(from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2000)
He means a spontaneous lyrical battle, a "vocal duel." Lord Invader vs. Mighty Dictator. His intention is war. This historical skirmish took place in NYC circa 1958.
Lord Invader (Rupert Westmore Grant) and Mighty Dictator (Kenny St. Bernard) are flyting together on the song MY INTENTION IS WAR. The musicians are ammunition in their vocals. Duke Of Iron (Cecil Anderson) accompanies on piano, Lawrence on guitar, and Mr. Ford on bass.
Here's the lyrics for this picong.
Yes, my mother dead and my father disown me / What am I to do? / My mother died and my father disown me / What am I to do? / I am livin' in this world, I ain't got nobody / Not a brother, sister, nor cousin, family / War and rebellion when I meet calypsonian / My intention is war.
Dictator, you insolent boobie, delirious mule / Audacious slum monger, you're out of rule / Your abnormal expressions worth no while in hearing / Descend at once, Dictator, and stop your sneering / You gabilous squabbler, illiterate ape / Now you are in a terrible scrape / Dictator, you resemble Manuel Gogo / A fowl thief from Tobago / My intention is war.
Now Lord Invader, why you pick on me? / Remember that I was near your family / Take it from me in calypso / Remember me once in San Fernando / Now believe I can give you the score / Remember, you were sleeping on the floor / I used to mash your head / Going to sleep on my bed / My intention is war.
Now calypso singing is such a technical thing / It was not made for one and every to sing / How by the heavens can this songster win? / Except by necromancy, that is a sin / My head is like a book that is well compact / My tongue is like a gun that never yet snap / And I'm sorry, Dictator, / If he molest with Invader / My intention is war.
Now Lord Invader, fighting makes no sense / Why not say something of eloquence? / Talk about the boys playing the music / And with that, please do not do any trick / Remember that I am a Lord / And on the bass, we have Mr. Ford / The Duke Of Iron of calypso / The master playing the piano.
Now Dictator, what a boobie / You're a calypsonian [ain't?] / To sing this verse I give you satisfaction / Hear the gentleman there, he's sitting up there / Sitting there, without any fear / Rhyme a verse extemporaneously / As to prove your singing ability / And if you give me satisfaction / You're known as the champion / My intention is war.
To sing on the gentleman, I'll take the choice / He's my friend, his name is Lawrence / He's a very great guitar player / And you can take this tip from the Dictator / On him I have to make no attack / He's sitting there all dressed in black / And I'll tell you why, he's a chap / He's wearing a red tie / My intention is war.
I think we goin' out.
Now Mighty Dictator, put your hands in mine / That verse that you sung is well, superfine / You know that I know you in Trinidad / And you are king in singing calypso ballad.
Now Invader, you too are really great / And my statement no one can adjudicate / Put your hand in mine / Let our friendship remain sublime.
War, war, war, war, war -- la da day, la da doy / La da day, la da day, la da doy.
The excellent booklet that accompanies this CD from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is full of information, providing details of recording, biographies of musicians, cultural and historical context, lyrics, discography, and even a bibliography.
The notes were written by Dr. John Cowley, Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. Cowley seems to think that the Mighty Dictator won this battle, because "essentially Invader withdraws." [p.19, Calypso In New York]
Huh? I thought Invader won. Better vocab-flex, insults, and he boasts through simile. Plus, he gets the last word.
Calypso is complicated. And fascinating.
The Snark playlist for TUESDAY, JULY 20, 2010.
The Black Seeds -- THE BUBBLE -- Solid Ground (2009, Easy Star)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds -- IDIOT PRAYER -- The Boatman's Call (1997, Reprise)
Citywide Vacuum -- WAKABOWA -- From The Tank: 17 Unreleased Tracks From The Windsor Music Collective (2010, Sharktank Productions)
The Mongols -- SLEEPWALK -- It Came From Canada, Volume 3 (1987, Og Music)
Los Amigos Invisibles -- Ultra-Funk -- The New Sound Of The Venezuelan Gozadera (1998, Luakabop)
Efan -- PICTURE -- Electro-Lava (2007, ind.)
Northern Portrait -- CRIMINAL ART LOVERS. -- Criminal Art Lovers (2009, Matinee Recordings)
Pleasure Seekers -- NEVER THOUGHT YOU'D LEAVE ME -- Friday Night At The Hideout: Boss Detroit Garage 1964-67 (2001, Norton Records)
Dubmatix feat. Anthony B -- WHO A DI BOSS DUB -- Atomic Subsonic (2006, 7 Arts Entertainment)
Lonesome Lefty -- DIGA DIGA DOO -- From myspace
Seán Cullen -- PUNKS -- I Am A Human Man (2008, The Orb Inc.)
Lord Invader, feat. Mighty Dictator -- MY INTENTION IS WAR -- Calypso In New York (2000, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) [orig. 1958]
The Glitch Mob -- DRIVE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT -- Drink The Sea (2010, Glass Air)
Dry & Heavy -- RADICAL STAR -- One Punch (1999, Green Tea)
The Latinaires -- CREATION -- Broasted Or Fried: Latin Breakbeats, Basslines, & Boogaloo (2000, Harmless) [orig. 1968, Fania]
Wanda Jackson -- KANSAS CITY -- Queen Of Rockabilly (2001, Ace) [orig. 1961, Capitol]
Sugar Minott -- TAKE IT SLOW -- Binghi Riddim (2008, MRecords)
Konono N°1 -- GUIYOME -- Assume Crash Position (2010, Crammed Discs)
Fat Freddys Drop -- WILD WIND -- Dr. Boondigga & The Big BW (2009, The Drop)
Thanks for listening!