Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ersatz of Bob Marley - Kaya

Even Paradise has a dark side. Kaya was a reggae singer from Mauritius who, like all reggae singers in the World, advocated for the depenalization and legalization of drugs, particularly marijuana. After a meeting/concert with other local artists, Kaya was imprisoned for smoking marijuana. A couple of days before leaving jail, he was found dead in his cell, with his skull totally crushed. The Mauritius government claimed he beat himself to death against the walls of the prison. His supporters have always argued he was beaten by the prison guards. After Kaya's death, black minorities started a series of revolts in Port Louis, Mauritius' capital, and in other parts of the country.  You can read more about this story in Wikipedia (terrible drafting, probably written by uneducated Mauritians). Back in the day, The Guardian, the Economist and the BBC reported on the matter. Nobody could believe that one of the most peaceful and beautiful nations in the planet could be the scenario of turmoil and repression.

Even though Mauritius is one of the most civilized nations in the World, the case has remained unsolved since 1999. If anybody needs any reminder that Mauritius is in Africa, the Kaya affair is exactly that. 

As is often the case with pop artists, Kaya soon became an icon. He is credited for inventing seggae, a combination of reggae with the local music sega. Like all reggae singers, Kaya basically tried to repeat and emulate everything Bob Marley did. Ersatz of Bob Marley is, more than a tribute, a series of ill-produced covers. A tribute album should be, I think, a reinvention of the songs, not a repetition with slightly different music. Other than the story of Kaya himself, I didn't really get anything from this album, which is really sad.

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