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The African Brothers

Want Some Freedom

Media Page

The African Brothers were formed in 1969 by three Kingston teenagers, Lincoln "Sugar" Minott, Winston "Tony Tuff" Morris, and Derrick "Bubbles" Howard. The three met when Howard went to play ball and came upon Minott singing along to the guitar accompaniment of Morris. The three became fast friends, constant companions, and musical co-conspirators. Influenced by harmony trios such as the Abyssinians, the Heptones, and the Gaylads, the three friends worked assiduously at learning to sing and arrange harmonies like those esteemed groups. As the three youths were very conscious of their roots, and were like brothers to each other, they came up with the name African Brothers.

When the group began, Tony Tuff was the most accomplished musician and writer of the three, so he was often the one to come up with the basic foundations of their songs. Sugar and Bubbles contributed harmonies and ideas for arrangements, and the more the group rehearsed together, the tighter they became. It didn't take long for them to begin attracting interest from local record producers in Kingston, including Rupie Edwards, for whom they voiced their first single "Mystery Of Nature" in 1970. Soon they were also recording for the likes of Clement "Coxsone" Dodd and Winston "Merritone" Blake, as well as Micron Music, for whom they recorded their hits "Righteous Kingdom" and "Lead Us Father."

The African Brothers were also working with many of the most accomplished musicians in Kingston, such as Aston and Carlton Barrett, Sly and Robbie, and the Soul Syndicate band, and they gained a following as one of the top singing groups around. Their hits "Party Night" and "Hold Tight" regularly mashed up the dance all over the island. By the early to mid seventies, the group decided to pool their monies and start producing records for themselves. From this fertile period comes some of their best work. "Torturing," "Want Some Freedom," and "Practice What You Preach" are all good examples of how the young men had developed as singers, writers, producers, and arrangers, and the songs' themes reflect their independence as well. While many producers in Jamaica made offers to them to record full-length albums, they never felt that they were getting a square deal, so they turned them down.

By the end of the decade, each of the three had decided to pursue solo work, and the African Brothers stopped recording together. Sugar Minott went on to become one of the most beloved singers in reggae history, with hits like "Oh Mr. DC," "Never Gonna Give Jah Up," and "Herbsman Hustling" running the dance every time the DJ gives them a spin. Tony Tuff, while less prolific, continued to release quality music from both the UK and JA, and had big hits in yard with "Water Pumpee" and "Mix Me Down."

Derrick Howard concentrated his efforts as a producer, working with artists such as Gregory Isaacs, Sanchez, and Cocoa Tea.

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