Saturday, October 27, 2007

Another man of peace gunned down...

Well, i guess this is one helluva a somber subject to make my posting debut...

Just over a week ago, as I began a week's long vacation, Reggae superstar Lucky Dube was gunned down in an apparent car-jacking in his home country of South Africa. I didn't learn about it until a few days later as I was purposely avoiding the newspaper and the internet during the first few days i was on the West Coast.

And since returning home a couple of days ago, this is the first time i've had a moment to put pen to paper, so to speak, and express my thoughts.

Dube was one of those good guys. In a lot of ways, his death reminds of the death of Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay, who's murder ironically came just about 5 years prior to that of Dube's. When JMJ was killed, writer Mark Anthony Neal (link above) wrote the following: "Within the context of hip-hop music and culture the killing of Jam Master Jay is comparable to someone walking up to Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin and shooting them in the head. It is cultural treason."

And i'm not sure it's any different with Dube.

Like Jay, Dube was a man of peace. Run-DMC never preached violence and was, despite a harder edge, rap with a conscience. Lucky Dube went the same route. While his music was often angry as he expressed his protests to Apartheid in that system of oppression's final decade, his music was about freedom - both physical and spiritual.

His first record - "Rastas Never Die" - was banned by the South African government, so, unbeknownst to his label, he went right back into the studio and recorded the follow up - "Think About the Children" - which became a monster hit and led to probably his best known record "Slave", which sold over a half-million copies. The names of subsequent records indicated just how deeply Dube felt about the conditions in South Africa - "Captured Live", "Prisoner", "House of Exile", and "Victims" were all released prior to the end of Apartheid. It wasn't until Apartheid was finally ended did Dube's albums take on an optimistic tone - "Together as One", "Trinity", and "Serious Reggae" all followed.

Much like his own musical hero, the late Peter Tosh, Dube's violent death was shocking and flew in the face of everything he preached for and sang about. In another ironic twist, Dube was murdered on the day before what would have been Tosh's 53rd birthday.

The world lost another great music legend when Dube was killed. But, more importantly, the world lost another man of peace, a man who wielded some of the most powerful weapons available - those weapons being the combined forces of music, and the voice of the common man.

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