Reggae singer-songwriter King Mas isn’t like a typical star of the genre. A member of the conscious reggae fusion movement, his work aims not just to entertain but to heal. So his tune about Ota Benga, a Congolese pygmy whose village was slaughtered before he was captured, enslaved and put on display at various American zoos, is a natural fit.
“‘Ota Benga Smile’ is a look at an aspect of our story as Africans in America that forces us to face the horrific reality that we were widely considered ‘scientifically’ subhuman until relatively recently,” King Mas explained of how this song relates to conscious reggae fusion, which is also known as reggae revival.
“Using a Reggae/Hip-Hop beat (produced by my brother Mitymaose) as a vehicle to deconstruct Ota Benga’s experience and how it ties into our current situation in America, created a perfect medium for healing through sound vibration.”
Filmmaker and photographer Alexander Fort was tapped to direct the music video, which premiered on YouTube Monday, Oct. 30. Fort said Mas was inspired to tackled Benga’s story after reading the biography, “The Pygmy in the Zoo.”
“The thing that stuck out to him was that in all the pictures you can find of him, he is smiling in most,” Fort said. “I found it intriguing that throughout all the horrors and tragedies that Ota Benga went through nothing took his smile from him.”
OFFICIAL HD VIDEO: King Mas – Ota Benga Smile