Smoke - Routes

Smoke - Routes

 

10 November 1995. Eight men of the Ogoni people, one of the many indigenous peoples of Nigeria, are hanging by as many slip-knots. They are leaders of the MOSOP, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, and they have just been executed, with the charge of being the instigators of the killing of other four Ogoni leaders, unfavorable to the movement’s line of action. A ninth man, a writer, poet and television writer, is going to face the same fate.

 

That man is called Ken Saro-Wiwa.

 

He dedicated most of his life to fight against the Anglo-Dutch company Shell, against the human rights violations perpetrated by the company against the Ogoni people, and against the oil exploitation of the region of the Niger delta, that polluted the air and the soil, devastating the economy.

 

Wiwa gathered together more than 300,000 Ogonis and inspired them to march to ask for their rights, but what he gained was only the military occupation of the Ogoniland and to be arrested. Shell will always deny its connivance in the activists' execution, but in 2009 it paid more than 15 million dollars to not have to appear in the trial that took place to clarify the responsibilities for the tortures to the Ogoni people.   

 

 

Manchuria. During an indeterminate period under the regime of Mao, a man named Wang worked in the coal mines. He left his home and his family and travelled all over the country to find a job to sustain his child. China went through war, and under the guidance of Mao it experienced the consequences of the Great Leap Forward first, and of the Cultural Revolution second. In Manchuria temperatures can reach -30° and, even though it is the most industrialized region of the country, people lived under prohibitive conditions. But Wang worked hard. He made every type of sacrifice to safeguard his child’s future and faced these sacrifices in a way that only a father would.

 

 

Sierra Leone. A little girl is begging in the streets. She lives from hand to mouth, collecting food from the garbage. She’s often victim of abuses and violence. She sleeps on the street, out in the cold, thinking how to survive day by day.

A boy, on the other hand, who is ten or so years old at the most, has been deprived of his childhood. He has been transformed into a death machine. He is a child soldier. Cocaine and gunpowder erase his fear, so he can be sent on the frontline.

This is the destiny of many children in Sierra Leone and in all of Africa, and we have to save them, because children are our future and we can’t stand here looking around with idle hands.

 

 

Smoke tells us these and other stories in their second album Routes.

 

The band was born in 2004 in Lodi, not far from Milan, from the collaboration of Alessandro “Ale” Soresini and Marco Zaghi (formerly members of Reggae National Tickets) and Gianluca “Pelo” Pelosi. The three decided to form a band, called other musicians and found their first singer in Dre Love, with whom they composed their first album Smoke, published in 2006.

 

Right after the publication of the record Dre Love left the band to follow his own path, and Smoke, left without a singer and with gigs already fixed, found their lifeline in Sean Martin. South-African by origin, pioneer of rap in Italy with Radical Stuff first and Melma & Merda later, Sean found in Smoke the group with which he would have his first reggae experience.

 

Back in 2009, after two years of work, Routes already contained in the title all its meaning. First, it is a roots reggae record (and the assonance with the title is not a coincidence): forget digital sounds and raggamuffin. Then, it is the encounter of the Routes of a reggae band with a singer with a soul background.

 

But, above all, Routes is a record that intersects the routes of many stories: from apartheid in South Africa (To Them) to the fight of Wiwa against the oil exploitation in Nigeria (Ken Saro-Wiwa), from the safeguarding of children (Save All the Kids, inspired by the book “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” by Ishmael Beah) to the consequences of the Mao regime in China (Iron Man Wang). It is a record that reflects on universal values and on harmony among all the living creatures (IslandThe Great WandererIf), taking inspiration also from the Genesis (Let There Be Light).

 

It is a record that wants to speak to everybody, facing the problems of the whole world and not only of a part of it, because the world is seen as one body, and if a part of it becomes ill, all the world suffers.

 

Routes is a complete record, made of good music, of good lyrics, of a combination of songs that succeeds in keeping a unique style without seeming boring. It is a record both profound and captivating, Italian, but with an international flavor.

 

In other words, it is a record to listen to (and, if possible, to have).


 
 



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