Saturday, 4 December 2010

CD REVIEW: d'bi young's "womanifesto"--she ain't goin out like that!

Drop the word “socio-political” in a conversation and most people’s eyes would glaze over in anticipation of the preaching and boredom to follow; but, in the case of d’bi young’s latest CD, “wombanifesto”, all it takes is a listen to the assertive lyrics and reggae, latin, beatbox and punk rhythms and the word “socio-political” will take on an unexpected new energy.

With its raw, powerful lyrics and African-Caribbean rhythms, “wombanifesto” is a powerful assertion of the female in general, and a defiant declaration of existence by the black woman. The CD’s universal appeal will come from the listener’s recognition of what is happening in the world, to the Earth, even as they dance and chant along with the lyrics. young’s dub poetry speaks of long-suppressed truths, truths that resonate with the collective and the individual.

The rocking “gendah bendah” is an anthem to those who don’t fit into any of the institutionalized boxes imposed by society. “animal farm” with its punk-reggae beats will have them all thinking about media manipulation and manufactured popular opinion.

The womb bleeds in tracks like “children of a lesser god” and “blood” (back up by jo watson). The former talks about sexual molestation of girls and boys and is also a metaphor for “uncle sam”’s perversions; the latter, blasts the marketing of modern-day secrecy and shame that have replaced centuries-old menstruation rituals. young’s Yoruba references on tracks like “ase elegua”, and “ase ochun” as well as her chant “yemojah moon phoenix” (a dedication to her sons) mix well with the Cuban melodies that flow throughout the CD.

Further proof of young’s universal appeal can be heard in tracks like the decidedly feminine “cycles” about early motherhood. Featuring beat box by da original one and jugular, this track will have you nodding your head in sync. The live performance of “ain’t I a ooman”, a Sojourner Truth homage, where Amina Alfred’s congas will have even men repeating the last refrain.

Adding to young’s powerful poetry is the are the talented musicians such as Cuba’s Havana Jazz Trio, Traza Quartet, Passo Firme Reggae Band, and musicians like Pablo Herrera, Laura Mungila Martinez and Canada’s own Dub Trinity Band. Read her books of poetry and monodramas (she’s won 2 Dora awards), and you will see that she in no studio creation being masked by expert musicians to make a quick buck and satisfy a flavour of the month audience. like assata shakur (whose words are included in a couple of tracks), young is advocating a people's revolution, and she is in it for the long haul, you can hear it in her lyrics and the conviction of her voice: she ain't goin out like that!

d'bi young is currently on tour.
Photo Credits: (top); (middle) Sabriya Simon Photography; (bottom) Alexis Finch

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