Reggae is generally known as Jamaican music brewed with a variety of rhythms, some of which came from Africa.
Prolific artiste and dub poet, Blakk Rasta felt the African feel had become too diluted over the years and his quest for the restoration of the African energy back into the music has resulted in a creation which he proudly refers to as ancestral moonsplash.
Expectedly, his latest work is an 18-track album titled Ancestral Moonsplash on which he employs a variety of rhythms and beats from across Ghana to cook some palatable reggae sounds.
According to Blakk Rasta, he arrived at his Moonsplash brew through strenuous research and with ample support from Korkor Amarteifio and the late Prof Komla Amoaku of the Institute for Music and Development.
“Ancestral Moosplash’s direction is influenced through instruments like the xylophone, dondo and kologo. The style also infuses rhythms like bamaya, adowa, borborbor, damba, takai and kpanlogo,” Blakk Rasta says.
So on songs like Gurgu Lana, Puuh Watih, Amina, Zantan Bua and Dagban Paga, one could be forgiven for assuming that the engaging unison of percussion sounds were recorded during a fun session on a moonlit-night at Blakk Rasta’s backyard at Kalpohin Estates in Tamale.
The percussion cohesion may be pleasant to the ears but Blakk Rasta has seen and heard a lot of things not pleasant to his ears over the years and he puts some of them to a song on the album.
There is anger and frustration in songs like Our Africa which features Jah Amber and Ogoni Rebellion which features Fiifi Selah.
Some people tend to wave away Blakk Rasta whenever his name pops up because he is seen as a personality that courts controversy for its own sake.
The man is, however, an astute observer of events in this country, Africa and the rest of the world and the creative instinct in him always pushes him to comment on them in his songs.
On Ogoni Rebellion for instance, he lambasts late Nigerian leader Sani Abacha and calls him ‘a bloody vampire’ for facilitating the death of environmental campaigner, Ken Sarowiwa. Blakk Rasta takes advantage of the song to talk down to Africa’s ‘mis-leaders’ for exploiting the masses.
The track called Letter To God has Blakk Rasta almost hovering on the fringes of blasphemy. He questions God on why ‘righteous’ folks like Bob Marley, Lucky Dube and Marcus Garvey had to die early while ‘wicked’ people like Mobutu Sese Seko, P. W. Botha and Ronald Reagan lived for long.
The way the song ended sounded like the song’s author had given up belief in God:
I end this letter without looking forward to your reply
Whether you reply or not I have made up my mind
Thank you, your ex-servant.
What sort of woman is a ‘bola bird’? It seems Blakk Rasta’s ever-encircling eyes spotted the ladies into relationships merely for material gains and he chastises them in the song called Bola Bird.
There is a fair amount of exasperation expressed in other songs but Blakk Rasta takes time to appreciate the goodness of a woman called Amina, realising that “one never misses water until the well runs dry.” The lyrics in the song are re-worked for another song in the collection called Sakina.
There is also a fast-paced piece in praise of Tohazie the Red Hunter, the warrior acclaimed for founding the Mole-Dagbani kingdom. The Ancestral Moonsplash album may be Blakk Rasta’s work but it served as a platform for several other artistes to bring out some of the good stuff inside them.
Particularly impressive is singer Jah Amber on the Our Africa song. He expressed himself very well and brought memories of the supreme Jamaican-British reggae singer, Maxi Priest.
Also worth noting on the album is the sweet contribution of the female singers. Nana Ama, Laami, Sherifa Gunu, Makeeda and Afiba all added spice to different songs.
Blakk Rasta’s previous albums are Rasta Shrine (2000), More Fyah (2002), Ganja Minister (2004), Natty Bongo (2006), Naked Wire (2008), Voice of the Afrikan Rebel (2009) and Born Dread (2011).
The Ancestral Moonsplash is a meeting point of the ideas and feelings Blakk Rasta has been expressing through his music over the years. It, however, has the added dimension of exhibiting his essential contribution to reggae and it is worth listening to in its entirety.
The album will be launched at the La Palm Beach Resort on Saturday, July 20.