Traffic was thick now. Llewis turned up the crappy radio in the van as we moved toward the hotel. The DJ played a song called “Slow Motion” by Vybz Kartel, probably the hottest dancehall singer in Jamaica right now. At that moment, Vybz was in jail, suspected (in the vaguest terms) of having gotten involved in Dudus-related violence. “But we’re hoping he’ll get out soon,” said Llewis as he drove. “Maybe this Friday.” This was the music Llewis loved best, not the old stuff (which he knew and respected). If the Wailers were playing now, this is what they’d be into. A young couple in a car next to us grinned and bobbed their heads to it as we rolled by. I’d never been wild about dancehall, but now I the last wailer realized it was because I’d never really heard dancehall. You can’t just “listen” to dancehall. It happens; you have to be there for it. The DJ was mixing together three or four different songs. Kartel’s hypnotic voice floated over the top of beats that would suddenly vanish, leaving only spacey bass-throbs, as the words kept running. “So this is now?” I asked. “Right?” “This is right now,” Llewis said, stabbing his finger at the radio. “This is Right. Now.”
At the hotel, I downloaded “Slow Motion.” It was somewhat limp, in this version. It sounded like a karaoke mix of what we’d heard in the car. Vybz did not live on the computer. He was in the air over Kingston.
-“The Last Wailer”