Master One-Born Fire recording artiste Anthony B has defended his right to creative expression and refused to change the words of his hard-hitting ‘Bun Iniquity’ single after it appears that there is a move afoot by members of the political establishment to have the song banned because of the fiery message in its lyrics.
The establishment appears to have a particular problem with the lines “put them head on a pole” and ‘nah go stop till dem head roll down the hill”.
“If they want to ban it, fine. I want to maintain the integrity of my music. This message needs to get out. Now is not the time to water down the message. The people ah face terrible levels of poverty, rising crime, terrible inflation. The gunman dem a kill cops; people a suffer. We affi mek the fire bun Babylon, burn out all iniquity. I know that there are many who support that message and will play the song. My fire is a metaphorical fire to purge the demons out of our society, and mi nah water down the message just to get airplay,” Anthony B said.
Anthony B has come a far way from the raw country boy out of Clark’s Town, Trelawny, inspired by the roots message of Peter Tosh and the innovation of ‘gangsta’ deejay Ninja Man. Using that combination, he rattled the mainstream with the hard-hitting Fire Pon Rome in 1996. The song took jabs at corporate and political leaders, and its forthright lyrical stance, rebuking the island’s politicians for their apathy towards the underprivileged masses, proved too controversial in an election year and was quickly banned from Jamaica’s airwaves.
“We have to play our role in revitalising reggae as a potent medium for social agitation. It remains one of the few forms of expression through which one can protest against injustice, inequities, and evil. So dem a try mek Bun Iniquity into a next Fire Pon Rome, but mi ready fi dem because the truth must be told. A it alone can set us free as a nation,” Anthony B said.
Anthony B is often compared to Peter Tosh, perhaps the most militant reggae artiste Jamaica has ever produced. Anthony B ranks Tosh among his primary musical influences and even paid tribute by covering Tosh’s signature anthem Equal Rights 11 years ago on an album.
“Until even the poorest of us has access to the same rights to health, shelter, clothing, food, and education, then there will be no peace. Why can’t Jamaica provide a better standard of living for its people after so many years of Independence? Why so many guns coming into the country? Why the media a bombard us with images of bleaching and violence, and barbarism? Why ban a song that protests against iniquities and immorality?” he asked passionately.
The fiery toaster, who burst on to the music scene 17 years ago with chart hits like Hurt The Heart and Raid The Barn, believes that the same problems have persisted for too long.
“I will not be silenced. The message is the only reason we do reggae music,” he said.