Reggae from Germany. Why not? Is it surprising that Germans can get their groove on and sound indistinguishable from Jamaicans? Francophone Europe has a long tradition of embracing reggae, particularly reggae from Africa (Alpha Blondy, Lucky Dube, etc.). Germany has, in the last few years, developed its own authentic reggae/dancehall scene with acts like Gentleman, Mono & Nikitaman and Nosliw. But the biggest, most popular reggae outfit from Germany is without a doubt Seeed (yes, three e’s). In the (apparently spectacular) live configuration, there are 11 band members, a whole soccer team’s worth.
So far, they’ve made three studio records (four if you count a somewhat silly ‘compilation’ for the English-speaking market) and the Live record I’m talking about here. The music is a blend of modern roots reggae and dancehall. The lyrics are half in German and half in English (the English is a very authentic-souding Jamacian patois, no less). The fun factor is writ large, and this is immensely entertaining summertime music (as is most reggae… but then I’m a bit of a reggae aficionado). As an English-speaking person, your entertainment and amusement mileage may vary with this. Musically, it’s fantastic – in my opinion more elegant, musically spirited and better arranged and produced than much of commercial new reggae out of Jamaica these days (excepting, maybe, Damian Marley’s recent records, which are lovely).
Seeed often celebrate Berlin, their city, so there’s a lot of ‘local patriotism’ in their lyrics. A lot of ‘Berlin’ boasting to go with the Seeed boasting. Seeed’s message is empowering. Lyric sample (with loose translation):
[Du] befreist alle Tiere aus allen Zoos | Bringst den Frieden direkt nach Nah-Ost | Jeder fragt sich, woher hat der die Power bloss? | Seeed Sound macht kleine Typen gross
You free all the animals from all the zoos | You bring peace to the Middle East | Everybody’s asking, how did he become so powerful? | Seeed’s sound makes little guys huge
Seeed has apparently had some success in Jamaica, with tracks like ‘Waterpumpee’ (Anthony B guests) and ‘Dickes B’ (with Black Kappa). That’s a big stamp of approval for a band from Germany.
This is party music, drive-your-car-with-the-windows-down-and-turn-it-up music. There will be summer wherever you decide to play this. And if you happen to understand German, you’ll laugh a lot. (As I’m writing this I realize that perhaps, this is the ultimate in ‘long tail’ music: there’s me and, like, ten other devoted reggae fans who will fully appreciate this music, bilingually, for the humour in both languages.)