Hugh English sings for youths
ALL his life, Hugh English has lived in what Jamaican sociologists call 'garrison communities'. He has seen his share of people being exploited by the system.
Which is exactly what Youth Inna Streets, his latest song, expresses. On it, English sings about the rapists who pillage communities like his native Trench Town.
“When wi sey rapists, is not like di man dem who violate women. Is those who come in an' tek advantage of poor people…rapists come in all forms,” the Rastafarian singer told the Jamaica Observer.
Youth Inna Streets is English's first project for Big Feet Records, an independent company based in Northern California. It was launched just over two years ago by Josh Harris, a veteran musician who made his name on the Golden State's ska and reggae scene.
Harris also played keyboards on Youth Inna Streets which has a world beat flavour reminiscent of the 1980s.
It marks a return to the scene for the wiry English whose rugged outlook was nurtured by his years in Trench Town and Waterhouse. Those communities also helped shape his roots sound.
Released in mid-2021, Youth Inna Streets is currently in the Top 10 of the Foundation Radio Network Top 30 Reggae Chart which covers the tristate (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) area.
Some of English's previous songs including a cover of The Beatles' Hey Jude, and his original, Guns in The Hands of Fools, have done well on reggae charts in South Florida and New York. He believes failure to maintain momentum hurt him in the past.
“Wi have good people behind wi now, so I expect great things. Wi have some great things in store,” said English.
A former member of Los Angeles ska band, The Untouchables, Harris moved into administration and production when he started Big Feet Records in 2019. The label has since released songs by a number of roots artistes including Luciano, Mykal Roze, Jah Mason, Duane Stephenson, Norris Man, Chezidek and Turbulence.
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer