Reggae artiste Ras Ash 1st is not afraid to tackle controversial issues such as the slave trade and endemic gang violence with fresh perspectives.
Ras Ash 1st tackles the legacies of slavery with the well-written ‘Slave Trade’ on the Manatee Records label which promotes forgiveness.
“No matter what happens on earth, the only thing can work is forgiveness without the memory of the scar. Mi ah preach forgiveness with love, understanding and unconditional forgiveness. Only Jah Can Set Us Free,” Ras Ash said.
The song will be officially released in March. The reggae-powered Satta Massagana rhythm project features dancehall star Don Yute, Fidel, Jah Art, Driva ft. Bastic , Ishmel Mcanuff, Kmino, Jah Defender , Jah Myhrakle, Mikey Lion, Ras Ash, Sgt. Remo, Mr. Program and veteran reggae singer Winston McAnuff.
Unlike his fellow artistes, Ras Ash 1st is more focussed on the virtues of forgiveness as a life lesson than the meagre benefits of reparations for black people because of the savagery of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
“In my age, we have more pressing concerns than reparation. Reparation is about paying back but we are being cruel to each other, so it comes right back to being able to forgive. If ah one can forgive, if ah one can understand, then that one can forgive and move on. Reparation is about getting paid, but getting paid for what? Money don’t make your soul rest, it only builds ignorance to do good or bad. If a man wants reparation, he has to first repatriate from within himself, through love, charity, respect, and forgiveness,” he said.
He insists that there are lessons to be learned in the 21st century to show black people the way forward.
“The Trans-Atlantic trade perpetrated by the traders of flesh, spirits and souls caused deep-seated effects that we’re still battling with today. The youths are still in ignorance and show a resistance to their true self. Nevertheless, we still stand a chance with loving kindness and the mercies of Jah Jah which teaches forgiveness with love, understanding and unconditional forgiveness,” Ras Ash said.
The idea of giving Black people reparations for slavery dates back to right after the end of the Civil War (think 40 acres and a mule). For decades, it’s mostly been an idea debated outside the mainstream of American political thought.
But writer Ta-Nehisi Coates reintroduced it to the mainstream with his 2014 piece in The Atlantic, “The Case for Reparations.” Since then, the conversations surrounding reparations have intensified. Last year, US President Joe Biden told The Washington Post he supports studying how reparations could be part of larger efforts to address systemic racism. Biden’s VP, Kamala Harris, has co-sponsored a bill that would study the effects of slavery and create recommendations for reparations.
In the meantime, he has high hopes that his latest production, 1 August Town rhythm, will ignite a yearning in the hearts and minds of residents of the August Town area for peace and a cessation of hostilities in the community.
“The violence is getting out of hand. War is a terrible thing, it disrupts lives, traumatizes children, creates unnecessary financial hardship for families who can’t function, there must be a better way,” a passionate Ras Ash 1st said.
The project features a mix of upcoming and established August Town based acts such as Sizzla Kalonji, Ras Ash 1st himself, as well as new acts Sherdonae, Junga Ras, Sas El Gringo and Reece Gioganii.
The first anthology of songs include Ras Ash 1st teaming up Fantan Mojah and Natural Black, then he teams up again with youngsters, Sherdon Hype and Junga Ras for Hungry Days, Diphrnt1 shows up on Justice for the World, Sherdonae represents with Young Boss and female reggae-dancehall artiste Reece Gioganii cries for Peace Love and Unity. This collection was released on March 26th on the Sceptre Records label.
“I have 14 songs on the rhythm, I split it in two, the first set was just released, then Sizzla will lead out the next set of songs, with Sizzla, Harry Toddler and Wasp, and a youth named Arrisen One from Chisholm,” he said.
Years ago, he did his first project, the On a Mission/Bankrobber project featuring Sizzla, Norris Man, Lutan Fyah, Steve Machette. The rhythm project was released in 2001 and sold well internationally and locally. The project spawned a hit song, Dangerous, for Sizzla.
“I did more projects after that as well over the years but were not quite as successful,” he said.