June 2, 2008

"Luv Dub Fever": Review by Mervyn Morris

MalachiMalachi Smith was one of the founders of Poets in Unity, a dub poetry group formed in 1979 at the Jamaica School of Drama. He was the group’s most compelling presenter (and, as a policeman/peacemaker writing poems, the most newsworthy). Migrating to Miami in 1987, he has continued being both a policeman and a dub poet, earning the 2003 International Dub Poet of the Year Award in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and in 2007 a Master’s degree in Criminology from Florida International University. “I can never be silent when I see injustice,” he has said. “We are all part of the system.” Social justice and black self-realization are predominant concerns on his earlier CDs, Throw Two Punch (1998) and Middle Passage (2003).

Love Dub Fever
has a different emphasis: it is focused mainly on love and sex, as projected by a confident man. “She walked into my dream / Stripping de clothes from my iyes...” Lyrics! Many of the pieces praise the beauty and sexual prowess of black women and proclaim a male persona ready to meet the challenge. “Five times for one night / And every drop of de hammer was right.” The woman is a Nubian princess, or a Sheba, or Cleopatra. “She sugar up mi coffee / She sugar up mi tea / Har honey and spice / Ah trickle all over me.” The man—“Mister lover man”—is usually a Casanova, a freelance expert willing to assist. “When de luv is not enuff / I have an extension / Jus reach out / An is instant gratification...” One piece, however, warns against the lying seducer, “Mout sweet like sugar full ah samfie,” and another acknowledges that a woman also might deceive (pretending, for instance, that she has no husband). “Jezebel, Delilah, why did you / Why did you lie to me?” If a poem seems briefly to assert a man’s commitment to family—“my queen and two prince”—it very soon notes “there are times when home life gets you down / Soh yuh tek to de street / And rock to de beat / Yuh tek chance / An thief likkle romance...” On the other hand “Driver” respectfully acknowledges a mother’s burden, “dawters and sons / whole heap a dem / generations top of generations / dem heavy...”

Malachi’s performance is strong and subtle. His speaking voice—his chanting on most tracks—plays comfortably against the various music rhythms and the discreetly enhancing background singers. This is his best CD.

Mervyn Morris

March 2008


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