Yasus Afari gets in your face


Yasus Afari gets in your face

Observer senior writer

Monday, March 16, 2020

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As a leader of roots-reggae's second coming during the 1990s, Yasus Afari is familiar with reviving cultural awareness.

In the last decade, he has helped rekindle interest in poetry. He continues that crusade with Dub Poetry — Inna Yuh Face, a compilation album released February 21 by Zojak World Wide and his SenYAcum label.

“The concept/idea within and which informs and inspires Dub Poetry — Inna Yuh Face is the awareness of the art form of dub as well as dub poetry and its historic significance and potency to Jamaica's cultural reality,” Afari told the Jamaica Observer.

“Therefore, it's not just about the album, Dub Poetry — Inna Yuh Face it is about the movement, the sense of social responsibility which comes with the awareness. So, we aim to saturate the place and space with Dub Poetry — Inna Yuh Face, literally and figuratively.”

The album, which will also be available on CD and vinyl, has 13 compositions by veteran and emerging poets. Afari accounts for three of those including Eye Feel It and Haad an' Tuff; there are pieces from Jean Binta Breeze ( Mad Woman Radio), Mutabaruka ( I Am De Man), Yaz Alexander and Benjamin Zephaniah (Pressure I), and Bleach And Tattoo by DYCR.

Professor Edward Baugh, one of the Caribbean's distinguished poets, represents with It Was The Singing, a poignant reflection on a Jamaican country funeral.

Afari has been at the forefront of a movement to resuscitate Jamaican poetry for over 20 years. In 2011, he launched the Jamaica Poetry Festival which showcases homegrown and overseas talent.

His other initiatives include Pomedy, a series of shows that mix poetry and comedy.

Releasing the work of poets through social media, he stated, is the most expansive way to expose them to an eclectic demographic.

“It's highly important for Dub Poetry and the dub poets/poets to be showcased in the digital format, as well as the entire spectrum of all the formats available at our disposal, as it is imperative to preserve this vital aspect of Jamaica's cultural heritage, especially for this contemporary age. The poet represents the voice and vision of the ancient future sage in this day and age,” he noted.

Born in St Elizabeth, Yasus Afari was influenced early on by folklorist Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley and the firebrand Linton Kwesi Johnson.

His career surged in the early 1990s as a member of the Christian Souljahs, a Rastafarian collective from central Jamaica that also included singer Garnet Silk and deejay Tony Rebel. They are usually credited for inspiring a return to conscious themes in dancehall music which had been dominated by a decade of violence and 'slack' content.

In addition to promoting events like the Jamaica Poetry Festival, he has released a number of albums through SenYAcum.

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