Don’t Do That – Link & Chain (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Reggae music, like soul before it and the rap and hip-hop scenes that have evolved since, has always been music that beats with a conscious heart. But then such music has always been born of real struggles and Don’t Do That is Link & Chain‘s response to just one aspect of that struggle.

Don’t Do That is a musical response to the gun crime situation on their home island of Jamaica, a seemingly endless wave of youth violence that results in the deaths of far too many taken far too soon. The message is a simple one, we must learn to settle our differences through reason and discussion rather than the rash actions and tragic outcomes which result from people believing that a gun can ever be the answer.

As always, their music is joyous and upbeat, a perfect musical vehicle for the message of peace and understanding that it delivers. Basses pulse, guitars skank and chime, beats punctuate and brass breezes through and always it is the vocal blends, a merging of hope and harmony, poignancy and infectiousness which is the focal point. Link&Chain have always been on a mission of positivity and peace, in their own words looking to “write their own unique spiritual, danceable music, designed to uplift, educate & entertain.” And Don’t Do That is certainly all of those things.

It is also an extension of their Rastafari belief which holds dear important factors such as love and unity, community and positivity and to this end, they are trying to change the mindset of the younger generation. 

Of course, Link&Chain make this blend of upbeat vibes and deadly serious message, this blend of entertainment and education seem easy. After all, they have been at this a long time and since starting out as protegees of producer Lawrence “Jack Ruby” Lindo, the man behind Burning Spear’s seminal album Marcus Garvey, and have been releasing albums since the late 80s and they are now regarded as being “As good as any (band) the island’s ever produced”.

And what keeps Link&Chain so popular and so relevant is their ability to move with the times. Musically they lean into reggae traditions but they also reflect the changes that are ongoing in the genre. But more than that, lyrically they speak for everyone, writing songs which everyone can relate to and talking about important issues and sharing those ideas via the most engaging, infectious, cool and creative slices of music.

Music offers a platform like few other creative outlets. And the lesson here is this. If you are going to be allowed to stand on that soapbox and speak to the world, you might as well have something of real value to say.

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