Co­coa Tea sang sup­port for Barack Obama

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Mel Cooke Gleaner Writer

AS US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama con­ducts his global farewell tour in the po­si­tion of his coun­try’s 44th head of state, it is a good time to re­visit Ja­maican pop­u­lar mu­sic songs that re­flected the joy and op­ti­mism that ac­com­pa­nied his 2008 cam­paign and even­tual vic­tory.

In 2008, Co­coa Tea stated his pref­er­ence for Barack Obama in typ­i­cally melo­di­ous man­ner. And un­like many pub­lic en­dorse­ments of the Demo­cratic can­di­date out­side of Amer­ica when the result was al­most a given, Co­coa Tea put his en­dorse­ment of Obama on record in Jan­uary 2008. In Barack Obama, he sings: “Well this is not about class No colour, race or creed Make no mis­take it’s the change Whe de peo­ple them need Them say Barack Obama.” He in­jects some hu­mour into his choice of Demo­cratic can­di­date, in­clud­ing the name of a lady who went on to be de­feated by Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump, who suc­ceeds Obama in Jan­uary: “It is not Hi­lary Clin­ton It is not John Wayne It is not Chuck Nor­ris.” And Co­coa Tea puts his certainty of Obama’s vic­tory in racial con­text: “Nuff cyaa be­lieve a true Black come fe run de red, white and blue.” “I wrote the song about late Jan­uary (2008), Co­coa Tea told The Sun­day Gleaner. “Me is a man sit down and watch CNN all the time.”

“Why me is so in­ter­ested in the pol­i­tics of Amer­ica is that it af­fects I and I. I was in touch with the pri­maries from it start. The only mes­sage that speak to I was from Obama,” he said. And that mes­sage was change.

“A mes­sage like this is a win­ning mes­sage,” Co­coa Tea said. In ad­di­tion, as a Rasta­far­ian, “Ac­cord­ing to proph­esy, it was the right time for a black man come to power in the United States of Amer­ica.”


Barack Obama was con­ceived and recorded in short or­der as it was done at Co­coa Tea’s own Roar­ing Lion record­ing fa­cil­ity in Hayes, Claren­don.

“I man is an artiste who no write with no pa­per. Me just go in the stu­dio and sing,” he said. He tried the lyrics and melody on a rhythm that had al­ready been done, which proved a good choice, al­though it had to be ad­justed slightly. “I thought it was the right rhythm – right tempo, right melody, and some­thing peo­ple could dance to,” he told The Sun­day Gleaner.

Barack Obama was recorded in the late af­ter­noon. The ses­sion wrapped up at about 6:30 p.m. There was no de­lay in get­ting it on the road as it was mixed at Bobby Dig­i­tal’s Kingston stu­dio the fol­low­ing day. Cul­ture Lion does the ‘Obama’ re­sponse to Co­coa Tea’s call, and mem­bers of Beres Ham­mond’s band are among the mu­si­cians who played on the track. The Step by Step Band from Man­dev­ille did some over­dubs.

And just as Co­coa Tea was sure that Obama would be the 44th pres­i­dent of the USA, “when I make the tune and call some brethren to hear it, them say this gone. It hit.”

And it has. Not only was Barack Obama very pop­u­lar on ra­dio, but it has also hit the pole po­si­tion on the charts in New York and Florida, stay­ing there for nine and eight weeks, re­spec­tively. More im­por­tant for Co­coa Tea, “a lot of peo­ple, when this tune started play­ing, they did not re­ally know who Barack Obama is. I open the ears of the peo­ple.” He first per­formed it at Louie Cul­ture’s 2008 Port­land Splash when the song had al­ready been get­ting some air­play and he had done some tele­vi­sion pro­mo­tion. “They were singing it word for word,” Co­coa Tea said. Then he went to Europe in Au­gust that year, per­form­ing at Sum­mer­jam in Ger­many, Ro­to­tom in Italy, and Sun­dance in Holland.

“When I did the song, I was blown away by the re­ac­tion of the peo­ple. Ev­ery­one a sing the song, white peo­ple,” he said. How­ever, with the USA be­ing much closer to home and the Bush regime’s ‘with us or against us’ men­tal­ity clear, Co­coa Tea nat­u­rally had some con­cerns about po­ten­tial fall­out from the song.

“I man think about dem ting deh. It have to cross your mind. Once you a start deal with pol­i­tics, you know the ram­i­fi­ca­tion,” he said.

Quite a few peo­ple put the song up on YouTube, and among the nu­mer­ous plau­dits were some neg­a­tive re­ac­tions.

“I an I is Rasta. I don’t en­dorse pol­i­tics,” Co­coa Tea said, quot­ing Mar­cus Gar­vey on con­fi­dence. “The con­vic­tion I man have in know­ing Barack Obama go­ing to win this elec­tion, it mean noth­ing to me,” Co­coa Tea said in dis­miss­ing the crit­i­cism. “The Bush thing never get to my head.”

“When the Iowa pri­mary run and I see the land­slide vic­tory the peo­ple give Obama, I felt vin­di­cated,” he said.

He did a pro­mo­tional trip to New York af­ter Obama’s 2008 vic­tory.

Co­coa Tea

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