Free is an auspicious introduction to the band, a wistful yet defiant anthem about resiliency and striving in modern mayhem. It looks back, contextualizing the struggles of ancestors and lamenting how freedom has still not been attained. This reflection prompts a different kind of introspection, a nostalgic desire to revert to the innocence of childhood, a temporary freedom from the chaotic, cutthroat adult world. The chorus poetically expresses the yearning of wanting to soar in the sky like a bird while your actual circumstances are more akin to trudging forward terrestrially barefoot, the soles of your feet scalded.
Most of us can relate to this message of dreaming big and having to reconcile those dreams with our harsher, imperfect reality. But while this may resonate with anyone on a personal level, the juxtaposition of Martin Luther King’s dream with Trayvon Martin’s death reminds us that the song is more about the collective dreams of the descendants of African slavery and how the promise of equality remains unfortunately unfulfilled. Though it may be painful to dream of better, if we stop, it will never be actualized. While we have to confront and navigate the constraining system with a survivalist’s frame of mind, we should remember that spiritual freedom can grant us the wings we need to soar.
It is for this survivalist frame of mind that The Tuff Gang is also launching alongside “Free”, the #DWEAT – “We eat what we grow” campaign promoting pro-activity and productivity. #Dweat encourages urban back yard, container, rooftop farming. The objective of this is to actively engage 3-5 urban youths from Papine, St. Andrew to work together to create an edible garden in their back yard/a central community location; encouraging them directly and the fans indirectly, to follow the adage ‘eat what you grow and grow what you eat’. Sharing acquired knowledge of the power and goodness of food. Fans can look to the website and facebook for updates, videos and photos. The time is now, The Tuff Gang affirms we are Free and commit to #DWEAT’ because, in order to get to the top of the mountain we must first start the climb. Why throw it when you can grow it?
Two official verisions of “Free” have been released for digital distribution. The song itself is a live rendition of a fusion of Hip-Hop, Rock, and Roots-Rock-Reggae with the featured drumming of Michael “Genius” Graham.
The studio release was recorded by Lyvestone Records & mixed/mastered by Shaka ‘Top Cruz” out of New York. Also available is an invigorating one-take recording mixed at Sly & Robbie’s studio by Gary Sutherland,sound engineering expert of Tuff Gong International; the birthplace of immortal songs like “Redemption Song”, “Buffalo Soldier” and “No Woman Nuh Cry”. Sutherland has also worked with Reggae luminaries like Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, Marcia Griffith, Buju Banton, Freddie McGregor, Garnett Silk and Dennis Brown. The name The “Tuff Gang” is an ancestral call, a reclaiming of a heritage for group leader Asadenaki, son of Reggae legend and pioneer Bunny Wailer. Before the name “Tuff Gong” was associated with The Wailers, it was first “Tough Gang”. The Tuff Gang continues the lineage for a new generation.