Beijing had best ready itself for some serious riddims. Reggae elder statesmen Alpha Blondy has announced a four city China tour that includes a September 16 stop in Beijing, according to his website. The promoter tells TBJ that venues have yet to be confirmed for each of the Middle Kingdom stops, but such details will soon be forthcoming.

Born in 1953 in the Ivory Coast city of Dimbokro, Seydou Koné went on to study in English at New York City's Hunter College, before enrolling in the Columbia University American Language Program. During his time in the Big Apple, he befriended several Rastafarians, and even went on to travel to Jamaica to see reggae perform first hand.

Back in his homeland, he took up the stage name Alpha Blondy and released his first album, Jah Glory!, in 1982. The LP's title track became an anthem for the disenfranchised, thanks to its refrain about not wanting to "die in poverty." But its most impactful cut is arguably "Brigadier Sabari," a scathing lyrical satire of police brutality.

He quickly became popular in the Ivory Coast, and his music began to catch on with reggae fans in West Africa and Europe. He followed up Jah Glory! with Cocody Rock in 1984, venturing to Paris for initial recording sessions before moving on to Jamaica, to cut the title track with The Wailers, undoubtedly the world's most famous reggae outfit thanks to their work with the one and only Bob Marley.

Aside from his boldly political approach, Alpha Blondy is also known for singing in his native language, Dioula, along with French and in English, and occasionally even Arabic and Hebrew.

This is a can't miss event for Beijing reggae fans, who rarely have the chance to attend such shows in the capital, much less one with one of the genre's most esteemed stars.

You can stream some of Alpha Blondy's biggest hits on his Youku page here. Anyone looking to learn more about Alpha Blondy's storied career can watch a recent interview with him here [VPN required].

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Photo: CCTV-Africa

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