Renowned reggae singer Big Youth bestowed musical blessings upon Prime Minister Andrew Holness during a chance encounter at one of Jamaica’s international airports, a gesture which left the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader grinning from ear to ear.
On Monday, Holness shared a video clip on Instagram of the Reggae legend expressing his admiration for and addressing perceived challenges faced by the Prime Minister by interpolating lyrics from his 1976 song I Pray Thee, which is an extended chant from the songbook of David, which commences with the 2nd Psalms.
The unexpected endorsement by the also-smiling Big Youth took place at the airport’s baggage carousel.
“This is Big Youth. I pray thee. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine suffering of vain things. False kings have set themselves against Andrew Holness. Now come, let us break their bonds asunder and cast away the cords from us. Andrew Holness shall have his region,” Big Youth chanted as the Prime Minister smiled happily.
Big Youth then transitioned into a rendition of his cover version of Ray Charles’ Hit The Road Jack, which was the title track from his 1976 album of the same name, that made him an international cultural icon. The video ended after Holness extended his hand for a handshake.
The excited Prime Minister in describing Big Youth as a “Jamaican legend”, captioned his post: “Look who I ran into – none other than Manley Augustus Buchanan, OD, widely known as Big Youth, the foundation DJ of the 70s! At the remarkable age of 75, he’s still rocking stages worldwide! What’s your favourite Big Youth song? Comment below! 👇🏾Hit the Road Jack – a timeless classic that never fails to get the vibes going!”
His post evoked a comment from Bounty Killer who noted: “That’s the biggest Deejay Youth ever young and strong 💪🏾💪🏾”.
Other persons pointed out that what Big Youth had inadvertently done, was to create an iconic dub plate for Holness.
“Jah jah, that’s a big dub …mark g you hear that,” one man quipped referring to Opposition Leader Mark Golding, while another added: “Good good dubplate this Brogad! 😂😂😂”.
Big Youth is known for hits such as Screaming Target, Chanting Dread Inna Fine Style, and S-90 Skank, which was his first national number-one hit. The S-90 Skank track was also featured in a television commercial for the Honda motorcycle, which had inspired it.
Big Youth was recognised by the Government of Jamaica which presented him with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer on National Heroes Day in 2020, for his more than four decades of contribution to the development of Jamaican music.
With respect to I Pray Thee, in September 2010, Big Youth revealed in a Gleaner interview that the prayer had been part of his life and many of his Rastafarian colleagues, who used the prayer to “keep away the beast so we can hide in yard and lick we chalice”.
According to Big Youth, when he recorded the self-financed song, he did it on one cut.
According to the Gleaner, while I Pray Thee became a hit the sound system route, it did not enjoy radio airplay at the time of its release, but nevertheless became a mega-hit.
“I don’t think radio ever want to play that song in those days… There was a lot of controversy, just like how they fight dancehall today… Me know me sell over 100,000 of that song,” Big Youth had said, noting that the figure did not include what other distributors sold.
The newspaper article noted that I Pray Thee has since become Big Youth’s opening song for his live performances.
“I think I always have to pray with the people, so I do that first. It is a spirit that I have to bless the people with,” he had said.