I Sing What I Like

2007-09-26 08:09

Johnny Clegg
This Jewish Zulu singer gives Steven Bantu a shout out in "Asimbonanga" (translated: we didn't see him) on the album Third World Child. Respect to Mr Clegg for learning and singing in one of Mzansi's ethnic languages. He's a true South African Heritage Day Hero.
Read: Interview. Check his website out

Simphiwe Dana  
SAMA award winning, amandla sista Simphiwe's The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street preaches about black consciousness today. Ms Dana is keeping Bantu Biko's spirit alive by entertaining and educating the masses on the crux of black consciousness; the attitude of mind and a way of life. It's not about racism or prejudice, as many believe. Keep on pushing for the 'emancipation of mental slavery' gal! Watch: live video.

On his latest album Uhmabo lwam the song "Ndinemibuzo", (translated: I've got questions) demands answers. His issue is that he came after the resistance and apartheid regime was over and he wasn’t a part of it. He wants to know why we are still in chains and what is being taught in our schools. Why are children not being taught about Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela he asks? He believes that we are still fighting amongst ourselves. He wants to know what the resistance was all about and therefore keeps asking if everyone’s forgotten about Steve Biko? No blinging and flossing here!
Read: interview.

Another amandla sista that is inspired by Biko. Thandiswa calls Biko, among others, a qhawe (A hero) in the haunting melody "Nizalwa Ngobani" (Who gave birth to you?/Do you know where you come from?) from her critically-acclaimed debut Zabalaza. She says ‘the world changes, revolutionists die and our children forget…are the beautiful ones really dead? Read Interview and Read Ibokwe CD review.

David John Matthews Is a South African now naturalized American. He's the lead vocalist and guitarist of the Dave Matthews Band and wrote the song "Cry Freedom" in honor of Biko. Great to know that some expats never forget their roots! Big up to that Dave!
Watch: DMB live video. Read: 2009 Interview and Big Whiskey CD review.

Johnny Mbizo Dyani 
The late, great Blue Note South African bassist, composer and bandleader found inspiration in Biko's black consciousness, recording an album Song for Biko with a composition of the same name while in exile.

Peter Gabriel  
Tells the tale of Biko in his third self-titled album Peter Gabriel (III) aka Melt in 1980. He says, "you can blow out a candle/But you can’t blow out a fire / Once the flames begin to catch/ the wind will blow higher". During the apartheid era, Gabriel was known to close his concerts with a heartfelt version of this song, encouraging the crowd to sing along. It’s a song that’s been covered by an array of artists, including; American folk singer, Joan Baez, Scottish rock band, Simple Minds, Scottish rock musician; Ray Wilson and Cameroonian saxophonist and vibraphone player; Manu Dibango. Watch Gabriel's live video here.

Simple Minds  
Dedicated a song to Steve Biko on their 1989 album Street Fighting Years simply called "Biko". They also performed the song with Peter Gabriel at Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday concert at Wembley back in 1988. There's nothing simple about these rockers! Watch video.

Wyclef Jean  
In the song "Diallo" from his 2000 The Ecleftic: Both sides of the book, draws parallels between the 1999 shooting of an African immigrant by New York police and the murder of Bantu Biko. Wyclef says "Have you ever died only so you can live? Diallo, Diallo - similar to Steven Biko/Diallo, Diallo - you told me the murder was an error…". Eish Wyclef! This is one of the reasons why this hip-hop cat and former Fugees member is still in the game. And was made a roving ambassador for Haiti by Haitian president Rene Preval, earlier this year to improve its image abroad. Big up! Watch: listen.

A Tribe Called Quest 
Is a critically acclaimed and socially conscious hip-hop group that’s also regarded as the pioneers of alternative rap. In their 1993 album Midnight Maraudes they featured the song "Steve Biko (Stir it up)".
Watch: live video.

Dead Prez  
AKA Dead Presidents is a critically acclaimed underground hip-hop duo known for their politically active lyrics. They make a reference to Biko in a track titled "I'm an African" on their 2000 album, Let's Get Free. Yes people still need to free their minds to this day! So listen up everyone!

Saul Williams 
Well known for for his blend of spoken word poetry and hip-hop he speaks of Biko in the song "Coded Language" in his 2001 Amethyst rock star album. Williams is a potent lyricist and the Mzansi spoken word world couldn’t get enough of him when he graced our Urban Voices Spoken word festival a few years ago.
Check his website out

Dilated Peoples 
They name Steve Biko in their song "Expansion Team Theme" with the lyrics, "Pressin' heights Pico, live like Steve Biko" on the Expansion Team LP.

Tom Paxton  
Released the song, "The death of Stephen Biko" just a year after Biko’s death (1978) on his album Heroes. Yes folks, Biko was and still is the man!
Watch: listen.

Christy Moore
Irish folk singer and guitarist sang a song called "Biko's drum" that makes several references to the South African struggle hero. And the beat still goes on!
Check his website out

Beenie Man
Is one of the most popular and established reggae and dancehall artists. His 1998 album Many Moods of Moses has a track dedicated to Biko also titled "Steve Biko". Mo' fire!! Check his website out

Steel Pulse
Black consciousness fuelled the iery fire of this UK-based roots reggae trio who released the song "Biko's Kindred Lament" on their 1979 album Tribute to the Martyrs.

Dirty District
AKA Great Gangsters From The Dirty District are an eclectic band from France that fuses punk rock, reggae, rap and metal. They have a song based on the murder of Steve Biko, titled "Steve Biko". Rock on Biko!

Banda Bassoti
The Italian ska-punk band speak of Biko in their song "Figli de la Sressa Rabbia" on the album with the same title.

This Californian original roots reggae band sang about "the words of Bantu Biko (oh man de were) Filling up our heads with visions" in their song "Silver tongue show". Watch: live video.

"You're either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you're dead, you can’t care anyway" - On Death, I Write What I Like, 1978

Biko may be dead but even after his death his words and his spirit lives on. He "truly died to be alive". The music goes on…and Biko's spirit lives on!

Stephen Bantu Biko died on September 12, 1977. He was 30 years old. In the 32 years since his death, monuments, bridges and statues have been erected in his honour. He's been praised in films, theatre, television and literature. The man's even become a fashion icon in Mzansi with t-shirts bearing his image on sale at flea markets and exclusive upmarket boutiques nationwide. We take a look at how Biko lives on in song from Jozi to Jamaica and from maskandi and rock to rap and beyond.
Read more on:    steve biko

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