Linton Kwesi Johnson
, already a well published poet
, released the first album of a new genre called Dub Poetry
. It was entitled Dread Beat An' Blood
. Though it took inspiration from the toasting
chats of Jamaican sound system
DJs like U-roy
, and the biblical rumblings from bass mother earth
that Prince Far-I
uttered, Dub Poetry
was an innovation
which utilized the power of language
much more consciously
than these precedents.
Aptly named, the words spoken by dub poets are rich with sound, meticulously constructed to be unwound upon their audience. If the words of the earlier DJs, rhymes chanted over the records they were spinning, could be likened to tapping feet along to the music, dub poetry is a fully intergrated choreography of words fit to a reggae score (sometimes more dub sometimes less). The music is by no means a mere soundtrack, some of the best reggae players in the world have backed these poets.
The message of the poetry Johnson and the two other best known dub poets Oku Onuora and Mutabaruka is uncompromisingly political. Speaking out for the rights of black people internationally and in England, America and South Africa in particular, the message married to the music is powerful and of good courage.