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Waiting for a different ology
Look how the sun now raising up
And the crowd now waking up
The atmosphere have vibes
And nutting can’t break it up
Differentology, Bunji Garlin
The biggest season of distraction is almost upon us. In the midst of the wining, at least we’ll have something to take our attention away from the big wine-and-jam sandwich the country is currently undergoing at the hands of the Government and the Opposition.
Town say Bunji’s Differentology is the tune to watch. And in the moments that I can stand the mind-numbing sub-literate drivel that passes for radio announcing, they play the same five or six tunes and Differentology is one of them. And I can say, yes; it’s a sweet tune in that innocuous, slightly saccharine kind of way we have become accustomed to.
It’s another in the line of easy, simplistic groovy soca offerings for us to chip happily down the road to. It’s nice, in that way that soca can be. Non-threatening and pleasant. It has none of the sexy aggression of his 2012 hit So and So; that was soca sidling up to dubstep and bussing a sweet wine.
When soca dares to do that, the world sits up and listens. But this Differentology, I’m not really sure what’s that different. And now more than ever we need some difference to break up the monotony of the sameness. There was a time when Bunji had the potential to be the new hope for soca.
Lyrically he could be a ticking time bomb. But perhaps product endorsements keep one on the safe side of political criticism. Some people say social commentary has no place in soca. It’s party music, and social commentary has no place in a fete.
But the comparative standard remains dancehall and in the 90s and even the noughties until now, amidst the bleached-out, blinged-up slackness there are glimmers of defiance when somebody dares to say something about Jamaica’s problematic socio-economic situation.
Music has always had more than one function. Music can be as multi-dimensional as you want it to be and the last thing we should be doing is limiting ourselves or worse, limiting our artists. But maybe we’re just too happy in Trinidad.
Everything is nice and we getting ready for the road. VAT gone on basic food items and in case you didn’t know Ambassador Neil Parsan informed us this week that Indians are the numerically and economically superior race of the Caribbean.
Everything is nice and if you go to MovieTowne you get treated to a ten-minute infomercial about something that seems like a done deal for the creative industries without any sort of consultation. Everything is nice and we getting ready for the road. So it’s okay for us to have more of the same. More of the same music. More of the same politics. More of the same voices telling us how wonderful and blessed we are.
Differentology is definitely what we need. A really different ology. We ready for the road, yes. But not to fete. We ready for the road to protest. We ready for the road to some actual political change. The capacity for templates is high in this country. The capacity for if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it is second nature.
We, all of us, need to throw away the templates that aren’t working and start again. I got in trouble with Bunji’s fans online the other day for suggesting that he was anything else besides the saviour of soca music. I think he could be.
And I not vex with him. Because like everybody else, he just trying to eat a food. He could put his wit and lyrical gunta-ness to mashing up all mocking pretenders fine like chilibibbi. He could make politicians and gangsters alike cringe with shame. He could santimanitay the country in five verses come up with on the spot. I’ve seen him do it at Soca Monarch with ease.
Bunji could pretty much do anything he pleases. But what Bunji is giving us right now is indifferentolgy and we love him for it. Differentology is a heavy burden for anyone to carry. Which is why I guess no one wants to carry it. No one wants to really be different in a town that revels so much in sameness that people take a loan to wear a tiny, sequinned uniform for two days.
Different indeed. So different, so special. Like the rest of us who decide to do the minimum requirements for work, for relationships, for driving. Don’t over-extend yourself too much. We like to stay in our corners and bat in our crease.
We could do a lot more. We could get ready for the road to change.
We need a different ecology. A different psychology. We need all kinah different ologies. Somebody has to dare to be different. You ready? I definitely ready. What will it take for the rest of the country to be ready?