Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Rubbin' Up Against Dub

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Rubbin' Up Against Dub

When I tell you my friend and Centennial College colleague Chet Sing is launching his fifth dub CD, Recessionary Revolutionaries, Thursday night at the Smiling Buddha, 961 College St., at 8 pm, your probable response is "what's dub?"
The answer is it's a Jamaican form of spoken word in which the artist speaks/sings lines over a reggae accompaniment. It started with radio DJ's doing improv over instrumental tracks, but has become a form for consciousness-raising around repression, oppression, rights, social change and revolution. The difference between dub and the Bob Marley school of reggae is that the words are more complex in dub and are less sung, more spoken. Due to the Jamaican diaspora in Toronto, our city is really the second capital (after Kingston) of dub poetry, and is home to the Dub Poetry Collective at http://www.dubpoetscollective.... which includes well-known artists like Afua Cooper, Lillian Allen, and Clifton Joseph.
However, the intent is the same -- hook you with a compelling rhythm so the message seeps into your bones. Chet has been performing dub poetry for a couple of decades now, and intermittently releasing CDs with musical collaborators. Some of his songs have achieved frequent airplay on university FM stations but have not been much featured on mainstream radio. This may be due content which doesn't please the corporate owners of the airwaves... Chet's latest CD includes tiles like "The Internationale (dub version), the eponymous "Recessionary Revolutionaries" and "Dem Arrest" (G20, anyone?).
Chet's commitment, inspired words, and musical sense make him well worth listening to. Come to his launch -- it features a mystery guest (me) -- and if you can't make that, check out his website at

1 comment

Hey "mystery guest," I say you speak your long poem, "Time Slip,"
in dub-beat Thursday night.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

John Oughton

John Oughton is the author of several books, including Time Slip: New and Selected Poems, published by Guernica Editions.

Go to John Oughton’s Author Page