We have been preparing for a long time to write this text, and we simply must not remain idle, beyond all emotions. And I don’t know why tonight I’ve chosen to write it down, but it will be in one breath.
Vaughn Benjamin, founder of “Midnite” and “Akae Beka” left us on the fourth of November 2019 at the age of fifty. The exact reason for his death was never stated, there are only rumors that Vaughn had been ill for some time (from tumor).
But the actual reasons don’t matter, the man worked tirelessly. From the age of ten people said that he was an extremely talented child who had an incredible way of expressing himself and that expression he had completely passed on to his music. Today, various videos from the past testify of Vaughn’s beginning when he would seize the opportunity between and after the performer to show his talent. From the beginning, he knew his style and his direction, and he nurtured it to the very end. The famous “Reasoning”, or enlightenment, is something that Vaughan has practiced in both interviews and music. Each of his texts, each of his interviews, is dedicated to spreading an idea, an idea that will be left behind to future generations.
And that’s the difference we’re talking about, very rare are the bands and performers in reggae music that you can recognize with your eyes closed, those who did not make music for business, but because of their own beliefs and actions past their time. This was done by Bob Marley, Mutabaraka, the Abyssinians and other irreplaceable icons of reggae music. Everything else is beautiful, by the beach … but temporary and without a real meaning.
Midnite, Akae Beka and Vaughn Benjamin left 60 albums (not counting collaborations), of which 11 are called “Akae Beka”. The first album (Unpolished 1997) and the second (Ras Mek Peace 1999) are something unique, and in my opinion, best of their work that they never managed to achieve again.
That was the seed of a life that later evolved into something I couldn’t understand. For example the track “Syllable” from the album “Anthology”.
I can talk endlessly about what Vaughn Benjamin has left behind as part of his legacy, and he has left a lot.
What I particularly appreciate about people like Vaughn is his dedication and absolute devotion to everything. He had two exceptional focuses that set him apart completely, one was his music and the other one was his private life. I have already said about music, but about his private life I have not. He had one wife and 11 children just like the albums (11) under the name of “Akae Beka” (name of the band originates from Bible).
I was fortunate to hear this being live in France twice, and to experience that religious rite which seemed like a concert. You could see entire families, from children, parents and their parents in the public. Vaughn and the band would just walk into the stage and without any greeting and contact with the audience they began to separate the souls from the body with the music, at that time I was not yet aware of that ritual. I would turn around, and see the whole hall crying. I am not a person who experiences emotions through crying, but I do experience them in my own ideas. Then, at the very end, the musicians would stop playing and let Vaughn take the whole scene. He would ‘preach’ the track ‘New Flower’ or ‘Addis Ababa’ for 20 minutes, only on the microphone. People would stand hypnotized as Vaughn overwhelmed you with his not-from-this-world emotions.
After that, music was never the same.
Another thing that struck me as a boy is his love, this is a man who does not exude even minimal aggression. For example, you know when people come from India to you with a story that you should not be affected by bad influences, neither become aggressive, that everything should be resolved peacefully … Vaughn had that peaceful aura, but he was a man who would sing about his “destructive forces” to protect a loved one in a song “Empress” dedicated to his daughter.
” I will rage I will rage I will rage yeah
I will storm and thunder for you
Yeah yo my life for you
Yeah yo my time for you “.
And that is something I can relate to, and that is why “Ras Mek Peace” is my favorite album of his where all words are sensible and emotions are raw. Even a simple and a common man like me can feel that.
Midnite is something that touched me from the very beginning, some events in my life have only strengthened my love for this timeless band.
Tank you for the music and thank you for the time, it was a privilege to live in an era with Vaugn and his music.
Author: Jah Tooth