Reading the Clash

There’s a reason Kamau Brathwaite calls it a “nation language”. What is commonly known as Patois may sound like English, but it’s often expressed using quite different grammar and most certainly a pile of different vocab. This is evident to those who study Jamaican lit, but also to anyone who has even a passing interest in reggae. It’s tough for foreigners to understand Bob, but it’s even more tough to understand the rapid-fire speech of dancehall. And this is a problem, because so much of what happens in the dance–and in the clash–is based on the “argument”. Though Ricky Trooper’s time ‘pon Youchube might have diminished his reputation, last year at around this time he was able to get the massive on his side in magnificent fashion against an initially strong Blacc Widdo (check the tune fi tune especially) as part of the Guinness Sounds of Greatness–and it was all because of what he said. Blacc Widdo look totally shocked at the turn of events.
Now, thanks to PJ “Prince” Rickards, we have a series of famous (or infamous) deejay clashes “translated to English, for all of you dancehall fans that never knew exactly what they were really saying.” Rickards does take some liberties with his translations, but it does make the clips much more accessible–and the competitions clearer. Sure, there are bits and pieces lost in the translation, just like in literary translation, but Rickards’s webisode project does provide a clearer window into the clash…

Thanks for the heads up on this stuff from Taliesin GilkesBower.