In 1971 two songs were released in Trinidad & Tobago that represented completely new directions in the musical and lyrical expression of Trinidad’s place in the diaspora, Indian on one hand and African on the other. Nanny & Nana by Sundar Popo and Blow ‘Way by Lancelot Layne were revolutionary and ground breaking and spawned two distinctly new genres in Trinidad & Tobago music — Chutney music in the case of Sundar Popo and Rapso, in Lance’s case. Brother Resistance calls Lancelot Layne the father of Rapso music.
Blow ‘Way & Afro’Dadian
During the early 1970s Lance recorded at least a dozen startlingly original songs including Blow ‘Way, Afro’Dadian, Bringing’ Off, Dat is Horros and Kaiso For Mout’ Band. Each one expanding his talent for musical arrangements and dramatic counterpoint with chorus responses and vocal variation. He enlisted musicians, each exciting and pioneering in their own right, breaking ground in the post 1970 cultural revolution: calypso/jazz pianist, Clive Zanda; composer, guitarist, singer and flautist, Andre Tanker; Mau Mau Drummers including the young Jah Jah Onilu, Mansa Musa Drummers; vocalists, including Ann Marie Innis and Ella Andall. The result is exciting, confident and musically ground-breaking. Until his death in 1990 he kept commenting and educating T&T’s society with songs like Get Off The Radio, Kamboulay, Jambalasie Dance and Strike Squad.
Trinidadians and Tobagonians
Lancelot Layne was a phenomenal singer, composer, arranger, bassist, producer, and bandleader. For over two decades he had challenged all people of African descent as well as those of other races who were considered ‘black’, to detach themselves from the ideology that their race was inferior to others. His focus was mostly on Trinidadians and Tobagonians and his dedication to his country could only be described as infinite. Even as he struggled to get the population to heed his words, he would be confronted with immense adversity by the same nation he loved so dearly.
Lancelot Layne immeasurable commitment and contribution to Trinidad and Tobago culture is still recognized by only a small percentage of the nation to this day. He is considered as one of the greatest musicians to have ever come out of the Caribbean, although by no stretch of imagination the wealthiest. Lancelot Layne was a man who was obsessed with national unity and saw no problem with ethnic groups uniting. Lancelot Layne tirelessly and assiduously aimed to be an educator to his people.
Cover artwork by Peter Doig