It is often said that when one leaves this part of existence to the great beyond, all that is left of one is the legacy and work one has done. If there is anyone who has etched his name in the minds of reggae music lovers, Ekeleke Elumelu better known as Ras Kimono would comfortably wear that crown.
Born on May 9, 1958, in Delta State, Ras Kimono made it known to anyone who cared to listen that he made music not just because he wanted to, but because it was his way of bringing people’s attention to the sufferings of the common man and the ills of the society.
“I live where the people live so I can see the tribulations they are going through, the suffering and the humiliation, so we can put it into our music and expose it,” he once said in one of his interviews.
Unfortunately, the global music scene was thrown into mourning on Sunday when news broke that the musical voice of the people had kicked the bucket. He had died after a brief illness.
The late Ras Kimono started making music from his early days as a child. In this remembrance of the music maestro, Sahara Reporters compiled a list five songs that brought him global recognition and made he become the ‘prophet of the masses’.
1. Natty Get Jail
When the late King of Afrobeat Fela Anikulapo Kuti got jailed, Ras Kimono got an inspiration to write a song for him. However, Fela secured bail before Kimono could release the song. For this reason, he changed the title of the song from ‘Fela Getta jail’ to ‘Natty Get Jail’. Up on its release, the song became an instant hit. He would later say in an interview with Premium Times: “When Fela was locked up, right, I wrote that song strictly for Fela (And he starts singing ‘Fela Getta Jail, ey!, They must a give him bail ey!’) but before I could release the tune and ask the company, he was bailed, so I reversed it to ‘Natty Get Jail’. So, originally it was a song written for Fela to be bailed, you know.”
2. Rhumba Stylee
In 1989, Ras Kimono, together with his Massive Dread Reggae Band, dropped his debut album, ‘Under Pressure’. ‘Rhumba stylee’ was a track off the album and it went on to become a hit. To follow up with the success of the song, a video was released. The song was accompanied with a dance style, which, according to Kimono, was a “dance step you know, back in the day there was something called the twist dance, you know, I tried to bring twist dance back and so that’s why I did that.”
3. What Gwan?
In this song, Ras Kimono directed his anger at the government, asking them why the country was going in the direction it was. A part of the song’s lyrics went “No Place to sleep, No place to eat. Whata gwan inna this a country. Whata gwan inna this nation”. Ras Kimono once wondered in an interview that if he did not speak the truth, “who will do it for the people?”
4. Under Pressure
This song is another one of the numerous conscious tracks of Ras Kimono. In this song, he was assisted by female back-up singers. The lyrics went thus: “Some are dying, some are weeping, some are wailing…..Under pressure we are under pressure.” In the song, he also talks about the ills going on around the world, especially Nigeria. Ras Kimono, whose love for the masses can never be questioned, sang about the sufferings of his people.
5. ‘We No Wan’
On this slow reggae track, Ras Kimono talks about the things he does not want. In this song, he describes the system as “Shit stem”. For the Rastafarian, the system has done no good and has only promoted massive looting, segregation and hardship.
Kimono’s message of truth brought peace to the troubled mind of the masses. Now that he has gone to be with Jehovah, one can only ask, like he once asked in one of his interviews: “Who will do it for the people?”