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Annual Ragga Muffins Festival in Oakland

on February 18, 2009

Ragga Muffins – Stephen Marley, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Julian Marley
Fox Theater – Oakland
Oakland, CA
Fri, Feb 20, 2009 07:00 PM (

“God is black, if not just look at your shadow. Jah bless,” usually says Lee “Scratch” Perry while walking into the stage. The 72-year-old, Jamaican born, reggae-dub shaman will bring his delayed madness to this year’s Annual Ragga Muffins Festival this coming Friday, February 20th.

He supervised some of the most memorable Bob Nesta’s sessions with The Wailers; he also crafted The Clash’s sound into a much more rotund sonic dough. Listening to his music is like swimming in a pool filled with something very glutinous. Multi dimensional sound, perhaps..

Perry was “the Jamaican answer to Phil Spector or Joe Meek,” and his Black Ark studios were a necessary stop in Jamaica’s prime music exporting period, back in the seventies. But he burned the studio down, that was probably the end of the experimentation era that overdubbed layers of sound into what today is understood as dub music. And it all occurred to this guy.

Well, it was either him or Osbourne Ruddock, a.k.a. King Tubby, but who cares..

Along with Lee Perry and Stephen and Julian, two very active members of the Marley dynasty, the Festival will also host the Rootz Underground, the roots-reggae act from Kingston, Jamaica known for spraying with rock their deep rooted reggae lines. After Movement, released a year ago, reviews are still lionizing them.

And as a starter, opening a night that will surely be very cold, the Somalia-raised, Canada-based poet and rapper K’naan will be probably performing Troubadour, his next week release..

K’naan is an extremely talented storyteller, a verbal cavalier. He flew out of his native country when he was 13, escaping a ravaging civil war that turned into mayhem. Oakland claims to have tough neighborhoods, but U.N. military forces have never assisted our lovely Oak-town streets to keep order. In the place where Kanaan Warsame was born, Mogadishu City (..remember the movie Blackhawk Down?) , this happened in the early nineties.

Perfect times for his reality-built, sweet rapped, hardcore narratives. Like in ‘What’s hardcore?,’ one of the slickest tracks in The Dusty Foot Philosopher, his amazing 2005 debut, where he says:

it’s hard, harder than Harlem and Compton intertwined
harder than harbouring Bin laden in rewind/
we begin our day by the way of the gun
rocket propelled grenades blow you away if you front/
we got no police, ambulance or firefighters
we start riots by burning car tires
they looting, and everybody start shooting

And the well crafted, cocky rhyme:

ima spit these verses cuz I feel annoyed
and I’m not gonna quit, til I fill the void/
if I rhyme about home, i got descriptive
and I make 50 cent look like Limp Bizkit/
it’s true, and dont make me rhyme about you
i’m from where the kids are addicted to glue

Very nice.

A direct witness to a super brutal reality of our generation, and he happens to have enough graphics in his rhymes to actually portray it, maybe even infect it. bring your correspondent ammo and have a nice punky reggae night!

see you there, cd


  1. Lola on February 24, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    The show was soooooooooooooooooooo good!

    Right on for giving K’naan an honorable mention!

    Caught the Long Beach show as well…they didn’t seem to understand his style but, their loss…he rocked it as always!

    He is one of the most talented artists around and soon enough more folks will catch on!

    Peace =0)

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