Guyana Diaspora

'89 percent of Guyana 's graduate population live and work in the 30 relatively rich countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) -"Fruit that falls far from the tree",
The Economist, 03 November 2005'

It is estimated that there are as many Guyanese living overseas as they are in Guyana
They are spread out far and wide to almost every country on the planet
This blog was created to chronicle the news and and stories of the Diaspora

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Brothers blend beats in the Bronx

Both brothers’ voices are tailor-fit: Trevor was in Guyana until he was 10 and retained the lilting cadence of the Caribbean, while Roy-LT developed a gritty, streetwise Bronx accent. The contrast adds texture to music that Trevor calls spiritual.

As a 10-year-old in Guyana, Trevor Brisport jammed to Bob Marley and the Wailers and wanted to play reggae. A few years later in Baychester, NY. , his little brother jammed to DJ Whodini’s "Five Minutes of Funk" and wanted to be a rapper.

The brothers—Trevor, 29, and Roy-LT, 23—emigrated from Guyana in 1980, part of a flood of immigrants that brought the freewheeling style of the reggae-soaked Caribbean to the Bronx, where funk and soul reigned. The collision of those worlds helped midwife the birth of hip hop.

And as these brothers’ musical journey has shown, aftershocks from that collision continue to animate the borough’s music scene today.

Last year, along with a third brother and a friend, they recorded an album titled "Music," with Trevor as the bandleader, and released it on CD and vinyl. Now based near Pelham Parkway, the group has a video, a web site, and airtime on two FM shows.

Recently, they played at AJ’s Palace on 222nd Street and the New Savoy on Jerome Avenue, featuring tracks from "Music," where Trevor’s classic reggae vocals laid the foundation for rap incursions.

Both brothers’ voices are tailor-fit: Trevor was in Guyana until he was 10 and retained the lilting cadence of the Caribbean, while Roy-LT developed a gritty, streetwise Bronx accent. The contrast adds texture to music that Trevor calls spiritual.

"We want our music to inspire," Trevor said, noting that their most spiritual song, "No God No Peace," is one of their most popular.

In the song, he wails to a standard reggae beat: "Nowadays they forget the right and do the wrong, but they all end up singing sad songs."

The beat slows, the drums roll, and it’s Roy-LT’s turn. His voice is sure-talk, deep and loud. "No God no peace," he begins to rap. "If you walk in the light, your spirit’s at ease."

When Roy-LT stops, Trevor takes over, hitting a high note and then going down the scale as the mellow reggae beat resumes—the beat he has always heard pulsing, first in Guyana and then on Bronx street-corners.

In the early 1980s Trevor was infected by the DJ fever, and abandoned the drums for turntables, mixing reggae and rap tracks on tapes he gave to friends in Baychester.

"People were telling me they were feeling it, so I kept doing it," he said.
The microphone always came first for Roy-LT. While Trevor mixed his tapes, Roy-LT honed his improvisational rhyming skills in freestyle rapping competitions. Soon, he was rapping on the tapes. When

Trevor saved enough money, they decided to record an album.

Playing the role of a concerned parent trying to negotiate between estranged siblings, Trevor brings reggae and hip hop together into a guarded dance on "Music."

"Back in the day," he said, "All those DJs—Slick Rick, Heavy-D—were using reggae beats. They just stripped away the guitars and then sped it up or slowed it."

Kool Herc, a Jamaican DJ who traded Kingston for the Bronx in 1967, had paved the way. The first to make records dance on turntables, he brought eclectic sound techniques that changed the nature of music in the United States. Meanwhile, classic reggae was being eclipsed by dance hall, a form that took hip hop’s aggressive rhythms and lyrics.

For Trevor, the 1970s and early 1980s were an untarnished golden era, a time when hip hop was "for real," and not about "bitches and whores and shooting places up." It was a time when Bob Marley’s socially conscious brand of reggae was telling the world to stand up.

"That was our intention from day one, to bring all the music back together from the beginning," Trevor said last week, explaining the new CD.

Strolling down Allerton Avenue, Trevor agreed that cultural reggae was waning and that violent lyrics often sold records. But he argued the group’s new CD was a unique product ennobled by the absence of "all that slackness"—a common Guyanese reference to irresponsibility.

"Rather than mix things up, we want to clarify," said Roy-LT.

Sometimes the rhyming attempts to clarify many things at once.

"My bills are so many I buy time on lay away," raps Roy-LT on one track, and the listener, absorbed in the line’s elegant presentation of everyday struggle, misses the next line, and has to rewind.

From The Bronx Beat

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