Standing up and never backing away, Channel Tubes has done it again with a long-awaited release from Rocker-T: “Fiyah Pan Racism” – a cooker that refuses to be turned down as the political mercury rises.
Told over the distinctive bassline of Earl Zero’s supremely vibey “None Shall Escape Judgment” riddim (made popular by Johnny Clarke, who initially left Zero uncredited, and an early release from Channel Tubes), “Fiyah” was initially recorded four years ago and written from experience. Brooklyn-born reggae pioneer Rocker-T was on his way to record when he got in a confrontation about race – a true affront for the musician who has dedicated his life to promoting peace and equality through reggae. T blew into the studio, lit up and furiously wrote about the wickedness he hoped to burn to the ground. “Why would you fight because of the color of your skin/Why would you judge a book before lookin’ in/You’re only gonna lose on a friend you’re missing/You’ll never comprehend the sufferin’ you’re bringing in,” Rocker-T laments on the track.
“‘Fiyah’ got shelved due to manufacturing issues, but once everything started happening with COVID and George Floyd, I felt like I needed to remix and release the song,” says Channel Tubes head, producer and engineer Brett Tubin. “2020 has really uncovered a lot of pent-up racism and aggression. I had to do something.” Featuring harmonies from The Far East’s Maddie Ruthless and support from legendary reggae musicians including Andy Bassford (lead guitar), Victor “Ticklah” Axelrod (piano/organ) and drummer Eddie Ocampo, “Fiyah” is a timeless, righteous condemnation of bigotry and xenophobia.
The flip introduces Jamaican singer Banda Rebel – who was part of John Pep International Sound System with Garnett Silk – singing “You've Got To Learn” on the same riddim. Also recorded years ago with a hand-picked cast of musicians, Banda’s low, Dennis Brown-influenced vocals and heavy lyricism offer an equally timely message. “You been on the floor for a long long time/someone else’s turn now/ You play with fire you’re gonna get burned/ Maybe that’s how you gonna learn.” Rebel worked as a police officer before immigrating to Hartford, CT in the early 2000s; the singer met Tubin shortly after and the pair have been working together ever since.
The Channel Tubes vaults are bursting with big tunes to be unleashed on the world. The label’s latest single is a welcome reprieve and an outcry in a time of disease -- both political and physical -- where everything is on the line.
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