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Song Snack of the Day: “Oh Bumbo Klaat”

March 2, 2011

Bob Marley:Peter Tosh as Run DMC:Public Enemy.

While reggae legend Bob Marley spread songs of free love across the globe, fellow Jamaican Peter Tosh was singing songs of bold, unapologetic change.

Don’t get me wrong, Marley’s political messages were well ingrained in his musical catalog, however Marley was never the oppressor, always one to salvage the love present rather than the love possible.

Tosh's songs are an ugly undertone to the cheery, more accessible side of reggae that is Bob Marley. However, humanity may have a greater debt to the man who gave "The Wailers" their truest meaning.

Tosh on the other hand, the artist who brings us today’s ‘song snack of the day,’ should be remembered for his militant approach to societal change. It’s funny to see a humanitarian, singing the peaceful melodies of reggae, while referencing menstruation and dirty rags.

That’s right.

‘Bumbo klaat’ is actually translated to ‘blood clot‘ in Jamaican vernacular. However, the term is also a popular exit for vulgarity, as in ‘shit’ or ‘fuck.’ In the song, Tosh’s choruses are lined with these words, as he explains his disgust with society’s imperfections.

It should also be noted that the ‘Ras Klaat,’ the end of each choral line, is translated to ‘ass cloth’ or ‘pussy cloth.’ It’s possible that Tosh was suggesting a hypothetical ‘rag’ as a solution to ending the Earth’s endlessly bleeding problems.

Female menstruation is considered by Jamaican men to be one of the most unpleasant and utterly disgusting things of all. Therefore, Tosh’s comparison of menstruation to the world’s problems is quite the noise maker; especially if you consider how objectionable these lyrics were, even in the early 1980s.

In an age where many barriers have not only been broken, they have been reduced to dust, raise a toast to one of the original trailblazers of the reggae genre, Mr. Peter Tosh. It takes loud, sometimes obnoxious lyrics to catch our attentions and ultimately forge change. Tosh found a way to capture us with the inviting soul of reggae music, while plugging us into the dreadful realizations of the world around us.

By the way, did I get you with my bloody hyperlink?

“Bumbo Klaat” was the fifth track from Tosh’s 1981 record Wanted Dread or Alive, released by EMI (U.S.) and Rolling Stones Records (Europe).

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