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The Rich Are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives

by Anthony Joseph

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reginaelectric Perfect soundtrack for cycling through the city at night, especially Hamburg's night district, so strangely sleepy at theses Corona times. Such a pleasure to have Anthony's voice filling the streets with stories and the sax bringing back distorted yet joyful life.
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dgravesftw All the tracks are great, but the final track is so personal, simultaneously mourning and grateful, that it hits deep every time I listen to it. Favorite track: The Gift.
brother imhotep
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brother imhotep Wow.
Powerful prose.
Precise percussions.
Melodically mature.

Reminiscent of Peter Tosh, Black Thought, and Gil Scott talking that talk in the back of a London speakeasy.

Vintage and visionary. Favorite track: Kamau.
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  • LP 180g - Limited Edition w/ 8-page Booklet
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Kamau 08:39
For Kamau For the furtive sound of his phonaesthetic exegesis For his secret technology, his liquid textolgy, the seppy Pure energy Seducing the ear, Lancing the plane of sight And if vision is righteous and holy and pure Then Baba Kamau was the sonic sage The one who never kept silent The one who never wear necktie yet The one who never wept in pews, who Wove beads of triplet notes With the trumpet in his throat - the infinite muse - a bad and contagious poet! Perceptible only in a glance Emerging Dressed in black Much blacker than black Surrealist conflict And I’ve been a black surrealist Ever since I saw my grandfather chuck the wheel Of his Austin Cambridge With a rock so it don’t roll down hill And simple to the sea Because iron don’t float Since I ran between vine and root Leapt over the wire Where the land rushed wild to the sea Picked the fruit Still warm from the vine I hid in the trees So much hairy snake and picka bush Was tying up the land But strong poems still found me Between the leaves Come on, flash your costume Flash your rage, poet Play sailor mas Play jab jab Play junkanoo Play rukatuk music Play with fife and bones And fiddle and flute Play mojo jumbie Dance the juba With the hands akimbo Play stick man An’ bus’ they carapace Play mud mas Plot your root Piss blood Piss rum Wear the brazen breastplate And the burnt wooden mask From the Upper Volta Wear pins in the mouth Like the tailor carving a map of Africa On the corner of your island Play kaiso Play calypso Play socalypso Play rapso Play jazz, like a second skin Reel you in, reel you in, reel you in I carried my black surrealist manifesto Between elbows Like fetish to poison wounds In the bronze plateau of the Congo Read me in, read me in Brooklyn warehouse space Bo running water, no hot heat, no light But Fanon, Fanon, Fanon, Fanon Read me in, read you in I read you in every squall and bawl of the hurricane Write this in the distance Write this on the wind Write this on the waves Write this in cowpasture In fragments Under islands Write this in each trace of diaspora, In each stone that skims from Africa Blooming into Islands! islands! Islands! Islands! — O Baba O — May you return if possible As a grey bearded afronaut Emerge again As a secret colour As prophet Emerge again - deep teacher, as wizard As hawk or black bird As if you fell from the stars As if you emerged from the rainforest Whole — Oh Baba O — Come on, swing your horn Swing your horn and flash your second skin Flail and flash your colour Omen, omen of jumbie See-er man, obeah man Obeah man who can make remote vision of people with psycho-spiritual camera, then the next day tell you exactly what you was wearing, what bone you was chewing at your kitchen table the night before Surrealist since black, behind god’s back Come on, cast speaking serpents out Flash your beacon, be bold, be something else! And on the first day, on the first day of the first week of the first month after your death I come with real, real, real, real, real real fire this year Oil does not dry on the tip of his tongue, nor honey on the tips of his fingers
Black and been here since 1949 West London jaw grind, ‘Tek it easy’ We saw him, you saw him Walking along the canal last night And what a joy to buck up upon him At the carnival today To hear him speak about The dances and the bands At the Paramount The spots you couldn’t mix With white in, or dance in Remembering… London How he been slapped so hard With the lash - Sam Selvon say And it take him 60 years Before he could call England ‘Home’ He musta come here in black and white, 1959 Time longer than twine So long ago he don’t Remember being a child, Just a suit and steamer trunk Upon a ship which took A good six weeks to cross We sat at his kitchen table And I filmed him on the fly But he wasn’t saying much At least nothing I could put in a poem Instead he showed me Photographs - with the dashiki and the fez With Michael X at the Ambience Outside the night came in And he had moved so far away From calling England ‘Home ’ I’ve lived here longer than home, since 1989 Remember Harlesden in the spring time I used to walk from Cricklewood To Marylebone High Street To cut up meat to punch out dough I was never asked to wait tables Or to serve scones and coffee I worked in the basement But I learned to tie my apron In a way that retained some dignity And in my first summer above the corner shop I listened to rare groove on pirate radio I was flung so far from any notion of nation How long do you have to live in a place Before you can call it ‘Home?’
Maka Dimweh 06:45
Maka Dimweh was a soldier In the Guyanese army Get send up to Jim Jones territory To clean up corpses Notorious in the news, when the mark bust Was the tent and the altar, the barrel And the upturned mouths of the faithful In that camp nation: poison But up there in them jungle Had money to find Good US currency These army man find Men find money All under rock stone an’ tootoo Money dash ‘way like toilet paper 'Well, Honey, I am bound to go These people don’t need money Where they goin ’ Fellas find money wrap up in kerchief and socks Dead people money Jaw grind pornography And jewels: gold and white pearl, ruby, lapis lazuli Men find keys for motorcar park up quite in America Like bush meat the immigrant want eat But can’t bring back from dream But no matter what trick get try Or which hole they fold it in That same Maka Dimweh He woulda find it anywhere Big bad Maka Dimweh He find it anywhere Maka watch his best friend Bodhi get rip out By a cutlass coming back from fishing And fall on the slippery rocks above the bay Capsize and enter between the ribbing Rip out his particulars, and the boy body beat-up Till his liver get frighten, till his bile spill out Like the white milk of egg and the scent Was of snakes in the garden after the rain Eyes wide open and rolling around the skull Turn back an’ come again Rock back an’ turn back And kick back and come again Rain falling on the sea, fish falling out the bucket And since that day, since that day Maka coulda never eat no meat That same Maka Dimweh, Maka-Maka Dimweh Big bad Maka Dimweh Oh gosh man! Hear the vision Maka run Florida, catch jail for DUI Maka gone Brooklyn, he in the jungle now Maka bust a man chest in New York And get five more years in Uncle Sam jail That same Maka Dimweh, Maka-Maka Dimweh! Rock back an’ come again…
Something about how we have names for everything now How each leaf has its place at the shaded side of the river The dark dirt under the cocoa onion has a name For that kind of soil The soft cup of scales Forming the echeveria has a name, the way it folds The filament in the light of the firefly - the wick, the tail Has a name: luciferin, in the production of light Water in the knee and it has a name - meniscus - effusion Which is really a form of liquid textology Dividing the meat into chunk and gill Once, there were still unseen places and things Corners of experience which had no name And so you could walk upon them And meet them solid for the first time Be dubwise and dread and hail them up And bump locks head Dread And my grandmother said that if the flying frog leapt And landed on your face or the soft fold of your arm That it would stay there Attach itself as if with glue And you would have to iron or steam steel - heat - impress Upon the frog-back skin till it stick to the stainless heat Until it release, an’ peel off We returned from country visits, from visiting kin in churches Hid in bush to find flying frogs perched in corners of the house Trapped in their silence of peace I never saw their leap But I seen what hurricanes could do to islands I seen it on TV and it had a name Nigropalmatus Hylidae Rhacophorus - fringe-limbed or marvellous Ecnomiohyla Polypedates - in the calabash tree My cousin Alvin and the hillside where bananas are grown from seed This place has a dance, and it has a name Even vinegar has a seed We were wild, we were wild children We had names with which we moved through space like blades It is language which calls all things to creation And language is the origin of the world The word Was the great mass of a black star exploding It was the beat of a drum The vibration of the body Was to bear the boom, the thrust into breath, and breath Into fire and fire into rain and rain onto ocean And ocean onto shore and shore upon rivers And rivers upon land and rivers which pierced each region With vines and veins and vitamins A great storm was coming The earth would shake It would tumble, it would break Each flash of lightning Was a blade flung against temptation But our little house would withstand it all It would not fail, it would not fall Language Language We held still Within the great torrents of rain Peering into the beginning of the world It was language which formed nations And decolonised our minds A new language Rooted deep in the resonance of the drum Rooted down down into the centre Root strata - in every beat and bell In every scope of feeling Like wind in the arc of the horn In the cry of the horn It was language which freed us from ourselves Language Language Maculate The dirty bone Intractable Unnameable Language, language Fluctuant Leviathan A molecule A homecoming A people who And the hauteur And the halter back of cousin Maria -1978, 1982 The brightness of the image Remaining in the photograph Space The interstice (of loss) Between canvas and paint
Swing Praxis In which considering the lack Of a truly beautiful, violent revolution We establish ourselves as mediums for change Change which must accumulate Yo maximum impact and speed Like rhythm And rhythm Is a unit of meaning Of feeling Of being And there are ways To withstand sustained conflict But guns are the teeth of democracy Swing praxis We must not easily be possessed By what is just the crudest element of a given plan Either we vote or protest or tremble or march or fight But either way it will soon be hard to be ‘cool’ And black at the same time Swing praxis It is self-evident That we stand at the edge of a great victory Of which we are confident That we have been wounded in battle But it’s too late to be hurt It’s too late to turn back now! So go on, go on, bring fire music With harmonic cycles of hymn rhythm And we will navigate the fear of death Go deep in the jungles of deceit and concrete And see how we are murdered on these streets Or be real and go back to the old country Go down in the valley and see how my people have built Such beautyfull homes in the dirt See how only secular sound and the mutability And resilience of black spirit duality Can liberate them From history Swing praxis Come with the hard bop And catch the vision Jazz is a river of vigorous spirits Come like Lightning Hopkins With the Akpala hip shake Come and dance the Juba With the kick and step And the arms akimbo Swing As method As action As rubric As heritage As a black and combative orchestra With terrible bees And whistles and teeth Swing praxis Swing praxis Swing as method Swing as a template for revolution
The Gift 04:44
This was after we had buried my father In the soft earth of the Santa Cruz valley That same graveyard on the hill Where our whole clan Will eventually be replanted And we swung dirges in the midday As the shepherd and his flock Dealt with my father, they had placed White flowers around his neck But oh, when that first dirt dash the casket lid No amount of ritual can protect you From that sound - when it hits We lit candles upon the tumulus Of dirt which lay heavy upon him Heavier than when I pressed his breastbone in the chapel While outside, beyond the farmlands , deep in the country The river continued to run, not knowing That my father had died And we waited until he was Well settled in the dirt before we left And back at the house I started rapping With the cousin with the long-long dread That wrap up in a scroll - the one with the biblical name The one who say he don’t communicate by computer This was when we were standing at the gate Ready to leave that house of mourning This was after the jewel bag get bring out And my brother and I had to choose which as heirlooms The silver ring with the raised initials of his name But he laughed and he never told me what those letters spelled When I asked him in 1978 See me walking the yard Hip in my English waistcoat Tall in the saddle like big scissors cutting And Mama D, Mama D Who also loved him, and who could tell you the names Of all his children, even those he forgot She was saying, Look, look how you end up where you is When things coulda been so different Well is all them prayers and benediction Your people put on you Coming down through generation The hope was you Is the asafoetida the ol’ lady burn All the pray she pay till her knees burst open And all those orisons must have conjured some power Till her love became a chant to kill death A fetish to protect you on this journey We may live and die, but what is between is ours to keep She gave what she had.


British-Trinidadian poet/musician/author Anthony Joseph’s latest album contains multitudes. Operating as a dedication to poetic ancestors and a coming together of musical generations, The Rich are Only Defeated When Running for their Lives is also an almighty jam. Recorded live last August, it shows off the prowess of a team of master musicians (Shabaka Hutchings among others) from Paris and London. Jason Yarde, who also produced Joseph’s 2018 album is credited as producer/composer/arranger – to startling, albeit intimate, effect.

Running throughout the release are inter-connected themes: memory, place, belonging and acts of homage. Opener, “Kamau” pays respect to the lauded Barbadian poet, Kamau Brathwaite who passed away in February last year. Brathwaite was an important influence on Joseph – the two writers met several times. On “Kamau” Joseph compellingly conveys not only the nature of Brathwaite’s aesthetic, but the full potential of a Black surrealist poetics, in an urgent, clipped diction against a rousing musical soundtrack which features Hutchings on bass clarinet.
When asked to convey the essence of Brathwaite’s “energy” in a 2018 interview, Joseph used the words “audacious … muscular,” while also noting the late poet’s capacity to “give voice to the voiceless.” A similar description might be used for Joseph’s new album, in its evocation of the post Windrush generations’ search for belonging — a story that soon becomes Joseph’s own (“Calling England Home”), in the recounting of familial grief (“The Gift”) and in the expansive grooves and storytelling on “Maka Dimweh”, a poem/song that universalises the tale of a Guyanese soldier.
One of the album’s most striking cuts, “Language (Poem for Anthony McNeill) once more memorialises another key figure in the Caribbean literary landscape: McNeill, a Jamaican poet known for his radical modernist aesthetic, deeply influenced by jazz, who died before his time in 1996. The 10-minute plus groove shows the band to full effect, as Joseph compellingly conjures something of McNeill’s gift and the potential of “language rooted in the drums…the cry of the horn.”

In fact, the entire album might be understood as part of Joseph’s engagement with his Caribbean musical and literary roots; the somewhat mysterious album title, for instance, comes from the Trinidadian writer, philosopher, historian and socialist activist, C.L.R James’ book on the Haitian revolution, The Black Jacobins (1938).

To Yarde and Joseph’s credit the musicianship never falters, even when conjuring deeply contrasting moods. See, for instance, the foregrounding of a formidable horn section of top-level saxophonists of very different aesthetic stripes (Hutchings, Yarde, Colin Webster – a longstanding Joseph collaborator and Denys Baptiste, whose credits include McCoy Tyner and Billy Higgins). “Calling England Home,” for example, is carried along by a sleepily evocative 60s horn-driven dancehall ambience, entirely in keeping with the song’s lyrical focus.
Note too, Rod Youngs’ sensitive drum parts, which coalesces to great effect with Andrew John’s bass throughout the album. Youngs is a previous Gil Scott-Heron collaborator, while London-based bassist and composer John has played on six of Joseph’s previous albums. Guitarist Thibaut Remy, who composed ‘Calling England Home’, performs with the Awalé Jant Band. There are the fragile interruptions of French jazz pianist, Florian Pellissier, while contributions from veteran percussionists Roger Raspail and Crispin Robinson provide further grit, delicacy and depth.


released May 7, 2021

Anthony Joseph - Vocals
Andrew John - Bass
Thibaut Remy - Guitar
Rod Youngs - Drums
Florian Pellissier - Piano/Moog/Organ/Rhodes Piano
Jason Yarde - Alto & Baritone Saxophone
Shabaka Hutchings - Tenor Saxophone on ‘Swing Praxis’/Bass clarinet on ‘Kamau’
Denys Baptiste - Tenor Saxophone & Bass Clarinet on ‘Language’, Tenor Sax on ‘Maka Dimweh’ & ‘The Gift’
Colin Webster - Tenor Saxophone on ‘Kamau’ & Swing Praxis’, Baritone Sax on ‘Language’
Crispin Robinson - Bata Drums and Percussion
Roger Raspail - Percussion on ‘Maka Dimweh’

Produced by Jason Yarde

All arrangements by Jason Yarde except ‘The Gift’ - arranged by Andrew John & ‘Calling England Home’ arranged by Thibaut Remy, both with additional arrangements by Mr Yarde
Album engineered and mixed by Jordan Kouby
Recorded at Livingston Studios, (London), August 2020
Additional recording at Total Refreshment Center, London & Question De Son, Paris
Mastered by Mickaël Rangeard at Question De Son
Executive Producer: Franck Descollonges
Photography by Bunny Bread / @icreatenotdestroy
Design & Artwork: Jean-Louis Duralek

℗ © 2021 Heavenly Sweetness


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Anthony Joseph Trinidad and Tobago

Anthony Joseph is a poet, novelist, musician and lecturer described as ‘the leader of the black avant-garde in Britain’. His written work and performance occupies a space between surrealism, Jazz and the rhythms of Caribbean speech and music.


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