Island Mele: Marty Dread says ‘A’ole TMT’
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawaii and the United States share long traditions of protest songs — songs protesting war and racism, the overthrow of the Hawaiian government (“Kaulana Na Pua”) and the destruction of Oahu’s only freshwater lake by politically connected developers (“The Lake”).
Marty Dread feat. Leiohu Ryder (Five Corners Music)
Maui-resident reggae veteran Marty Dread brings that tradition forward with this song protesting construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea. Dread sings in English — the language spoken by almost every Hawaii resident — but with Leiohu Ryder chanting in Hawaiian the song is also a welcome step towards the day when some of the Jamaican-style music recorded here will use the indigenous language of the islands.
Dread delivers the message — “Mauna Kea is not for sale” and “Mauna Kea is you and me” — in the same catchy compelling style Bob Marley used in expressing Rastafari concerns in Jamaica in the 1970s. If Hawaii’s self-styled island music radio stations aren’t playing “A’ole TMT” it’s because of the subject matter and not because of the production values. Protesting something that many people here are deeply invested in seeing built is a lot riskier for commercial radio than playing songs that spout cliches about “reggae down Babylon” directed towards some other part of the world.
For instance, when Brother Noland released “Look What They’ve Done,” a song protesting over-building in Waikiki in the 1980s, Hawaiian radio wouldn’t play it.