“Yankee Dollar” (Lord Invader)

Henry C.K. Liu: “World trade is now a game in which the US produces dollars and the rest of the world produces things that dollars can buy.” Liu dates this to Nixon’s breaking of Bretton Woods, but Lord Invader forecasts the coming storm in 1946: the girls in Port-of-Spain “will tell you plainly/They love Yankee money.” Singer states this not as a rebuke of such impossible desires (after all, what is the simple alternative?), but when only the dollar matters, one might hear currency imperialism in action, in the flat notes (little green ones, which leave the Caribbean flat broke).


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“007 (Shanty Town)” (Desmond Dekker)

As David Katz’ work often reminds, Jamaican music is born in relationality: to U.S. boogie and R and B in particular. For ground-zero ska, it’s simply a matter of a different accent on the 2 and 4. The figures which populate ska and rock steady songs, therefore, should be no surprise. The lyrics here specify the appearance of Jamaican James Bonds (he already had visited the island in Dr. No, and would do so again and again) and Frank Sinatras. On one level, it’s a typically moral rude boys track: in the end, the police rise with a vengeance and the cheap imitation outlaws  “a weep an’ a wail.” On other level, Dekker implies that 007 represents a license to kill in a specialized sense: the right to produce and determine the third world. Truly, the anxiety of influence.


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