Dub Poetry in and from Jamaica

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  • Topic: Jamaica, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Reggae
  • Pages : 26 (9907 words )
  • Download(s) : 3024
  • Published : June 9, 2008
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Table of Contents

1 Introduction2
2 History and Development of Dub Poetry3
2.1 The Development of Jamaican Creole – Short Overview3
2.2 The Oral Tradition4
2.3 From the B-side of a Record via “Toasting” to Dub Poetry6 3 The Correlation of the Rastafarians, Reggae and Dub9
3.1 The Rastafarians9
3.2 The Peculiarity of Dub10
3.3 Artists and Scenes12
3.3.1 The Jamaican Scene12
3.3.2 The British Scene13
3.3.3 The Canadian Scene14
4. Structural Characteristics of Dub Poetry15
4.1 Patois – the Language15
4.2 Rhythm15
4.3 Performance17
5 Linguistic Analysis of Dub Poetry Lyrics and Performance18 5.1 Linton Kwesi Johnson18
5.2 Wat about di Workin Claas?19
5.3 Tings an Times – Performance Aspects in Comparison21
6 Reflection23
7 Bibliography and Discography24
8 Appendix25

1 Introduction
Dub poetry is often said to be a musical genre due to its close connection to reggae music, but a second glance reveals quite obviously dub poetry’s affiliation to a literary form rooted in the oral tradition of Jamaica. The generally accepted creed of dub poetry is “Word, Sound and Power”, it is self-proclaimed and clearly underlines it’s peculiarity in terms of the spoken word being the central medium. It is therefore not comparable to western poetry because the content of a dub poem achieves its value through the Creole language and the integrated rhythm (cf. Habekost 1986, 9f.). But the term “dub poetry” as such is not easy to define and aroused controversial discussions in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, because some of the artists simply did not see themselves as dub poets. The term itself was coined by Oku Onuora, referring to it “as a technical term describing the process of sound engineering at a mixing desk in a recording studio”(Habekost 1993a: 206), but many poets such as Linton Kwesi Johnson and Mutabaruka front this term rather critically because they fear to be restricted to reggae (cf. Habekost 1993a: 206). Even today, reggae music seems to be the super ordinate concept for everything from the Caribbean which is underlined by music because of the international high profile of Bob Marley and other reggae artists of the 1970’s. Despite the fact that some dub poets such as Linton Kwesi Johnson achieved international fame, this genre stands back and is often lumped together with reggae to the same level as Jamaican Creole is quite often not defined as independent language. One reason for the free-spirited and non-commercial character of dub poetry is its invariable use of Jamaican Creole to express “Word, Sound and Power” rather than performing in Standard English for commercial purposes. Therefore this paper argues that through dub poetry, especially the native Creole lyrics, the artist is able to constitute an African identity. The message is supported by the special style and structure of the poem, quite often but not necessarily underlined by music. This thesis will firstly be underlined thoughout the paper by a portrayal of the oral tradition in the context of Jamaican history and the development of dub poetry. Then the peculiarity of dub is emphasised and an overview over the artists and different scenes is given. The structural characteristics and parameters serve as foundation for the following linguistic analysis of dub poetry lyrics and performances. Finally the linguistic analysis will be reflected.
2 History and Development of Dub Poetry
The development of dub poetry is strongly based upon Jamaica’s history in close connection to African slave labour and their total emancipation in 1834 (cf. Holm 1994: 340). In the past, education was predominantly reserved to the white population in Jamaica and to the ones with a higher status. With the gained independence in 1962 literacy has increased to 76 % (cf. Holm 1989: 471), so that the oral culture of Jamaica increasingly achieved support from the literary side. The genre of dub poetry is based on the phenomenon of...
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