It’s REAL out there for artists around the world. When they perform Reggae or Hip-Hop there’s a lot more at stake than the usual chasing of material wealth. For some the struggle to survive is baked into every verse. I met Blessed San while playing a festival in Uganda. During that trip he gave details of his everyday life. We discussed how both the crime and the official response to it can be overwhelming but still, through it all, the beauty of Africa shines through.
The vibrant music and film industry of Uganda feeds the world a larger than life image of itself, reflected through Britain’s post colonial lens. It is an economically segregated country, split between a financially dominant South Asian class and a native Ugandan serfdom. During the times of Idi Amin (early 1970’s) the government’s response to this was the expulsion of all South Asians. Despite that a significant number remained, or returned, citing their patriotism and solidarity with the people of Uganda. Now many expats from different areas of the world are doing the same.
Blessed San and other Ugandan artists routinely collaborate with producers from around the world. “Traitor” is a bass-heavy Dub arrangement from Stalawa, a French producer based in Glasgow. It is a more than worthy vehicle. With finely orchestrated horns, tape delay and the characteristic sound effects, it represents Dub music at its finest. The voice of Blessed San rises above, calling for “Peace & Love & Unity… Together as one philosophy” branding whoever violates those sacred tenets as a Traitor to humanity. Although he is one of Uganda’s premiere artists his universal view shows he is thinking far beyond the borders of his own country.