Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel: Live last night
By Sarah Godfrey
Roots reggae shows are always a careful mix of entertainment and exploration of social ills, as there are limits to how much purpose can be mixed with partying. While one might be able to groove to heavy lyrics about revolution and spirituality, it is not so easy to dance to a song about, say, incest. At the Crossroads on Saturday night, Queen Ifrica tested the boundaries of issue music with "Daddy," a molestation-themed track (and unlikely hit) from this year's "Montego Bay."
(Tony Rebel also rouses the crowd, after the jump.)
"Still feelin' all right?" she asked the audience at the end of the song, and no one seemed quite sure. But, to her credit, Queen Ifrica was able to deliver her powerful message, then immediately restore the crowd's energy as she switched between sweet singing and husky toasting, jumping between material from 2007's "Fyah Muma" ("Lengthen My Days") and "Montego Bay" ("Lioness on the Rise").
Co-headliner Tony Rebel, legendary for his ability to brightly deliver political lyrics, later swooped in with "Jah Will Never Let Us Down," "Hypocrites" and "Sweet Jamaica," an ode to his homeland that he embellished with new lyrics about the United States. ("I find solution for this country/I hope Barack Obama listen to me/And legalize the good sensi.")
Rebel also broke up a string of his biggest hits -- "Fresh Vegetable," "Just Friends" and both English and Spanish versions of "Jah Is by My Side" -- with unexpected covers of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."
And, as an encore, Rebel called Queen Ifrica back to the stage and they performed a duet of Bob Marley's "Forever Loving Jah," one the most rousing socially conscious songs of all time.
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