Established in 2000 and based in Melbourne, Crown Ruler has become a beacon in Australia for obscure and rare records. Giving a spapshot to their world, co-founder – and recent Diggers Directory guest – Jeremy Spellacey has curated a select few of said records for Spacetalk on the new Crown Ruler Sound compilation.
It’s rare to come across such an expansive collection where every track demands attention, but ‘Can I Get A Witness’ by Brother Resistance was a standout. The Trinidadian musician, also known as Roy Lewis or Lutalo Masimba, was one of the first artists born out of the rapso genre, a hybrid of the native calypso and rap, originating in the 70s. Written and produced in London during a period of personal exile, ‘Can I Get A Witness’, “brings a message from the oppressed and dispossessed all over the world”, as Lewis told Spacetalk before the release.
A symbol of black resistance, the bones of the song are a call-and-response chorus as Lewis demands a witness for the International Monetary Fund’s controlling of economies and, by default, the resulting poverty. The politically conscious tone of the song is juxtaposed with the reggae-disco sound of the Caribbean islands. A solid two-beat snare and slack bass line run throughout, whilst a melodic panpipe phrase and just the smallest hint of steel drums in the follow each chorus. “This is the sound of Rapso”, Lewis tells Spacetalk, “the power of the word in the riddum of the word, the poetry of calypso. Rapso…the voice of the people in the heart of the struggle for true liberation.” Despite the conscious undercurrent, the track remains massively danceable, and shows the potency when both elements combine.