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Observer writer


MUTABARUKA was critical of Jamaica’s music at the listening party of roots singer Mark Wonder’s Dragon Slayer album recently.



The occasion was held at the St Andrew residence of musician Earl “Chinna” Smith.

While acknowledging the emergence of a new generation of roots-reggae artists, the Rastafari poet/broadcaster bemoaned what he deemed as a watering down of its potency, which has created a void filled by the dominance of dancehall. It was from that perspective he saw it fit to endorse Mark Wonder’s latest project.

“Mi glad sey we have ones and ones who still a maintain that Rasta vibes inna di music, because it really gone, yuh kno. Whether you waan accept it or not, most Rasta nah mek music wid Rasta inna it again, because the system kinda have it a way weh is dancehall run things right now. It kinda mek me upset, after all a dem man deh come — Bob Marley, Burning Spear — this is weh we have now fi show fi it. Is like dem [man deh] never come. You have some yute a hail up Rastafari inna di music still, but there is something about the potency of it that still nuh grab mi sometimes.

Mark Wonder

Mark Wonder

“Rastafari spread the music all over the world, singing some spiritual things… You have dancehall culture now a override weh di elders dem do… and the music just continue downward. The music is taking a downward turn. Dancehall music is not something to uphold and maintain, it is totally opposite. A culture wi a work with and is like we a move from that. Rastafari is a Black Power movement….is like we a move from dat. Mark Wonder, mi love yuh offerings,” said Mutabaruka.

Released June 12, the 12-track Dragon Slayer is produced on the French Irie Ites Records label.

Author Barbara Blake-Hannah, in her endorsement of Mark Wonder and his Dragon Slayer set, also established the nexus between the Rastafari culture and the potency of reggae music.

“In the beginning is the word JAH, in the beginning was the word Hail JAH — one of my favorite songs of the man of the moment, Mark Wonder…The beginning that I should speak of tonight is the beginning of the music… I became part of the reggae generation from early into the 70s until now… and for all that reggae has become, the strongest and most enduring is the message that it took to the world, the Rasta message, the message of a new form of godliness… Marcus Garvey, who taught us of seeing the God within ourselves. The music that came out took that message to us and to the world, making musical waves around the world. We have been doing very well in taking that message to the world, of all nations, languages, people; the musical message we were empowered with. The music has taken us to the world. Mark Wonder is one of those wonderful angels who has been given the job to carry that message… His message is so pure. He has been making music from the early 90s, and here he is now with his ninth album that is really wonderful. It shows that he has been blessed and that God is pleased with the work that he has been doing.”

Barbara Blake Hannah

Barbara Blake Hannah

Selector Gabre Selassie also noted that Mark Wonder has always been singing about Rasta and spiritual militancy.

“Mark Wonder music has never failed I and I in terms of filling up I and I musical up. So we have been watching him develop, we have been watching him grow. It has been ‘up-full’, and I never stop listening to his music. I like the way the I keep it real, so just keep the fire blazing and don’t watch nuh face. Keep your humbleness, keep the militancy.”

Not a man of many words, Mark Wonder (given name Mark Andrew Thompson) told the Jamaica Observer: “This is my ninth album and it speaks for itself, it thunder able, spiritual uprising, social commentary and positive vibrations. Is a mystical vibes that’s why we sey Mark Wonder — keeping it roots and cultural.”

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