Tue | Oct 19, 2021

Repetition, rhythm used extensively

Published:Tuesday | October 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Poet Malachi Smith delivers the 13 tracks on Wiseman with unmistakable conviction, from the opening juxtaposition of Jamaica's often contradictory characteristics in Yard, to the up-tempo benediction of Blessed.

Throughout the set, he utilises the dub poet's tool of rhythm to good effect as well he should, after being a part of founding Poets in Unity, at the now Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in the 1970s.

This is especially so on Rescue Me, for instance, the tale of Smith being a wallflower at a party until a lady takes him onto the dance floor, Malachi almost singing the chorus.

However, while the verbal rhythm works well, the repetition in Yard and Bills may be too much for some.

To hear them live once would be a different experience from having a recording where they are played repeatedly, and while appreciating the sentiments, I found the repeated 'yard is' and 'bills' (and even the title word in Mad Man), eventually wore thin.

On the other hand, otherwise Smith's storytelling approach means that he presents a good tale to follow easily, with rhymes that are sometimes predictable, but go over with a focus on the story rather than showing off the vocabulary. Sticky Situation, focuses on an occurrence of just that and not to be left out is the immigrant's experience of global changes which will inevitably impact on the vulnerable, as in Brexit.

As a topic, music is a significant part of Wiseman, with three tracks early in the set Rescue Me, Can't Stop the Dance and Dance Nice addressing it squarely.

Listeners will find some of the music tracks familiar as they come from well-known Jamaican popular music songs, so it is no surprise to find names like Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Jackie Mittoo, Lloyd Lovindeer, Carl Dawkins and Jackie Opel among the credits of a set that pulls together words and music in dub

poetry's unique long-standing fashion.


Track listing:

1) Yard

2) Rescue Me

3) Concrete Rose

4) Break Away

5) Can't Stop the Dance

6) Dance Nice

7) Mad Man

8) Skylarking

9) Bills

10) Sticky Situation

11) Brexit

12) Return My Sunday

13) Blessed

- M.C.