PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Though she grew up on the party sound of soca in her native Trinidad and Tobago, singer Cherise Ransome has always kept tabs on serious issues. Some of the most controversial incidents of the last decade inspired her latest song, Police in The Hills.
The reggae single, co-produced by Jamaicans Delroy Pottinger and Herman “Bongo Herman” Davis, was released on January 1. The deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement in their country, drove Ransome to write and record the song.
“I was able to follow the Trayvon Martin incident in Florida pretty closely. There were many incidents of the killing of black men following that, for example, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown to name a few that sparked outrage and clearly demonstrated the increasing trend of police brutality targeting young black men,” said Ransome.
The deaths of these men sparked protests in major American centers such as New York, Baltimore and the US Midwest. As protests raged, the outside world took stock of the police’s role, not only in the US, but in their own countries.
Ransome was one of many people looking at the big picture.
“It’s not just about police brutality. Injustice, on the whole, makes me uneasy. Either of these men could have been my brother or close relative,” she said. “There is a general lack of communication by the police. The wielding of power is very much imbalanced in the police and civilian equation.”
From the town of Couva in west-central Trinidad, Ransome was raised on calypso and soca, the dominant sounds of her homeland. But she also listens to a lot of reggae; from Bob Marley to Chronixx.
With reggae’s reputation as protest music, it seemed natural for her to use that sound to drive Police in The Hills which is released by Island Rich Entertainment.
Ransome recorded the song in Kingston at Anchor Studios where some of dancehall’s biggest hit songs were cut during the 1990s. She was backed by several of reggae’s top musicians including Davis on percussions, saxophonist Dean Fraser, bassist Mikey Fletcher, drummer Kirk Bennett and keyboardist Franklin Waul.