Mon | Dec 4, 2023

STORY OF THE SONG: 'Cockney and Yardie' combines foreign speech

Published:Sunday | April 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Peter Metro

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Officially, Jamaica and England share the same language. In reality, variations of the 'Queen's English' hold sway in both countries, putting the speakers even further apart in verbal communication than the difficulties often posed by accent and enunciation.

In 1987, Jamaican deejay Peter Metro and Englishman Dominick combined foreign speech, Dominick deejaying in 'cockney' and Metro in 'yardie' to good effect, going into the single digits on the charts. Peter Metro told The Sunday Gleaner that Cockney and Yardie was done for producer Donovan Germaine, the song recorded at Tuff Gong, Marcus Garvey Drive, St Andrew.

"We just went down there and heard the rhythm, Germaine play it. Me and Dominick kick back for about half-hour and record the song," he said. It was a matter of working out the lyrics on the rhythm, as they had been performing it on Metromedia sound system. "Dominick used to work with Metromedia. At the time me and Dominick did a spar. Remember a me bring him come Jamaica," Peter Metro said.

Strong impact

So Cockney and Yardie had a strong impact even before it was recorded, Metro saying that "place mash up every time. Remember is a black man and a white man. Murder! Murder!".

The combination of races is emphasised in the chorus:

"Listen the yardie, listen the cockney

Listen the blackie, listen the whitey

Listen the yardie, listen the cockney

Listen Dominick and Metro Peter"

The 'every time' was often in 1987, Metro saying "sometimes we work four nights a week, sometimes five". With Metromedia being very popular the sound system would play every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, plus there was the weekly Wednesday night sessions at the 1 Moore Street, Woodford Park, headquarters.

Cockney and Yardie is a straight-out translation song, explaining the meaning of particular words to the listener. Metro's favourite lines come at the start, when he deejays "Patois is a language from a Jamaican/But inna Englan' them talk in a different fashion/listen Dominick as the true white man".

And his least favourite, which he wished were not on the recording, is when he remarks on Dominick's appearance with "Lawd massa, a which part a farrin yu come from sah? A mus up inna Englan' or some part inna America! Him yeye dem blue eh? Look pon de white man!".

"Me a tell the engineer take it out, but them say it sound good so it mus' stay," Metro lamented.

Then he deejays some of Dominick's lines, without the accent, to which the translation is provided:

"Mickey Mouse, that a house ...

Baked beans, that a jeans ...

Dog and bone, that a wha, telephone"

"Him is the first white man deejay that start deejay out of Jamaica. Him was the first white man (deejay) leave farrin come live inna Jamaica," Metro said.

It was not their only popular record together, as they also did Ol' Lady, dedicated to their mothers.