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jimmy cliff - interview with the reggae legend nominated for a grammy
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|underground resistance - graffiti train bombing meets hornby at this new show|
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well 2004 is almost over, how was it for you?
this time of year you're almost obliged to reflect on the year gone and the year ahead. for us at ammo, 2004 was certainly one of extremes. this time last year we relocated from london to jamaica and by boxing day were dodging bullet’s at the sting dancehall festival after ninja man and vibz kartel had a fall out.
our friends back home urged us to return but having shipped, at considerable expense, our entire studio in 3 huge flight cases to establish a new media facility in a more peaceful part of jamaica we were determined to make a go of it. 3 months on and after working on major projects our host forgot to pay us. we might have guessed there was trouble on the horizon when we were 'begged a bligh" from our "partners" within weeks of our arrival - a "bligh" being a cash loan from our savings.
after decamping to another spot on the island things relaxed, we got into the flow, made friends and established a business to pay our way, we even got ammo back online! our business (and day job) was a small media production house that was intended to recruit and train local talent. everything was idyllic but soon changed when an ex-associate decided that the island was too small to share.
in paroxysms of rage our would be nemesis come stalker engaged in a campaign of hate and incitement to violence against us. “us” included a 3 year old child and the campaign led to the appointment of 24 hour armed police and security until the eventual arrest of the jilted one. we left jamaica after this guy was released not because of him but because in order to stay we may have been forced to become part of the problem.
our misadventure in jamaica became a net sub-culture cause du jour with record server traffic and other websites giving their 10 cents worth of ringside commentary. a shock for us was how skin colour rather than facts became the issue. our stalker being mixed, i white, clearly i was the oppressor and i had no business being in jamaica anyway. this was the message received in various formats from many non-jamaican black people but more from bruschetta munching white liberals sitting safely in the home counties in a neighbourhood watch scheme with their bob marley collections.
they regarded as entertainment effigies of my ghanaian wife ("obviously a coconut") that were posted online with threats against our daughter and the prospects of the lynching of whitey to assuage their middle class guilt. and then an email appeared from the nation of islam who sent their condolences and offered us council during our trouble regardless of our racial mix. the world in our eyes upside down, everything we thought we knew was wrong.
what we hadn't realised when all this started was that it would be a pre-cursor to a summer and autumn of discontent about the growing popularity of hate music emanating from the jamaican dancehall scene. our stalker had taken editorial written for the national newspaper and some comments we'd made after the violent murder of activist brian williamson and was publically "outing" us in jamaica as gay and human rights activists.
again, our ganja toking pinkos back in blighty saw this as further evidence of our cultural imperialism, the national newspapers wouldn't touch it anymore than they would tackle the relentless racial harassment of my family. so it comes with some pleasure that the observer newspaper now has peter tatchell of outrage! as one of the hero's of 2004 given that it's previous coverage along with its peers and stable mates has been so hypocritical.
so after we'd returned to london our stalker turned his amour to other targets - a well known urban artist here, a couple of well known american journalists there, record industry people and so on. together with events that unfurled the truth has meant a silencing of the armchair ghetto tourists and vindication for us at ammo.
we're often asked if we regret our adventure and the answer is no, it achieved exactly what we'd hoped for and that was to change our lives and preconceptions for the better. it has been at times terrifying, painful and frustrating but has given us an insight into the human condition that can only be found by living it. but those that want to know more will have to wait for the book that our publishers say should be out by next christmas!
our 2004 has been like a life and career washing machine, we're looking forward to 2005 with greater clarity and purpose than at any point we can remember. next year will see ammo city change again; rather than attempt to worry about what's trendy and what it's been in the past we're going to focus on what we're calling "urban expressionism" covering art, music, lifestyle and thought. ammo will serve no commercial purpose and will simply encourage a community of people that are either practising or inspired by urban expression and we'll be doing it just for enjoyment.
so all that's left is for us to wish you all the warmest seasons greetings and that 2005 brings you all that you need.
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