KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Just three weeks ago, a group of young Jamaicans exercised civil disobedience in remarkable fashion on Hope Road. The occasion appeared to be a video shoot for Protoje's 'I&I,' the second track on his Billboard and iTunes charting album, The 8 Year Affair. Yet, much more occurred on that Friday morning. Moreover, it was flawlessly executed.
It was approximately 8-o-clock and bumper-to-bumper traffic crawled its way toward Half Way Tree. Just then scores of Rastafarian youth, Reggae Revivalists and their supporters spilled onto the street. They marched from the Twelve Tribes of Israel headquarters at Clieveden Avenue, made their way pass the Bob Marley Museum to King's House, the Governor-General's residence, then continued on to Jamaica House, which houses the Office of the Prime Minister.
"Every time I envisioned what this video would look like, all I kept seeing was I and I and I making this trek," said Protoje. "The song is aggressive but it is still love that we are coming with. I wanted the video to show that energy."
The 'I&I' video features the likes of Kabaka Pyramid, No-Maddz, Jesse Royal, Hempress Sativa, Jah9, Chronixx plus members of Zincfence, Pentateuch and Raging Fyah along with other familiar faces. Members of Protoje's band, The Indiggnation, are also prominent in various scenes.
What made the whole ordeal special was that it was more than just a mere music video shoot. According to author Dutty Bookman, who assisted with organizing the march, it was revolutionary action.
"The music video was more like a smokescreen," Bookman recalled. "We handed out some thought-provoking leaflets with inspiring words from Haile Selassie I, Marcus Garvey and Walter Rodney. I could see that drivers and pedestrians really appreciated the information they were receiving."
The distributed leaflet, which can now be downloaded on the internet, was prepared in part by I-Nation Books and Necessities. During the walk, I-Nation also displayed some of its stock, including Rodney's Groundings With My Brothers as well as other Afrocentric titles.
The procession did not get very far before Jamaica Constabulary Force vehicles appeared on the scene, but officers found neither disorder nor fault with the gathering. Marchers largely remained on the sidewalks or toed the center line in the street, hardly disrupting the flow of traffic. In the end, the police simply escorted the march until the crowd disbanded at Jamaica House.
"It wasn't a protest or anything like that," Protoje remarked. "I and I just felt like taking a stroll down a public street and have fun doing it."
Directed and edited by kush.asher, the video has the subtle feel and imagery of a prime time television newscast. The entire march was recorded in one take with the participation of a number of filmmakers and photographers, including El Puru, Ezra Tafari, Sabriya Simon, I-Shango, Matthew McCarthy, Taj Francis, Ikem Smith, Randy Richards, Big Mike and others.
Commenting on the significance of the 'I&I' video concept, kush.asher explained, "It is special because Rastafarians were allowed to be active in front of Jamaica House. Not that long ago we would have been shot!"
Download the leaflet here: http://www.mediafire.com/view/?7c5bbx6o19smb0e