[Destroy All Headphones™] Survival 101 Mixtape: Introduction to Pacific Island Reggae

Your Kung Fu Sucks!® brings you... the Survival 101 mixtape! This blazin' bootleg compilation collects 20 of the best dancehall, roots, and lovers rock reggae hits to rise up from the inviting isles of the South Pacific! That's right, approximately 85 minutes of rock steady riddems that will transport you instantly from your stressed out existence to a tranquil island beach on the other side of the world. We guarantee it! So order your copy of Survival 101 for the low price of free-ninety-nine today, and let the irie vibes of the South Pacific islands whisk you away!

 Survival 101 Mixtape: Introduction to Pacific Island Reggae

01 Freedom – Vanessa Quai  
02 So Much Trouble ft. Mino (Bob Marley Interpolation) – Koran
03 West Papua ft. Ngaiire Joseph – George Telek
04 Dou Mada Mai  – 1STRIBE
05 Papuan Pride  – Robby T & Metere Crew
06 Ino'mae – Onetox
07 My Island Home  – DMP
08 Island Diver – Pagasa
09 Perfect ft. Jah Boy – Dezine
10 Bolo Visi – Cloud [Trevor]
11 Crying Youths – Syco Don 
12 Sobo Audau Diva ft. Young Davie – Nasio Domoni 
13 Dina Lewa ft. Da Melanezianz – Young Davie 
14 I Won't Give Up (Jason Mraz Cover) – Paddock 
15 Nice Bola ft. Kairi – Teha 
16 Mon Coeur (Kaneka Remix) – Aryelle 
17 PNG Queen ft. Robby T, Sean Rii, Tee, Rini & Ugly BOFour
18 Shefarian Lady – Shanty Town
19 Hutusa Jazz Lewa ft. Mandre & Livilzman Baka – Sean Rii
20 Vuvusele – Small Jam 
21 Secret Bonus Track 

All songs posted to the Your Kung Fu Sucks! blog are the property of their respective copyright holders. Their use here is strictly intended for promotional and informational purposes only. NOT FOR SALE. Please support the artists featured on the YKFS blog by buying their original CDs and mp3s where and whenever applicable. Any artist who would like to have their music removed from this promotional project may do so by contacting the administrator at stpaco@gmail.com.


Survival 102: The art of a mixape cover 'remix' (Sampling Bob Marley & The Wailers)

"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." 
                       – Bob Marley

It was indeed a bit of...overkill to make both a front and wholly impractical back cover for the Survival 101 mixtape that was arranged and assembled by yours truly. But once the inspiration had taken hold to make a pop art-style 'remix' cover based on Neville Garrick's design for the classic Bob Marley and the Wailer's album Survival (1979), I couldn't stop until the idea was fully exhausted.

Neville Garrick's cover, which brilliantly illustrated the visionary message of "Africa Unite", the lead track on side two of the Wailer's album, featured the flags of the 41 nations that made up the African continent at that time. But it also united with those nations the flag of Papua New Guinea, one of several distant island sisters to the African continent in the South Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles away.

As a teen, when I got my first copy of the Survival LP on 12" vinyl, I knew virtually nothing at all about "PNG", beyond the very eerie fact that its inhabitants – who live on an immense landmass a few thousand nautical miles away from the continental home of my own ancestors –  somehow looked a helluva' lot like me and my 'bredren'.

As an adult, around the time that I had somehow acquired a second copy of Survival on CD, I felt both genetically and intellectually compelled to become more informed about those distant cousins who inhabit the second largest island on our planet. The process taught me much about them, but also much about the people living on neighboring islands in the region. And, in the years since, I've written a little bit about what I've learned. Someday those writings will see the light of day. But, for now, back to the making of this mixtape's front and back covers.

After deciding to make what would be an abridged remix of Garrick's inspirational piece, I began a brief study of the original Survival album. It was at this point that I learned (or became reminded) that the flag of Papua had been included in the original design, and that surprising fact only doused gasoline on the idea that burned within to make a modern remix version of the cover. But one that would have not only the flag of PNG but the other flags of Melanesia as well.

And so, along with the flag of Papua, the flag of its struggling conjoined twin sister West Papua was added. Following those, the flags of the other Melanesian islands of Vanuatu, New Caledonia (Kanaky), Fiji and the Solomon Islands were promptly applied. And with the mixtape cover quickly beginning to take proper shape, it seemed only fitting to then include the flags of the nearby Torres Strait Islands and that of the aboriginal peoples of Australia and Tasmania. For similar reasons, the flags of the neighboring Timor-Leste and Maluku Islands were added.

After the flags of the Melanesian and related nations, the flags of 16 African countries were chosen due to either historical or aesthetic reasons. These include those of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau (the West African region after which PNG was named), Ethiopia, Zaire, Kenya, Liberia, and others. The last to be added were the "red, black and green" Pan-African flag of African descendants in North America, and the flag of Jamaica, the Caribbean island birthplace of reggae music and Bob Marley.

Pleased with how the front turned out, I wasn't ready to stop. Nostalgia reminded me of how the back cover of the original Survival album had always made me feel when I looked at it;  the sense of unknown history that it hinted at and the sense of connection I somehow felt to the people in the grainy black and white photographs displayed there. And so I tried to convey a similar sense of mystery -- and history -- with old photographs showing people from Papua New Guinea (top & bottom), Fiji (left) and the Solomon Islands (right).

I hope that some of what I was trying to convey with it all somehow comes across.

From start to finish, this mixtape project was a long and gratifying labor of love. But I also had tons of help from various 'surrogates' who didn't know that they were involved. These include the previously mentioned Mr. Garrick, and the small number of bloggers and DJs whose active promotion of Pacific Island music in recent years has exposed me to several artists whose music I now treasure. So massive "big ups" specifically to Street-vibez MozikkSolomon Vibz, FreeSolomonMusic, Massive Entertainment, and the Reggae Revolution Radio Show.

I also want to say 'nuff respect and many thanks to all of the artists whose music has been featured on the Survival 101 mixtape. The intention behind this compilation is only to further promote and bring awareness to folks in America and elsewhere about this too-little-discussed part of our planet (Melanesia) and the fantastic branch of reggae that emanates from its breathtaking isles.

If you download and find yourself enjoying the tunes on this mixtape, please support those few fortunate artists whose music is available through Amazon and iTunes. In the meantime, have fun with this small sampling of what Pacific Island reggae has to offer.


"Riddem Selekta St. Paco"


This Day in History – Bob Marley's 1979 album "Survival" was released 35 years ago today

Bob Marley signing autographs at Tower Records in Los Angeles, CA 1979

There are no coincidences.

Trying always to be mindful of that, I'll will admit now that I still find myself completely amazed at times at the way things can come together.

In relation to the 'fun fact' posted in the header, I had absolutely no intention of timing the release of my forthcoming Survival 101 mixtape with the October 1979 release of the Bob Marley and the Wailers album that was its inspiration. But, amazingly, it still worked out that way.

What is also fairly amazing to me is the fact that I didn't seek out this bit of October-related trivia. It just came to me (showed up in my mailbox) by way of Google Plus as a "suggested read." You should have seen my eyes when I realized the significance of the date.

When the universe is speaking, you'd better listen
, goes the saying. Well, the universe has been whispering to yours truly quite a bit recently. And I'm doing my best to hear what she is suggesting...and to act accordingly.


Kanye West Papua – You don't know THEIR struggle (South Side Superflat Remix)

Dear diary blog,

I had another one of those crazy dreams again. You know, one of those where I'm mobbin' around with Kanye West and his crew. Yeah, that crazy shit. This time around it seems that I was tagging along for a leg of this year's "Yeezus" tour. The trip would see us rocking the historic Sydney Opera House in Australia. And doing so with great purpose.

Okay, no. I wasn't rockin' anything myself. All that I appeared to be doing was writing for Kanye's blog. But my additional art and design background seemed to have made me a valued member of Ye's crew; a respected sounding board at which Ye could toss a variety of creative ideas well into the sleepless hours of the night. 

During the tour bus ride to Australia (See? Crazy.), I told Ye that the West name would be a great one to use in a grassroots movement to draw much-needed attention to the struggle of the people of West Papua. Ye gave me the stink face, unsure of what I was talking about.

Like most of us, he had no idea that for half a century, the western half of Papua New Guinea (situated just north of Australia), has been under violent occupation by Indonesian military forces. Nor that, since the invasion in 1962, an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 Papuans have been killed by Indonesia in a genocidal effort to claim the land and the natural resources of West Papua.

The numbers – whatever the most accurate figure – are staggering. And the silence on the plight of West Papuans is utterly deafening. I told Kanye that he could actually do something to affect the situation. Ye became intrigued. Deeply intrigued.

He admitted that he sometimes missed the progressive slant of hip-hop in the mid to late 1980s, a period when he admired not just the rebellious style of hip-hop artists, but the boldness of people like Chuck D, KRS-One, Ice Cube and others who took very public stances on social issues of the day. Issues that ranged from censorship in the media to police brutality in minority communities.

Kanye also confessed to even feeling a little miffed at himself for not being as outspoken on a wider range of issues in his music, as he had on The College Dropout, his first album. He also lamented that all he seems to speak out against now are paparazzi stalkers and the walls he encounters in the fashion world that block his desires to be a multifaceted artist.

He then asked me what I thought he should do to bring attention to the struggle in WP after the tour ends. I offered some ideas. As seems to be quite true of Kanye West (in real life), the man already had an idea of his own.

The next night in Sydney, after bringing down the opera house with a spirited rendition of the song "The Good Life", Kanye froze, lowered his head and slowly lifted a leather-gloved fist in the air, reminiscent of the brothas on the winner's platform in that legendary photo from the '68 Olympics. Then, as the crowd fell silent, he uttered the words "Free Kanye West Papua" and walked off the stage.

It was genius. (At least it seemed so in the dream.)

Few people seemed to understand what the statement meant (I imagine the reality to be a bit different, given Australia's proximity to PNG), but the interwebz were immediately abuzz with fans and even haters trying to understand the phrase's cryptic meaning.

As is often the case with the things that Kanye does, the meaning was examined and dissected by the media in America, Asia and elsewhere. Several sitting members of the Australian parliament, which has a politically comfy relationship with the Indonesian Governement, were completely red faced.

Enthralled with the "conscious rapper" label that was quickly being affixed to his name in blog posts and news reports, Ye decided to close out the other Australian shows the same way. But, in addition to the black leather glove, he also rocked another version of the Yeezus Tour jacket that I had promptly remixed to show the flag of West Papua on the right sleeve (as opposed to the previously re-appropriated Confederate flag of the American South).

During the next performance, Kanye raised the stakes. Taking a page from out of Run-DMC's concert performance playbook, Ye looked out over the concert hall and asked the fans in attendance, "Who's reppin' West Papua tonight?!" Several thousand flags of various sizes were hoisted high into the air. Kanye then launched into the song "All Falls Down"...and surprised all with a guest appearance by Lauryn Hill, who came out just to sing the chorus.

The response from the audience was an eruption. 

Standing with the elated audience, I was stunned and amazed at what had just transpired all around me. Those feelings, however, would not stay with me long.

My eyelids fluttered open, and shards of morning light that streamed into the room from behind the blinds began to fill my head. I slowly roused from a night's slumber and was immediately saddled by sadness.

As often occurs when I wake from such deeply involved dreams, I was not only sad, but also a little angry that none of the events that just seemed so completely real had happened. That which had felt so true had only occurred inside my big, fat, fantasy-filled head. I was duped, lied to, deceived by my own brain.

Slipping from the sheets, I shuffled down to the workstation near the foot of the bed and shook the mouse that rested on the desk to rouse my computer from its dreamless slumber. And with hauntingly vivid recollections of a jet-setting shadow life still in mind, I searched the interwebs for photographs of the controversial rapper from Chicago. And with two found images picked to be the foundations – probably shot by paparazzi stalkers – I actualized a portion of an inspired message that, just moments before, had only existed in a dream.

The "You Don't Know THEIR Struggle" tagline reinterprets a verse from the 2004 Kanye West song "Space Ship". All photographs used in the the "You Don't Know THEIR Struggle (Free West Papua)" promo ad page concepts featured in this YKFS blog post are © their respective copyright holders.`


[Press-N-Play®] Dezine feat. Jah Boy – Perfect

In the exact words of the ganja blazin' rasta who sent me this hot lil' numba: "Dis track is str8 fiyah! Rock steady reggae muzik specially *dezined* in da Solomon Islands to bless up de dance floorz worldwide, Ras! A worldwide rocker, dis one!! Worldwide!!!"
– Ganja Blazin' Rasta

You read it here, folks. A worldwide rocker, dis one. So make sure to have a subwoofer or a pair of high-quality headphones jacked into your laptop when ya press the play button. Because Dezine's "Perfect" (feat. Jah Boy) is one bass-heavy lovers rock 'riddem' that must be listened to properly to really appreciate it for the sweet reggae groove dat it is. Meh been playin' dis track to death since meh got it, mon. To. Death.

Shout outs to all mah peeps in the Solomon Islands!

All songs posted to the Your Kung Fu Sucks! blog are the property of their respective copyright holders. Their use here is strictly intended for promotional and informational purposes only. NOT FOR SALE. Please support the artists featured on the YKFS blog by buying their original CDs and mp3s where and whenever applicable. Any artist who would like to have their music removed from this promotional project may do so by contacting the administrator at stpaco@gmail.com.


Escape to...Monsta Islands

Click to enlarge
Raja Ampat (aerial view), West Papua