Jamaican/Rastafari word for VITAL, ORGANIC, NATURAL, WHOLESOME… real roots

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Blood Leaves, Elephant Trunks & A Yellow Flower: The Return of My Muse

I uprooted this from my myspace page. It was written the day after I was told that my college (SUNY Purchase in Westchester County,NY) used to be a slave holding/auction spot and how deeply I felt about the experience.  

There is very little information to refute the claim and of course it is not something we were taught about the history of the school. But it is a dirty little secret that most of us had heard along the way. 

Today, Purchase, New York is an extremely wealthy town that houses the corporate headquarters of MasterCard and PepsiCo (the school only sold Pepsi beverages..monopoly anyone?). 

Written in 2007

Experiences can be taken as the lessons of life. So whatever it is that one does one needs to gain a lesson from it.

Writing used to be my outlet. I say ‘used to be’ because I haven’t been writing as much as I once did or even should be now. Just living and thinking without much literature. In fact, I haven’t been reading much other than school work. What is it that made the muse missing in my mind, what made my muse minimize in my heightZ, and leave me without that light, that might, that potency and power and in the scheme of all things i think i found it in that yellow flower………….

Yesterday was a day that was well spent and important to my life. Who knew that the land that I have been walking through was a slave plantation, only looking much different because of its new buildings and modernization. I spent the day with, Janessa who had been at the school before me. We drove to one of the nearby towns but we really wanted to chill at school.

I had heard of ‘The Elephant Tree’, but didn’t know what the raas it was, so she said she would show it to me. As we walked the grounds she told me why it was called the ‘Elephant Tree’. Halfway into the story she gasped and said “Z look, i’ve never seen it with Blood Red Leaves!!!”, I followed her around the corner and immediately i knew why it is called the ‘Elephant Tree’.

A tree in a yard not closely surrounded by any trees, standing obviously different from the others. The Leaves had the colour of rich blood- exposed to the open air, broken from skin.

The closer I walked to it the more I realized that the ground I was standing on knew the blood and last footsteps of Afrikans brought to or born in the U.S and the high high branches that I was about to be beneath were used to lynch my family whose lives were never their own.

The Branches- they looked like the trunks of an elephant but this elephant seemed to have a thousand trunks spewing the blood of those separated at this spot and centuries of sorrow.

The overwhelming feelings that moved within and around me, this language does not have the capacity to explain. The only thing I felt like knowing was what was my true-true name. I wondered of those fated to this spot and did they complain, when they were damned to die, did they feel their lives were in vain. What are their true-true names, these people we only know as slaves, who are their people who are all over and still in chains.

Even if just mental…

What happened to those who were left in Africa to mourn? These are the same ones today we look at with scorn, only because we feel we are better born; HOW? When from our life-line we were torn. To fetch, feed, farm, fuck and forlon????

To bleed and die; the tree with the bloody leaves.

My body became filled with a tide that brought me so close to my roots that my feet touched Mother’s Shore.

And it was all in that yellow flower that I found my clutch. The yellow flower, placed in praise, by an anonymous praiser who showed me that I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE! Someone shares my vision of vitality from the strength of our ancestors. In Honouring the Honourable. Respecting the Respectable. Moving towards a trod that enables the prosperity and life more abundant that is ours.

I luv my life, and I know that it has to be livicated to so much more than me. For in that bloody red elephant tree, i saw my body and I saw that I am key, and in the yellow flower I see what I want to be.


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Kendrick Lamar samples Jamaican singer’s “Every N*gger Is A Star” on new album

This is a 2009 post from my first blog about a tune called “Every Nigger is A Star”. At the time I was an anthropology and media undergrad student in New York exploring the intersection of Caribbean and black American culture in history and in the present. Urbanmediaoutlet became and I went on to name an interview category Every Nigga Is A Star where I asked creatives like Minka and Protoje random questions that anyone could most likely answer –  hence “every nigga.”

Obviously, its a notion that has stuck with me a long time so when I heard the opening of Kendrick Lamar’s new album I instantly knew I had to find this post because it has a lot of valuable info about that “WTF you just said” term.

Kendrick Lamar opened his 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly with ‘Wesley’s Theory’, a track that samples “Every Nigger is A Star” by Jamaican singer Boris Gardiner. Gardiner didnt do much as a singer but it is amazing how this one song has sparked so many other creatives to produce hot ish. Most Jamaicans (in Jamaica) will know Gardiner though… he sings “I wanna wake up with you.”

FYI There was a Every Nigger is a Star movie too.

I’ll be unearthing a lot more of these old writings as I gear up to become active on Ital Mama again. Also, just because a lot of them are still relevant to today’s pop culture like this one below.



NOVEMBER 19 2009 posted on

My dad used to used to sing this to us as yout’s. We thought he was crazy but we came to find out years later its a real song.

I should also mention that in 1974 Big Youth made a more popular version (I-Threes on backing vocals) and Frankie Paul did a version in 1991.  

Supercat also gained inspiration from the song with not one, but TWO songs coming from this meds.  Listen to the Don Dada on the obvious “Every Nigger is a Star” but also make sure that you notice the melody and lyrics of his very popular 1992 release “Nuff Man A Dead”:

“Im not sure anymore

Who is knocking at my door (door)

The places that I knew

Jah man, its so sunny and blue

I-man can see it in the sky (sky)

Tenor Saw already die

Me say me oh me oh my my”

is a take on Gardiner’s “Every Nigger is a star”: 

“Im not sure anymore 

Just how it happened before

The places that I knew

Were sunny and blue

I can feel it deep inside 

This black niggers pride…”

Ready for another 6 degrees of separation from “Every Nigga is A Star”? Kanye West’s 2007 release Graduation featured a tune with Mos Def called “Good Night” where Mos sings the “Im not sure anymore…” hook from Supercat. Yaadie dem large nuh bloodclaat!!!

I love when I make these connections! Respect due to Boris Gardiner, his version came first:

From the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner (Nov 8 2009) Mel Cooke “Story of the Song”series:

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