Kamala Harris, the Democratic Nominee for Vice President of the United States, has gotten the green light from the Jamaican diaspora who have thrown their support behind her. The latest endorsement comes from Legendary Reggae/Dancehall artiste Nadine Sutherland who has released a dubplate for Harris based on her Dave Kelly-produced hit, Action. Listen to the dubplate below.
Action was released in 1993 with Terror Fabolous and is today regarded as a classic Dancehall anthem. The song peaked at No. 43 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart before being named among the Top 20 duets of all time by Vibe Magazine. The song also made its political debut when the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) used it for their general election campaign in 1993.
Nadine is not the first Jamaican artiste to endorse a U.S. presidential candidate in song. Dancehall veteran Tanya Stephens campaigned and created Bernie A Di Realest for candidate Bernie Sanders in 2016. Cocoa Tea also released the self-explanatory Barack Obama in 2008.
The use of Dancehall dubplates is now commonplace during elections in Jamaica, as seen during the recently concluded 2020 elections. However, this is certainly the first time that a daughter of Jamaica is running for high office in the United States with Dancehall backing.
Harris, whose father and mother are Jamaican and Indian immigrants, has proudly spoken of her Jamaican roots as she seeks to connect with first and second-generation immigrant voters and minority groups.
In a Gleaner interview over the weekend, Sutherland said although she was excited when was asked to do a dub for Harris, she thought about it carefully.
“I am a child of immigration as my mother filed for us to go and live in the States, so there is a whole generation of Sutherlands growing up in the US. Growing up, I didn’t have any black heroes or superheroes. The closest thing I had was Wonder Woman. Now, my nieces and nephews in the US have Obama, and they have Kamala Harris, who is female and a child of immigrants, who were also successful. I am very happy to be able to do this,” she said.
Sutherland and deejay Terror Fabulous took their collab Action and crossed over on to the airwaves of ethnic radio stations, and to this day, it is one of the most played Dancehall songs across the spectrum. “Action was such a huge song, and it has not lost any of its popularity. It is played on urban radio in the States every day. So it was a natural pick. I called up Jah Sno Cone and told him what I was doing, and he was very encouraging,” the Babyface singer explained. They both collaborated on reworking the lyrics while maintaining the street cred.
“We modified things a bit and tried to get out some of the parts that were not vice-presidential. We are representing dancehall, trying to be authentic, but yuh know, we have to show respect for the office,” Nadine said.
So that meant leaving outs part like “sweet Lovin’ make de gal dem bruk out,” the popular refrain in the original.
Nadine told The Sunday Gleaner: “I really don’t know if Kamala Harris will see this. I hope she does, but whatever happens, I am just proud to do this for another Jamerican, another woman. Respect to respect. Vice President Harris, step up!”
The 1:57 minute dubplate is catchy as it uses Jamaican parlance to basically say that Harris is qualified and able to do the job not only talk about it – “Action, not a bagga mouth. She clean, when she step inna the White House.”
The song also exalts Harris’ intellect as a razor-sharp Senator known for her intense interviews in various senate investigations.
The lyrics of the song are covered by various images of a young Harris with her pigtails along with photographs of her mother and sister when they were children, as well Harris as a young adult interspersed with images of Jamaicans in the diaspora and her mother and father.
Yesterday was indeed a day of different experiences and emotions. I’m taking the time out today to celebrate. Big up to the team responsible for the success of my ‘Kamala Action Dub’. Have a great day beautiful people. pic.twitter.com/8ukfKsB2rr
— NadineSutherland (@Nadinesutherlan) September 13, 2020
The dubplate ends with both Sutherland and a male voice encouraging everyone to go out and vote.
US Elections are due on the 3rd of November 2020 with Harris running alongside Joe Biden for the Democratic Party and Donald Trump as the Presidential nominee for the Republicans alongside his Vice President nominee Mike Pence.
Sutherland later released her own solo hits like Babyface (1994) produced by Philip ‘Fatis’ Burrell and I’m In Love (1995) produced by Robert ‘Bobby Digital’ Dixon and Barry O’Hare.