From ‘Fatty Fatty’ to ‘fluffy’

From ‘Fatty Fatty’ to ‘fluffy’

Left: Leroy Sibbles Right: Elephant Man says that stars need to educate themselves on how to manage their money. – File photos

When I was watching the women especially react to Leroy Sibbles singing Fatty Fatty at Wednesday evening’s ‘Get Ready to Rocksteady’ at the National Indoor Sports Centre, I was reminded that while the era and the form of expression may change, the basics remain the same.After all, there may not have been many people rocking steady that night who were thinking of Miss Kitty, the ‘Fluffy Diva’, as they grooved to a piece of Jamaican music history. But the celebration of a generously proportioned woman (go large, shall we say?) is the same, whether it is expressed in a song that is now firmly etched in the annals of Jamaican music or by a young woman who is as comfortable in media as she is on the stage of a major concert.

In looking back at the supposedly ‘good old days’ we often sanitise what was then a daring expression (c’mon, when Marley said “I feel like bombing a church, now that I know the preacher is lying” it must have hit like a mortar), or fail to make the thematic connections.

So when Pluto Shervington says “curry goat lunch put de bite in yu bark/it mek yu daughta walk an’ talk” it is the same thing as when Elephant Man says “bad man dweet hard, mek she go road go brag“. They are two genres and two entertainers positioned in two separate spheres in the music-consuming public’s conscious-ness, but the theme is the same. When man put it on good, the lady spreads the word around the neighbourhood.

(Of course, when he flops the bad word does get around quickly enough too.)

I think those who criticise dancehall extensively should take a look at these thematic connections and I am sure that there are several more that I am not even aware of. They also need to realise that while dancehall is ‘in your face’ the world has changed since the beginning of the Jamaican recorded music industry. You cannot expect people influenced by the Internet and hundreds of channels of cable television to express themselves the same way as those who had one black and white television station to tune in to.

You cannot expect the generation which saw the flag rise over an independent Jamaica to have the same expression as those who have lived through the fallout of partisan politics. You cannot expect those who lived in an era when the ratchet was the ultimate weapon to have the same attitudes and expressions as those who live with the chatter of the guns which pour into the country.

And it goes on.

The themes are, I suspect, consistent. It is the words that get us.


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