Greetings Malawi! This is Kenyatta Hill from the group Culture. Guess what, on the 2nd and the 3rd June I will be there with the full group. And guess what, it’s gonna be an enchanting evening of reggae music…”
These are words of Kenyatta Hill, raggae ace, the son of the legendary Jamaican Joseph Hill of the outfit Culture announcing his concerts at Mibawa Multipurpose Hall in Blantyre tonight and June 3 at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe tomorrow.
Kenyatta is a reggae wonder whose career emerged the day his father died. He instantly adopted the name ‘Junior Culture’.
His father, who was the heart and soul and songwriter of the Jamaican vocal trio, Culture, collapsed and died in Berlin, Germany while on a 2006 tour of Europe. To the amazement of the whole world ,Kenyatta—then the band’s sound engineer —stepped on stage and delivered exhilarating displays for the 19 remaining shows until his father’s scheduled tour was complete.
“And this was unheard of in any genre of music at any time,” states Fast Lane International, an entertainment website.
Most Malawians would still want to judge Kenyatta based on his father’s legacy but he appears to be a true musical son of his father. His albums, including Live On: Tribute to Culture that he released after the death of his father.
Before the album, his debut single titled Daddy was backed by musicians likes of Sly Dunbar and Dean Fraser and Fast Lane International observes, he confronted the emotional pain and uncertainty he felt after the loss of his father in this track.
“He cried while he wrote, just as audiences in Europe had cried while he sang,” the website states.
Malawians familiar with Culture and Joseph Hill’s vocals thought they had lost an opportunity to ever listen to Hill’s solidly roots reggae executed in his unique fashion.
The son might not have the father’s pure dedication to the long-established Rastafarian values of purity, simplicity and justice as evidenced by his and the group’s lyrical themes, but he has, this far, ably carried on the mission.
The Culture website indicates that Joseph Hill began his professional recording career in 1972 with the single Behold. By 1976, Joseph and his cousin Albert Walker had formed a trio whose name evolved into Culture with the release of the mythic Two Sevens Clash.
It also notes that Hill performed solo under the name Culture and recorded several projects during the early eighties; he and Albert subsequently reunited and produced a long series of critically acclaimed recordings.
Now, going by the recorded performances, Kenyatta has ably performed everything from Culture’s entire body of work of over 28 albums.
In the video signalling his coming to the Malawi fans, Kenyatta plays one of his father’s hit tracks One Stone and promises fireworks.
Although his albums show that the young Hill is being influenced by elements of dancehall grounded in the roots tradition, the drive to carry on his father’s work cannot be mistaken.
Reports show that Kenyatta is set to writing and finishing songs that Joseph had started -and he is creating new music of his own.
What this means is that the Malawi audience is set to sample Culture in both the form of Joseph Hill and his son Kenyatta.
Kenyatta now boasts three albums to his name . They include Riddim Of Life (Honest Music) a third one that features members of the famed Roots Radics Band, Culture backing band, and Thievery Corporation’s reggae outfit, The Archives.
The concerts in Lilongwe and Blantyre falls within the world tour with original members of the group as well as solo performances to mark the 40th anniversary of Culture classic album Two Sevens Clash.
As a solo artist, Kenyatta performed in Washington, D.C. at National Cannabis Fest on April 22 followed with two more performances in the month of May, one, a Roots show at Halmstad, and another, a Bob Marley Memorial concert at Fest Skärblacka, both in Sweden.
This weekend’s shows are coming as Culture featuring Kenyatta Hill after his solo performance. From Malawi, Culture and Kenyatta will head to Bar Opiniao in Porto Alegre in Brazil on June 29 before performing at Auditorio Sur and La Trastienda Club in Buenos Aires in Argentina the following day and at other venues in two subsequent dates. n