How Prof-I brings nyabinghi to the 21st century
It's been decades since we've heard a proper, authentic nyahbinghi album, with a delicate African touch on top of that. It's also the first time female rasta drummers are represented, 'Empresses' as Prof-I prefers to call them, equal to man in every aspect of life. For these reasons and many more 'Iyahbinghi Redemption' truly is a unique album.
Barrington Andrew ‘Prof-I’ Reynolds is a rastaman from creation. He started chanting nyabinghi in 1967 when he went to Back-A-Wall (now Tivoli Gardens) with his brethren I-Leck. Prof-I soon realized he was a natural chanter and drummer. Since then he has participated in numerous events celebrating rastafari and nyahbinghi: One Love Peace Concert 1977, Ethiopian Liberation Day, His Majesty’s Earthday, His Majesty’s Coronation Day, Ethiopian Christmas… He performed with most of the original nyahbinghi warriors: Black Heart, Iverton, Priest I, Bongo Shorty and Mother Fire, Bongo Rocky and Daughter Baby I, Daughter Miriam, Daughter Yanzy, Irie Irons, George Irons, Istan, Iqula, Shedrach, Mishrach and Abednego, Historian, Mortimo Plano, The Great Ketty Man (Pa-Shanti), Ma Shanti, Bongo Daniel (The Bans Master and Ketty Man), Prince, Sam Brown, Solomon Wolfe, Ras Pidow, Bongo Tani, Bongo Watto, Bongo Isaac, Bongo Bash, Bongo Joe, Bongo Lenny, Bongo Tony, Bongo Hugh, Bongo Shorty (from Montego Bay) Bongo Gabby, and many other binghi brethren and sistren.
Nyabinghi is rastafari from creation, rooted in ancient humanity, dedicated to His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I. Nyabinghi is reggae music from creation, chants of praise and glory to the Most High, played on bass, funde and kette (repeater) drums. It is the rhythm of the heart, and the wisdom therein.
Nyabinghi recordings are very rare. The legendary Count Ossie & Mystic Revelation of Rastafari recorded two classic albums in the seventies. Light of Saba and Cedric Brooks created some great work. Ras Michael & Sons of Negus crossed over to reggae without losing the soul and true inspiration of nyahbinghi. Rastafari Elders brought their authentic music and stories to the United States. Keith Richards presented to us his Wingless Angels.
Prof-I & Iyahbinghi brings nyahbinghi to the 21st century, with new songs and chants, introducing sister drummers, a token of his deep love and respect for women in general and Empress Menen in particular.
‘I have seen His Majesty when he come to Jamaica in 1966. In the flesh. There are many branches of the ancient indigenous order which is nyahbinghi, but nyahbinghi is the foundation, the original grounation. Nyabinghi is the chant, it is the prayer. As long as you say rastafari, you say nyahbinghi. It have no creed, it have no race, it have no organization. I & I give thanks to Haile Selassie through nyabinghi.’
‘Give thanks, rastafari. When I speak of the livity, first is how you eat. If you don’t eat right, you can not live right. What you eat is what you is. Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food. You can not be rastafari and eat everything that is out there, with its poison. When you say rastafari, you have to let go the things of the world. The things you used to eat, you eat them no more. How can we say we are rastafari and that we are defending life if we are killing and eating? Let the fish live. The fish is made to keep the sea clean. The fish is the biggest garbage truck. Let the fowl liven which they call chicken. The cow. How can you take a life to save life? So, when you say rastafari you have to eat the green herbs for meat. I & I have to eat from the earth. One I was a baby and I only eat from my mother’s breast. Now I’ve become a man I eat from the earth which is my mother.’
‘Haile Selassie is my father and the earth is my mother which I suck from and I eat from. You can not be eating anything that the enemy has created to destroy you. When I first sight the rastafari livity, it’s the food that bring me to this livity. The food was my test. We burn shops, we don’t need shops, because we eat from the earth. We stop using money. We don’t need money that food buy. We go to the jungle to look for our food. We survive with the nature, with fruits and vegetables. And that’s what brings us closer to the king, because of that ancient, spiritual levity. We have let go of all the things of Babylon and decided to live the ancient way.’
‘The livity of rastafari is an ancient livity. So when you say rastafari you have to live that ancient life. You can’t put on locks and say you are rastafari while eating the same things, drinking the same things, doing the same things. You haffi born again! You don’t have to die to born again. You just change your livity.’
‘Mi fling mi pot, spoon, knife, fork and we only eat from the tree. So since 40 odd years I’ve been living this I-tural life, and yet I have been through a lot of tribulation. Car accident, couldn’t walk for years. But the I-tural living bring us forward, and the power of Emperor Haile Selassie I.’
‘To be rastafari you have to eat right and live right. That’s the livity. You have all those famous singers, making money, driving big cars. But how many of them are really living for the people? How many of them really care for the earth? A lot of them get weak along the way. Give thanks for the strong ones. Rastafari.’’
‘I’ve been through a lot of stages in rastafari. Haile Selassie said we must learn to accept changes. We have seen a lot of stages within I & I trod. So I & I is in the world but not of the world. The computer, tell-I-vison, technology: all these things come in place. Babylon has created these things for its own benefit but we see that it work for I & I also. A lot of people don’t want to hear about rastafari, don’t like rastafari, but then they turn on the radio and they hear ‘Rastafari!’ They turn on the the tv and there is rastafari, in their own house. They can not escape it. All these people who used to fight against rasta and say rasta are the worst in creation, that rasta are the blasphemer, their best son and their best daughter is rastafari today.’
‘The money is the devil. If you can not control the money you can not control yourself. Any fool can make money but it take a wise man to spend it and to keep it.’
‘Fire bun! Everyone that see anyone outside of Emperor Haile Selassie, even his own offspring: death and destruction. ‘Cause there’s no other, non before Him, non after Him to come. Emperor Haile Selassie I live for I-ver. No other king can come greater than the greatest man that ever walked the surface of the earth. Dem people is not rastafari. Dem don’t know who the King is. Dem don’t know where the King is. I & I know where the King is, because Emperor Haile Selassie I live within I & I. He is seated within I & I. They say man who can not die will seat within the Ark of the Covenant. If you want to see His Majesty, go where the Ark of the Covenant is.’
‘There is no other home for I than Ethiopia, where my father come to the flesh. It could be ruled by nyah men tiger, gun man or beast – it don’t matter. I & I fatherland can not be conquered. Even though I & I is in the west, Emperor Haile Selassie I mek I & I is here to free the people. But I & I can not go to Ethiopia without a plan. To strengthen the people, to uplift the people, not like we are some tourist or some guest. I & I have been out here with a different education, different ways of living. Will these people accept us? Do they know that I & I is coming through the ancient Ethiopian livity? So I & I have to go there and show them the love, because even if they live there, they don’t know who the King is.’
‘We have to go there and work with the people, plant coconut tree, and banana tree, feed the people of Ethiopia. Without the people we can not do nothing, and the voice of the people is the voice of the Almighty. We don’t have to go there to drive expensive cars and live in a marble tile hotel, to build fences and make boundaries and to set up different organizations. How can we go to Ethiopia and set up an organization named Jamaica? Jamaica is a dot on the map, Ethiopia is the highest region.’
‘We are not beggars, we are not losers, we are not wanters. We don’t want anything ‘cause we have the King.’
‘If man fear to do I work, wood and stone will do it. And the wood and stone is reggae music. But even the great Bob Marley call himself a nyahbinghi man. Nyahbinghi is the heartbeat. That is where reggae music originate. A lot of people would say Marcus Garvey is their prophet. I & I would say Bob Marley is my prophet. Bob Marley go out there and say Emperor Haile Selassie I without any apology, without any fear, without any doubt. I’ve never heard Marcus Garvey say that. Marcus Garvey come for a black government, Bob Marley come for the world. He is the one that establish rastafari around the world through reggae music. Emperor Haile Selassie use him as a vessel. He could have called it nyahbinghi music but nyahbinghi is a spiritual order. Maybe Bob himself don’t even know what he say, because he was used by the King to establish rastafari. Bob Marley wasn’t in it for the money, he never want it and he never have no use for it. A lot of the reggae singers didn’t get the call, they are just followers. Reggae music open the eyes of millions of people but too many people want to get rich and create all kind of animosity.’
‘Iyahbhinghi Redemption is a nyabhinghi album but even I am scared to use the word nyahbingghi. When I’m in the tabernacle chanting and playing the drums, I feel that I-ritical power. I never have that feeling in the studio. I can not chant like that in the studio because the destruction of the mic alone, the destruction of the studio time to fix this or to fix that, you can not get a 100% nyahbinghi. As I realize this making the album I make it a crossover between nyahbinghi and African music. Nyabinghi is coming out of Africa. Since I & I plan to go back home, I make it a crossover. If you want to call it African, you can call it African. If you want to call it nyahbinghi, you can call it nyahbinghi. I call it an I-ritical chant, something to open the eyes of the people. So that they don’t just accept rastafari but that they can see rastafari and show rastafari the respect it deserves.’
‘I & I know now is harvest time. I have seen so much weakness within the movement. The more Babylon put on the pressure, the more tears and moaning. But I & I rejoice cause I & I bun Babylon and dem dutty material ways. Through nyahbinghi. I chant to live. I give ises to the King to live. I do all good things to the world to live. Good will always come over evil.’
‘We are not here to recruit people or to beg people to come into rastafari or to become rastafari. That’s we have so much followers and imposters. That’s why we have so many people talking about rastafari like they’re talking about their friend. No! We are not Christian, we are not muslim, we are not from some organization. We are some of the I-ritical people and we are not here to teach the people that rastafari is right and to tell them that they should be rastafari. No! All these chosen people are already chosen.’
‘There’s no style in rastafari, ‘cause every style spoil after a while. Where ever you see two men wearing their locks the same way, wearing their beard the same way, dem is not rasta. But who is I to tell dem dem is no rasta? I only have to speak of I self and how I see rastafari. Whenever I say rastafari, it’s about a way of life. Man create difference within himself. It’s one rastafari, it’s one Haile Selassie, it’s one livity and that livity come to one love.’
‘Haile Selassie has predicted and explained certain things in creation to prove that he is the Almighty. Some people will see Him through the bible, some people will see Him through reading and writing. But the first set of rasta people that rise up could not read or write. Never meet the man, never know anything about the man. They get that spiritual call because they come from the lineage of the I-rator. Emperor Haile Sel assie reveal himself in the flesh in this time. Him never reveal himself through Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with Jesus Christ or the bible. The bible was written 2000 years ago but the history of Ethiopia and of His Majesty is much older than that. I & I was before civilization, even before education.’
‘The slave masters come and take the people out of Africa into the west. They take the chain of their feet but then they chain their mind. These people are always looking to God to pray, so they give them Jesus. They give them the bible and chain them again.’
‘In the bible are some stories they took out of Africa. Even the bible have some truths and rights but only because it comes out of Africa. So they give back these stories to the African slaves because it’s the only way to capture their mind. You can not question God, you can not question Jesus, so they are going to accept it. That’s why some people can explain rastafari through the bible. But you can also do that through a comic strip, or the speeches of His Majesty, reggae music, your brethren, your sistren… But do you have a real spiritual connection with His Majesty, as the son or daughter of Haile Selassie? We don’t read to know about the King. The King come straight to I & I ‘cause I & I come from than lineage, from that genes from ancient times. His Majesty send I & I living that ancient livity in the modern world. Who wrote the bible? King James. Who is King James? Was he coming ou of the lineage of Ethiopia, of Africa, or Kush, or Abbyssinian? No! I & I history is long before that. They are late. These things they are coming with, they use just them to capture the mind of the people.’
'I & I who accept His Majesty as the Almighty did not read to know Him. Nobody tell I & I about Him. I & I wake up to the man like I man see the I. You can not learn about Ras Tafari and know Him like I know Him through the genes. Some of these educated people can tell you so much about His Majesty but do they know the livity of this man? It’s not just words, it’s works. You have to live the life not just talk the talk. Rastafari is ancient indigenous livity. No man can write a book about rastafari. They can only write about Prof-I, Iyashop and all these other brethren, about their livity, their tribulation, their persecution. It will look confusing to the world because everyone will say something different about this Man, because this Man come to everyone in a different way. But there’s only one Emperor Haile Selassie I. Hailing Haile Selassie as the Almighty, that is rastafari. It no matter what creed or race or colour or country you’re coming from. We don’t need no bible, we don’t need no book because we know the man spiritually. I don’t have to work, I don’t have to move, because the man will provide for me at all time.’
‘Nyahbinghi is an empress. In the house of rastafari, a lot of people accept Ras Tafari as Christians, so they also treat their women like Christians. But His Majesty has showed us that emperors and empresses are in the same balance. When he was crowned, he crowned his empress at the same time, to show us, the rastafari brethren, that he’s created us equal. Christians call them woman. I & I ites them in a higher heights and call them empresses. Dem say the woman can’t talk, the woman have to stay in the back, the woman have to take care of the children, and have to cook… No! We must treat them the same say as I & I treat I self. I & I don’t have I &I empress to be our maid or to be our cook.’
Out now: Iyahbhinghi Redemption (Prof-I) - Runn Records
Published on 09/02/2013 by Jah Shakespear
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