c. 1975: Kingston
bang the drum
So one Friday now, what a policeman would
call “the day in question,” things went as I’ve
described them. I was in my room—if you can
imagine a prefabricated Jamaican house: louver
windows, gauzy yellow curtains, tile floors, dark
wood bed with an iron spring, a trunk full o’
old clothes, walls festooned with posters of soul
singers and third-world revolutionaries, and a
dresser with doilies and bottles of Big Wheel,
Brut, and Old Spice colognes—when a piece o’
bloodclaat bass began to roll through the house
like a fog.
My mother kept calling me but I didn’t
answer her. What would have been the point?
I knew why she was calling me. She knew why
she was calling me. She wanted to run off her
mouth ’pon me about the music, as if it wasn’t
coming from somebody else’s house.
I knew where it was coming from. She
knew where it was coming from. The house behind us, which was owned by a rasta bredrin
named Jah Mick. We grew up with Jah Mick.
He used to be my older brother’s closest friend,
and they’d both gotten soccer scholarships to
the States. Jah Mick had gone up as Michael,
what society people like my mother used to call
“a decent boy.” But he’d come back six months
Member of Femi Kuti’s band prior to going onstage, Lagos, Nigeria, 2013. Photograph by Alex Majoli.