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Brown narrows focus, Buju goes large

Published:Sunday | February 14, 2010 | 12:00 AM

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.

Brown sings:

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