what can i say? mr. linton kwesi johnson.

trackback. the first time i heard LKJ live was at NYU years ago. 99. it was also the first time i heard him perform reggae fi may ayim. i wanted to know who this woman was. this woman who was gone before i had even heard of her. i printed out an article on the net and started on a path to learn about the history of black people in germany. i hopped on amazon to find a copy of Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out. seeing LKJ live here in berlin was a full circle for me. new york to berlin. as part of the Black Atlantic and the Black Media Congress, the first May Ayim Award for Black German Literature will be presented this year.

i’m always happy when anglophone musicians come out to europe. i will be the first one there if it isn’t way overpriced. i can understand why it may not be all that interesting for people to play cities and venues where the audience only 1/2 understands what you are saying or singing or rapping, especially if you have be on the tour bus for weeks at a time. i would stay at home too. so when meshell, the roots, roy hardgrove, or zap mama come my way, it’s like a birthday present and i get happy. (mos def, it’s my birthday soon)

at some point though, it’s hard to experience a concert when people are straight dancing over the words. if the lyrics only reach the extent of "you remind me of my jeep," fine. however, it’s just tactless and inappropriate to be yelling WoooooooHoo all loud during a descriptive passage of a beatdown by the police. all the ladies in the house for police brutality say heeeeeeeeeey!? if you don’t understand the words, maybe keeping quiet is your best bet. ironically, where beats used to bring folk to listen to political and critical lyrics, in this case, the meaning is drowned out.   

LKJ on the Black Atlantic in Berlin: i hope these events mean that Germany is coming to terms with its multicultural society.

… and the 95% white audience clapped, hooted and hollered.

LKJ on terrorism: we, black people, have known about terrorism (way before 9-11).

… and the 95% white audience clapped, hooted and hollered.

um ok… right. the show ended on a piece, extolling the benefits of a shorter working day, week, life, etc. the audience was really enthusiastic. i found this kind of funny. shops are closed here most of saturdays and sundays. you have to look hard to find someone wearing a suit in berlin. actually LKJ was the first person i’ve seen wearing a suit in berlin. in london, you have to work 100 hours a week, at "tree" jobs, in living color style, just to afford to buy a toothbrush. that is NOT the same thing… but whatever i had a good time. the dancing folk had a great time. it’s all good.




  1. Carolyn said,

    Thursday 8 February 2007 at 5:25 am

    Hi, I’m studying LKJ in university and we were wondering the other day how his poetry is translated into other languages, but we have no access to these translations. I was wondering if maybe you had an idea of what these translations are like – whether or not the language gets lost in translation. I was fascinated by your comments on the audience, the inpropriate cheering and so forth. I would love to hear more about this from you.

  2. sattva said,

    Thursday 8 February 2007 at 7:05 am

    i’ve never heard nor read LKJ in translation so I wouldn’t know…

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