Umkhonto We Sizwe (Spear of the Nation)

Prince Far I

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Umkhonto We Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) Review

by Rick Anderson

The late Prince Far I (born Michael Williams) occupied a unique place midway between the deejays U-Roy and Big Youth and the more somber dub poets like Mutabaruka and Linton Kwesi Johnson. He preferred to be called a "chanter" rather than a "toaster" or deejay, and with good reason: where most deejays would focus on flowing delivery and clever wordplay, Prince Far I was always more concerned with content than form. His deep, gravelly voice was perfectly suited to the scriptural verses he would often set to music, and his attitude was almost always one of stern instruction. On Spear of the Nation, he implores his listeners to pray and to stop fighting each other, and also chants in praise of black mothers everywhere. The backing band (which is unidentified on the CD, but sounds a lot like the Roots Radics) underpins his lyrics with tight, rock-solid grooves, and vocal tracks alternate with good, but not great, dub versions by producer Roy Cousins.

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