Although Linton Kwesi Johnson invented dub poetry and remains the most influential of its practitioners, Michael Smith was another incredibly talented, politically ferocious dub poet who, tragically, lived long enough to release only one record. Born in a rough section of Kingston, Smith grew up in a reggae culture immersed in the toasting riddims of I-Roy and U-Roy, the heavy dub that Lee Perry and King Tubby were churning out, and the political stance of Bob Marley. Smith, who began his career (much like Johnson) as a poet, raged against a Jamaican political machine (be it left or right wing) that seemed to fail the majority of its people. He was also consumed by racism and its impact in the Caribbean and on West Indian emigres. Smith's poetry reached the ears of Linton Kwesi Johnson and, with help from Dennis Bovell, he brought Smith to England to record an album of dub poetry backed by a fine band that included members of Bovell's Dub Band and the excellent Afro-Brit reggae group Aswad. Produced by Bovell and LKJ, Smith's debut, Mi Cyaan Believe It, was a scintillating piece of work, a signal that along with Johnson and Mutabaruka, dub poetry was entering an incredibly fertile period. Smith returned to Jamaica in 1982 only to be gunned down under mysterious circumstances by members of the Jamaican Labour Party. It was alleged that Smith had attacked them, but given the nation's volatile political history, no one was buying that explanation, and the politically motivated murder of Michael Smith robbed reggae of one of its most eloquent voices of protest. ~ John DouganPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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