By Liz Tracy
By David Rolland
By Alex Rendon
By Terrence McCoy
By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
After finding new singer Junior Reid -- a less-flighty Rose sound-alike -- Black Uhuru entered another fruitful phase with 1986's Brutal and 1987's Positive, plus accompanying dub versions that took tunes like "Painful" into an ethereal realm. Within two years, visa problems had prohibited Reid from touring, so he was out; Jones succumbed to cancer in January 1990. Undaunted, Simpson re-formed the original trio with Spencer and Dennis and forged on that same year with the reunion album Now. The three stuck it out to scale some old heights with Iron Storm, a cracking 1991 offering, but following 1994's Strongg, the partnership deteriorated once again.
Simpson laughs and laughs when questioned about his activities during the interim, as if it's the dumbest question in the world. "I've been kicking back in Jamaica!" he says, adding that he did have to take his old buddies Spencer and Dennis to court to fight for -- and win -- the right to use the Black Uhuru trademark. "Then those guys run away to America," Simpson adds. "Since the end of court, I don't see them anymore. Everything went bad for a while, from 1994 until last year. But now, I'm ready to work."
With Dynasty riding on the musical and production talents of Sly and Robbie, Black Uhuru is returning to its seminal start. "From the past right into the present, yeah," affirms Simpson. But it's a different world now; Jamaican music is more likely to brag and boast about dick size and faggot-beating over a tired beat than tout positivity, and Simpson doesn't hang onto a utopian vision of one love.
"Reggae music is not all that powerful in the music world," he cautions, cynically aware that neither the street violence he witnesses weekly nor the world violence he reads about will be quelled by a tropical Rasta tonic. "Reggae gets recognized, it gets some respect, but people should not live in a dream world about that."