong, then Dem a Wonder and Make it Secure among those sliced in the later going. Sizzla was in very good nick before an audience which roared approval repeatedly.
Before doing White God, the 1995 track which signified his religious stance and imprinted his name on the dancehall community, Sizzla said, "Do you remember this song? This is one of the first people hear from Sizzla. Sizzla got his recognition through this song."
They remembered, word for word.
Sizzla sang Jah Cure's part of Kings in This Jungle but did not deejay his section. But Sizzla was not only in a singing mood, reserving some between song talk for the mid to later stages of his first hour. He reminded all about His Imperial Majesty's 1966 visit to Jamaica and his royal lineage.
"That's why me go Zimbabwe and same way me go Senegal, Gambia. All these places are there for you. Zimbabwe have one of the largest deposit of diamonds," Sizzla said.
He spoke about learning Amharic, Geez and Hebrew, saying, "If you have big university and you can teach French and Spanish, then you can teach the African language."
He reiterated Africa for the Africans and declared "a fia me bun" before doing Simplicity, one of the numbers which brought the house down.
Sizzla said that the Ten Commandments are read every Saturday at Bobo Hill and while the necktie is "for parties like these, when we going to praise Jah is your turban and your robe".
He compared that dressing to the pastor's, who wears a necktie to service, and the image of Christ's crucifixion, where he is depicted wearing a robe but no turban.
There were songs for the ladies, Sizzla declaring, "Me nah big up no bway weh a breed up de gal an' no waan take care a dem pickney. If him nah take care a de pickney, no gi him no nookie!"
He honoured Buju Banton, leading the very willing audience in a response of "free Buju now" to his lines "me no love how the Babylon a gwaan/'low the Rastaman make him go mash up the lawn."
The uptempo Taking Over and Karate had the audience bouncing en masse, Sizzla continuing Just One of Those Days after the rhythm finished, eyes closed in concentration and emotion etched into his features. And he closed the hour with Get to the Point, the 'hey, hey, hey' refrain howled by members of the audience.
Thank You Mama was one of the overwhelming hits with the audience on a hit-laden night, Sizzla doing a Thank You Puppa version. Sizzla's first hour was even more remarkable when one considered the popular songs that he had not yet done, among them One Away, Homeless, No Time to Gaze, Rise to the Occasion and One Away.
The Village Blues Bar's Steve Billings explained to the audience that the Sizzla concert is the first in a 12-part series with a "big artiste", the performances slated for the third Sunday of each month.