Note: I wrote this story to win my free trip to Jamaica, but was advised by our marketing manager that as one of the owners of Humming Bird car rental I did not qualify to enter. So even though I cannot win, I decided to post anyway.
One of my most favorite reggae songs is Sitting in Limbo by Jimmy Cliff.
I came to love this song when:
I was a scrawny 14-year-old boy with big dreams to escape my crime-ridden community in Spanish Town. But nothing I tried worked and was going nowhere fast
I had already hit a dead-end in my life. My buy and sell back lunch scheme at Kingston College was busted by a vigilant vice principal. I’d lost all my savings on Minty (The Money Back) a worthless horse. Even though the owner, Jack Palance convinced us that it was a sure winner at Caymanas Park that Saturday. My music career was cut short by my mother two years prior, who said I was the worst singer she’d ever heard. The master of the KC choir thought I had a good voice but not the type he was looking for in the choir.
What to do?
Not give up for sure—I had a plan. You know, even at my age, I had a knack for managing things. If I cannot be the next dancehall singing sensation, then surely, I could manage one successfully.I set out to find the next big-hit DJ.
I set out to find the next big-hit DJ.
Chris, or Daddy Scissors as he was called in the neighborhood, was my first sign-up. We made up our tagline: “Lieutenant Stichie stick but I man Daddy Scissors cut.” YES! We all agreed that was the best tagline in history!
That day Scissors was looking optimistic. He had seen a performance from a DJ in a place called Lakespen, three miles from Spanish Town, the night before. “If wi sign this guy, den no doubt, wi ago bi (we’ll be) the next sensational dancehall syndicate”, Scissors said.
So, with that, Daddy Scissors and I set out for Lakespen. On the way, we stop to get Sister Flash, my then girlfriend and a second former at Excelsior high whose recent ghetto hit “Slackness Hafi Done“, was heating up the place – but she could not get airplay on JBC and RJR, the only radio stations at that time. I was going to change all of that.
The DJ from Lakespen perched on his Yahama bike to listen to our pitch on joining us. After we were done he politely told us that he already had his own manager but he believed we had what it takes to do well. This DJ later became Tiger, one of the greatest dancehall sensations in Jamaica. He wished us well and recommended that we try Spiderman, a good DJ who was waiting for his bust. Scissors, Sista Flash, and I had the best time voicing with Spiderman, although I spent the entire time correcting him on his pronunciation of spider.
“Yuh no si (Don’t you see) the spider has an s on it?” I kept repeating over and over to him. “It’s not Piderman but Spiderman.” I gave up – it never worked.
We prepared and rehearsed daily and two months later entered Dela Splash one of the biggest one-day reggae show in Spanish town that year. The preparation was grueling and expensive. I had to find money (through begging and borrowing) to buy material to make Spiderman’s suit.
Related: BLACK HISTORY MONTH: A REMINDER
Wedderboo, the MC at Dela Splash introduced the next act: SPIDERMAN!. But no Spiderman came. I had a smirk on my face… I was not worried because we had hidden Spiderman in the ceiling during the band change. After four calls for Spiderman, he suddenly popped out of the ceiling in his unmistakable spider suit. The crowd went wild. His act was most impressive. His description of how a spider makes love to a woman had the crowd rolling.
Finally. Finally. I made it! I thought.
After the next song, Spiderman ran off the stage – of course – this was another part of our plan as the crowd called for an encore.
Spiderman was in rare form for his next song… jumping and prancing across the stage in his spider imitation moves. Not sure what happened. But he landed face down off the stage, his head hitting the metal chair on his way down. He bled from his forehead was assuage by a less-than-sympathetic crowd and empty Guinness bottles.
One woman chided him for being a fake Spiderman. If he was the real Spiderman, she said, he would have used his web to break his fall.
The chatter tomorrow would be about Spiderman’s fall and not his great performance.
My life was truly over now.
Feeling defeated yet again, the next day, I took a walk down to the seaside in downtown Kingston after school. I really needed to clear my head. What would I do next with my life, I wondered. The Sky-juice-man’s radio started to play and I heard the song “Sitting Here in Limbo” by Jimmy Cliff. It truly inspired me that day, especially the part that says that they’re “putting up resistance but I know my faith will lead me on“. After all my attempts at success were shot down, I finally knew now what I must do with my life…
My friend Flaga was sitting next to me. He was watching the plane take off at the airport. After a while, he turned to me and said: “One day we must go in one a dat to farin”. I nodded my head in agreement. The last time I heard from him he had called me from a federal prison in Colorado. He was happy to get his sentence reduced from 75 to 50 years.
Well, after that song I was convinced that education was the only way out for me and that’s what I did.
“My faith will lead me on“.