Mutabaruka OD – Infamously Known As The Roc’s ‘Barefoot’ Dub Poet

There was a time when you  would catch a glimpse of Muta moving through the Streets of Kingston.  No denying he drew attention at least from myself.  Walking barefoot on the piping hot streets of Kingston, where roads are laced with asphalt.  Rock stones, not pebbles, and all manner of grime, and everything that can come out of one’s mouth when they decide to ‘hack to’.   How did he maneuver through all that?  For crying out loud, as a child I was scolded for walking barefoot and to this day, my barefoot walking extends to an area around a sandy beach right by a chill spot.  Not even walking to enter into the ocean, can I muster up the experience of having the sand on my feet for too long.  For sure, I have on what I refer to as my beach sandals and wear it as close as I can and then enter the Ocean.  I really do not care what you have to say on that revelation.  From the Islands, but do not walk barefoot.  So you get an idea of the kind of reaction I would have on those occasions I would see Muta during the 1980’s. 

I must admit Muta through my eyes and ears have evolved on a level that pales in comparison to my earliest memories of him.  Talk about social issues and Muta is your man.  He has become a distinguished radio host on Irie FM, Cutting Edge, his segment.  With his uniqueness, intellect, and raw talent Muta captures an audience where he seeks to educate the listeners on social welfare on the Roc.  He is famously known on the global stage make no bones about that.

On a trip some years ago to the USA, a colleague of mine sat beside him on the aircraft.  Once we landed, her excitement at having him engage her in dialogue where she excitedly shared with him her wellness interests.  The attention he paid to her thoughts and at the end of it all encouraged her on those pursuits.  Oh yes I saw him, did I notice whether he was barefoot or not, yes he was, and I smiled to myself.  Mutabaruka is many things, but what is profoundly remarkable is that as he is established he has never strayed from his beliefs and his truths.  He is credible because he remained true to his philosophy and has never saw it fit to ‘tear down’ malign another to remain relevant.  His awareness and involvement on social issues which will involve politics is the way he sees it.   Your message will not always be favorable or acceptable to ALL; that is this life.  In time, however, there comes a moment when the powers of be take note of those whom a few have become the influencers,  contributors, the voice of the people in a land where social, political and environmental issues cannot be separated in our pursuit of freedom and democracy.

Mutabaruka OD, commander class, well done on achieving this accolade!!


‘Muta’ called to order

(Jamaica Observer) Monday, October 17, 2016 25 Comments

When he took the stage to perform at Reggae Sunsplash in 1981, the barefoot dub poet called Mutabaruka was unknown. He created a stir with his raw delivery of pieces like Witeman Country and Every Time A Ear De Sound and left the stage a star.

Now 63, ‘Muta’ is still raising eyebrows with his take on social issues — from corrupt Jamaican politicians to rampant poverty and crime in Jamaica.

Today, the man christened Allan Hope will receive the Order of Distinction (Commander class) from the Jamaican government for his contribution to the country’s music.

He will be recognised today during the National Awards and Honours ceremony at King’s House in St Andrew.

Two years after his triumphant Sunsplash debut, Mutabaruka’s debut album Check It! was released. Produced by guitarist Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, it contained the aforementioned songs as well as the hard-hitting De System and Butta Pan Kulcha.

Check It! is one of reggae’s great statements. It touched a nerve with budding poets like Yasus Afari and Afro-centric people like Marcia Simpson, who was raised in the United Kingdom.

“I have known Muta since 1982 and he has always been an inspiration because of his investment in books and for the knowledge acquired. He’s very outstanding…his impact is global, not just in Jamaica,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

For over a decade, Mutabaruka has hosted the aptly named Cutting Edge on Irie FM, touching hot button topics and playing like-minded music from Jamaica, the Diaspora and Africa.

The entertainment/arts are strongly represented at today’s ceremony. Deejay Shabba Ranks, singers William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke and Gregory Isaacs, and painter Cecil Cooper have also been awarded ODs (Officer class). Chris Chin, president of VP Records, and sculptors Cecil Cooper and Basil Watson have been awarded the OD Commander class.

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