Last Disciple rubs shoulders with his heroes
Over the past 15 years, Last Disciple has made many a trod to Jamaica, home of the roots reggae sound he has loved since his teens. During that time, the American singjay has shared the mic with some of the music’s greatest artistes and musicians including Linval Thompson.
On ‘Smoking Kush’, his latest song, Last Disciple, Thompson and dub poet Meeka Nyota glorify the wonders of marijuana, or ganja as it is known in Jamaica.
Last Disciple, who is from Greenville, South Carolina, was introduced to Thompson by producer Everton “Caveman” Moore on one of his trips to Kingston, Jamaica’s capital. He is a fan of the singer’s 1978 song, ‘I Love Marijuana’, and was excited to work with him.
“It was a great feeling recording with Linval because he is a true favourite of mine with his unique revolutionary style of reggae. The link came through Caveman. Cave and I thought for a few minutes who we needed (then) Cave said, ‘Linval’, and it was like, ‘aha’! They’re close friends and Linval liked the idea and thought it was a hit immediately,” Last Disciple recalled.
Meeka Nyota, a talented dub poet, was brought in to add a “different dimension” to the song.
‘Smoking Kush’ has done well on the South Florida Top 25 Reggae Chart, giving Last Disciple his most visible song in Jamaican circles. It has enjoyed steady rotation at dances in Kingston, including on the mighty Stone Love.
To date, Last Disciple has released two albums – ‘Babylon Fall’ in 2014, and ‘Rise Up’, which came out in 2021. The latter was largely recorded in Jamaica and features some of roots reggae’s finest musicians such as keyboardist Franklin “Bubbler” Waul, guitarist Winston “Bo Pee” Bowen and drummer Kush McAnuff.
‘Smoking Kush’ does the rounds at a time when ganja has been decriminalized in Jamaica. That process started in 2015 in the Jamaican legislature and effectively ended prosecution of persons arrested with small amounts of the weed.
That’s music to the ears of Last Disciple, who was born Brad Brandt.
“The herb needs to be decriminalised and legalised and allow people to stop suffering and having their freedom taken from them, or pay fines for the cultivation and use of this healing herb,” he reasoned.
Some of Last Disciple’s biggest influences were advocates for ‘freeing up’ ganja. They include Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Israel Vibration, as well as Thompson, a pivotal figure in roots reggae’s transition to dancehall in the 1980s.
In addition to making his name as a vocalist with hits like ‘Train to Zion’ and ‘Look How mi Sexy’, Thompson produced countless hit songs throughout that period, many of them for Henry “Junjo” Lawes’ Volcano label.
For Last Disciple, rubbing shoulders with his heroes has made his trips to Jamaica worthwhile.
“I love and I am honoured to work with the Jamaica born-and raised-in-the-culture artistes and producers. Jamaica’s music can be imitated but not duplicated,” he said.
(Photo courtesy of Last Disciple)
Last Disciple, Thompson & Meeka Nyota – Smoking Kush