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Madman’s Rant - David Rudder
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Madman’s Rant – David Rudder

Singing against corruption.

The Caribbean is well-known for its infectious music. Whether it’s the vibrant clinking of a bottle and spoon, the dramatic beat of the tassa drum, the calming strum of the erhu violin, or the thunderous vibration of the steelpan, music is synonymous of a Caribbean experience. The diversity of the people is reflected in the diversity of the music found throughout the region; a fusion of African, Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, European, and Indigenous influences. Calypso music is one of the most symbolic genres, having gained international popularity since the early 1900s, after it was developed in Trinidad and Tobago in the 17th century, traced to the West African Kaiso music brought by enslaved Africans.

Overtime, there have been countless Calypsonians who have done the genre proud, by sharing positive or noteworthy messages about society and politics. One such person is David Rudder. Born in Belmont, Trinidad and Tobago, Rudder grew up surrounded by pannists at the nearby Belmont panyard, started singing at a young age, and even sang backup vocals for Lord Kitchener, who is known as the grandmaster of calypso. His music has been coloured by his various religious backgrounds – Spiritual Baptist, Anglican, and Catholic, and the authenticity of his reaching into the past and drawing on the deep African roots of the genre. With such tremendous influences around him, David Rudder became one of the most successful calypsonians in the world.

Having earned the titles of Calypso Monarch, Young King, and Road March when he officially debuted in 1986, he established himself as a calypso icon in the hearts of Caribbean people. Over twenty albums later, David Rudder is known as both a poet and a philosopher by his biggest fans, as his lyrics weave stories that are real and true, echoing the chantwells of his African ancestors. His melodies are accompanied by words which refuse to conform to the norm or convention but which also can be understood and respected by his large international audiences.

Madman’s Rant” tells such a true story and mirrors the words of Katha Upanishad, “Abiding in the midst of ignorance, thinking themselves wise and learned, fools go aimlessly hither and thither, like blind led by the blind.”

Rudder delivers the message to the listener as a passer-by  observing the ranting of a “madman.” It becomes clear that although society would casually refer to the protagonist as a “madman,” he is acutely aware of the infirmities of said society and the wrongs being dealt to the people.  David Rudder alludes to the belief that politicians are the ones who are truly ‘mad’ in society, creating and feeding mayhem. The song speaks of the false promises made by countless politicians time and time again on party platforms during election season, Vote for we and we will set you free! Anywhere you turn somebody chanting to we. Somebody promising jobs for all…He say, “If they do the crime, they going to damn well pay!” But somebody promising human rights.” Then, he states that in spite of all these promises, change is not being seen. Every election season, parties deliver impressive, colourful manifestoes, with intentions to free the people from poverty and crime, yet still, “the mortuary full with little Trinidad boys. A bullet start to whine and put an end to their joy.” Young men are the truest victims of crime in this society. As Rudder sings, “the little red silk is not dey true friend, de blue one had two extra nought on the end,” meaning that poverty is the major driving force for young people entangling themselves in a life of crime. The red silk ($1.00 bill) is all that they have access to, but this is not enough to live on, so instead, they pursue the blue silk ($100.00 bill) through crime. Oftentimes, handing over their youth to gangs. Government’s failure to deal with poverty and inequality has contributed greatly to the perpetuation of a legacy of crime among young, black boys.

The chant of this ‘madman’ is not what one would expect. Instead, it provides authentic insight into the tainted fabric of society. Rudder goes on to sing about the corruption that plagues the nation, starting from the government. “Somebody clean out the weed well fast. But somebody letting the cocaine pass. Somebody promise to abolish the tax. Somebody promise to give we the facts.” Between national accounting books being found fraudulent and being ranked 72/168 on Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index, there is no doubt that people from Trinidad and Tobago need to listen to words of this madman.



Vote for we and we will set you free!

Anywhere you turn somebody chanting to we

Somebody promising jobs for all

Some renting gun to make other people bawl

But somebody promising more police car

Somebody going to take the country far

Somebody putting all the bandits away

He say, “If they do the crime, they going to damn well pay!

But somebody promising human rights

While somebody threatening to put out your lights

The mortuary full with little Trinidad boys

A bullet start to whine and put an end to their joy

Now they lying tall for dey Mama to mourn

Dey Nike gone, dey gold teeth gone

You see they, they want dey pocket full with blue, blue silk

They want dey statue drinking full cream milk

The little red silk is not dey true friend

De blue one had two extra nought on the end

So ah tag on dey toe is now dey ticket to Hell

But look where we reach, well, well, well, well, well, well.

Ah hear a madman bawl as he spread out on a wall

He say, “This is it, this is it, this is it, I’ve been hit!

No time to give up brother, no time to quit!

Was the chant of a madman, in this tale from a strange land

Give me the chant of the madman. It’s the only salvation

Ah say the chant of a madman, in this tale from a strange land

Give me the chant of the madman, Lord, is the only salvation.

Anywhere you turn somebody chanting to we

Vote for we and we go set you free

Somebody promising natural law

Die like a yogi, end all the war

Seek inner peace, end all the pain

De same woman promising to go down again

Somebody promising to run all the bread

Somebody pushing a world class head

Somebody clean out the weed well fast

But somebody letting the cocaine pass

Somebody promise to abolish the tax

Somebody promise to give we the facts

Somebody promise to clean up the land

But in this clean land, rat still killing man

We bright little youths going to waste

Somebody dinge the smile on dey face

Somebody take “One Love” off the shelf

Then the One Love boys start to sell out dey self

Somebody going to end all this talk about race

But they can’t tell me that with a straight, straight face

Big, big men dying, the crime can’t solve

A madman rant is my only resolve

Ah hear the madman bawl

As he lie on a wall.

He say, “This is it, this is it, this is it, I’ve been hit!

But no time to give up, brother, no time to quit!

A chant of a madman in this tale from a strange land

It was a chant of a madman, in this tale from a strange land

Give me the chant of the madman. Is the only salvation.

Sounds from the Bucket

Dizzanne Billy is a Content Creator, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing professional. She is an Outreach and Communications Officer at Climate Tracker and a youth leader in the field of environmental activism. Dizzanne graduated from the University of the West Indies with an MSc. in Global Studies, focusing her research on global environmental governance. She is passionate about writing, environmental advocacy, and travel.
    5 Comments on this post.
  • Avatar
    D’Izraiel Billy
    10 July 2016 at 1:41 am
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    Tune. Rudder is a boss. Good read.

  • Avatar
    Madman’s Rant – David Rudder – Write It Down
    16 July 2016 at 4:33 am
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    […] This article was originally published on Words in the Bucket. […]

  • Avatar
    26 February 2018 at 11:53 am
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    I came across this page by accident. After reading I’ve realized that it was good fortune.

    You’ve provided a thought provoking analysis. Armed and ready for class later.

    • WiB Team
      WiB Team
      28 February 2018 at 3:03 pm
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      That’s great Andrea! Good luck with your class 🙂

  • Avatar
    Diary of a mothering worker. May 21, 2019. | grrlscene
    21 May 2019 at 11:08 pm
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    […] for we and we will set you free”, sings David Rudder in the Madman’s Rant, parodying election-time […]

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