Joseph Hill and Culture

Joseph Hill & CultureThe Life and Times of Joseph Hill and Culture (APS Books,2019)

This book can be seen as a modest tribute to a great band, but there is another motive which is linked to my work as an academic specialising in Caribbean cultures. My own field as a researcher is the link between Caribbean poetry, Caribbean music and the Caribbean oral tradition. Over the last twenty-five years, I have written about dub poetry, Caribbean poetry and their link with Jamaican music. Listening to Culture’s songs, I realised that their lyrics are steeped in the Jamaican oral tradition which included traditional songs, proverbs, Mento, the Christian heritage, Revivalism, and also the Rastafarian movement. I came to realise that their songs were far from simple and that the numerous cultural and religious references they contained made them very difficult to understand for the average reggae fan. Culture’s songs, often sung in Jamaican Creole, can be seen as shining examples of the complexity of the Jamaican oral tradition.
This book can be considered as an attempt at setting the group’s music in its appropriate cultural and historical context, and then at guiding the reader through the group’s discographical history. It is hoped that at the end of this journey, the reader will have a better understanding of Culture’s importance in the history of reggae.