Wed | Sep 27, 2023

Story of the song | Performers’ roots in the music

Published:Friday | July 8, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Queen Ifrica
Tanya Stephens

It is normal - and even expected - for singers, deejays and poets to include their places of origin in their lyrics, as those early and enduring memories are part and parcel of their artistic development. There are those Jamaican performers who go a step further and identify their place of birth outright as part of their claim to an identity.

Among them are two persons from St Mary, Capleton and Tanya Stephens. On August 5, the 2016 staging of Capleton's event, A St Mary Mi Come From, will be held at the Gray's Inn complex in Annotto Bay, St Mary. An event which has helped raise funds for various projects in the parish, including health and education, the name is taken from More Prophet. One of the deejay's popular singles, it is a song about his identity and beliefs. He deejays:

"Dem should a know a St Mary mi come from

Shoulda know mi grow up a Islington...

Dem shoulda know a St Mary mi come from

Dem shoulda know dat nex' door to Portland"

In the autobiographical, Who Is Tanya? from her Rebolution album, Stephens also reveals her St Mary origins.

"Dis a de gal whe neva back dung yet

From Richmond,

Bet you never heard of that town yet

St Mary, yeah dat a whe me background set"

The title track of Queen Ifrica's album, Montego Bay, is Welcome to Montego Bay. Before identifying the social ills of the tourism hub, she states her right to be an authority on the matter:

"In the west of my island is a parish I know

I am the one to tell you cause that's where I grow

Nuff money deh deh but it jus' nah show

Tourism a flourish while de ghetto dem a perish, no no

Free up de ting yeah gi we more pon more

Granville to Tucker no lef out Pitfour

Sam Sharpe Square nah deal wid fear

So rebel we a rebel til we draw new gear

A near Westmoreland dat

Welcome to Montego Bay"

Chronixx has more than one take on his birthplace. In Spanish Town Rocking (set to the rhythm Barrington Levy did - Prison Oval Rock (which is about a dance at the sports ground outside the prison) on, Chronixx sings and deejays:

I grew up in a place called De La Vega

Spanish Town rocking

Over Prison Oval

I grew up in a place called Ensom City

Spanish Town groovy....

Hail Jah man

Spanish Town a whe me come from

From yu look inna me face yu see a De La Vegan"

Then, in Like a Whistle, from the Dread and Terrible EP, Chronixx restates his roots in the old capital, in response to a journalist:

"Inna interview dem ask nuff question

Dem waan know whe me born an whe me come from

Tell dem, De La Vega same time

Desso me born right pon de train line..."

It is not only the human beings who have claims to places on record. With sound systems being characters, with personalities which go beyond collections of sound-amplification equipment and music recordings, they literally become people. So, for Keith Walford's sound system, Buju Banton deejays:


Dis is de great Bass Odyssey outta Alexandria

Inna de hills a St Ann whe de yute dem plant de ganja

Big up Madras an roun' a Endeavour

We touch a Nine Mile dancehall tun ova..."

Not to be left out are the well-known images to Trench Town by Bob Marley.