Pupa Curly gives musical lessons


Pupa Curly gives musical lessons

Observer senior writer

Saturday, December 05, 2020

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FROM the beginning of his career in the 1980s, Pupa Curly has considered himself an educator rather than an entertainer. Hence Griot, the title of his new album.

Released in November, the 15-song set is available through Tuff Kruffy Entertainment in association with Gorilla Status Records. It is a nod to West African storytellers.

Born in Belize, Pupa Curly has lived in Los Angeles for over 35 years. Griot hears him tackling a range of social issues.

“From the early days of Crack is A Killa and Dem Say Dem Free Mandela, I've been given the title 'Pupa the Teacher'. It is in this mould that I present the ideas that inspire me. I've always believed that my job is to retell important world or social events through my music,” he said. “For example, on Griot you'll find tracks like Can't Breathe, Watch Whe Yo Post, Money, Back in Love, She Was Sixteen and others. As a matter of fact, the latest single, Gone Away, is in this mould.”

Several of the songs on Griot were inspired by events that shook the world in 2020. Can't Breathe was sparked by outrage over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was suffocated when a white police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, in Minneapolis in May.

Pupa Curly is from Belize City. He got into music listening to his mother's American country and western and rhythm and blues collection, but by his teens discovered reggae through Bob Marley, Yellowman and General Echo.

Moving to Southern California, he established himself as an artiste with songs like Crack is A Killa about the crack epidemic that emerged in urban America during the 1980s. He also promoted the Caribbean Seabreeze Festival and Irie Reggae Festival.

He has seen the evolution of the region's reggae scene.

“I've been living in California for about four decades. I've watched the reggae scene grow from a handful of live bands in the 80s and 90s to an explosion of literally hundreds of artistes and bands from south in San Diego to the north in Humboldt County. I've also observed a major demographic shift in the membership of many of the live bands,” he noted. “This trend is the same in reference to live concerts. Today, many of the black promoters have made way for, or have been co-opted by white promoters and/or venues who host their own reggae events.”

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