We talk to Maxi Priest and Jonathan Emile who collaborated on Emile’s recently released “Babylon is Falling” Remix.
Reggae music has always been at the forefront of social and political issues. One example is Bob Marley’s participation in the Amandla Festival of 1979 in Boston. There, Marley performed in support of the anti-apartheid movement and the liberation of South Africa.
A few short months ago, the entire world was shaken when George Floyd lost his life. People protested, buildings and businesses burned – all while in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Race relations were already strained, but this event managed to trigger both a national and international outcry for change and justice.
“Babylon is Falling” is a song that has put a voice to the change. The song features 2 artists (Jonathan Emile and Maxi Priest) from different generations coming together to speak on what they’ve been through, and what’s to come.
We held reasoning on the following with Maxi Priest and Jonathan Emile:
- How did the Remix to “Babylon is Falling” featuring Maxi Priest come about?
- Different flavors of racism in the UK, Canada, and the Southern U.S.
- The concept behind “Spaces In Between,” Jonathan’s debut reggae album.
- Maxi Priest’s excitement for his forthcoming album, “United State of Mind.”
- Why are some Caribbean people afraid to go back to the region?
- Billboard’s disrespect towards dancehall culture with their Verzuz cover.
- What is the responsibility of musicians in fighting oppression?
- The problem with trying to control musicians’ creative output.
‘Babylon is Falling’ Remix – Jonathan Emile ft Maxi Priest
Two Artists from Different Generations Come Together to Sing About the State of the World Today:
Canadian-Jamaican artist Jonathan Emile and British-Jamaican artist Maxi Priest came together to create the Remix to “Babylon is Falling”, a track on Emile’s new album, “Spaces In Between.” The album is currently distributed by MindPeaceLove/Tuff Gong International. While the remix to the song was recorded back in January 2020, neither artist knew at the time that the song would become so relevant a few months later.
Emile is a bilingual (English & French), multi-talented singer-songwriter, producer, and Cancer survivor. His commanding voice resonates at the start of the song and draws the listener in immediately, asking if they know what their worth is, and then mentions the capitalistic society in which we live. He then explains that this can’t go on and eventually, something has to change (Babylon will fall).
“Growing up Black and Jamaican in Montreal, racism has been a fact of life. The institutional side was hidden but the interpersonal is still always present. As a Black person, you know you need to move cautiously to gain access, be accommodated, or have the opportunity to be treated with respect. This caution manifests in how you speak, how you read a room, and how you respond to racist banter or microaggressions.
Knowing that you’re seen as the other, alien, or ‘less than’ is at the forefront as you face people’s prejudice, always having to be an ambassador for your race. You become a master negotiator, code switcher, and an expert in de-escalation to preserve your body and reputation. This is a key concept in Spaces-In-Between. I am fortunate to have parents who provided me with tactics and strategies to avoid and cope with racism as a young Black Jamaican. The knowledge I received was built on their hard work and determination.”Jonathan Emile
Grammy-nominated Maxi Priest, best known for his Lover’s Rock and R&B/Reggae fusion tunes like “Close to You’ and “Wild World” comes in next, but he’s not singing about love this time. In fact, he’s Deejaying (rapping), which in itself is a rare sound for him. He rides the riddim with the smoothness that he’s best known for, but the content of the lyrics speak of the things he’s both experienced himself throughout the years growing up in England, and what he continues to see around him today. His message, like so many, is that he’s tired.
“Here we go again – We stand firm we nah ease up the pressure – Just like a volcano bubbling over – to take it to the heights you have fi step like a soldier”Maxi Priest
Although both Emile and Priest come from different generations, they have many things in common, including being of Jamaican heritage, and growing up and living outside of Jamaica, which has impacted them.
Like so many people that live abroad, there are mixed feelings right now with what is happening with the racial, economic, and spiritual climate, and the uneasiness that it brings. “Babylon is Falling” is a song that resonates with everyone, no matter where you come from, or what age you are.