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I Ain’t Mad at Ya
Omar Broomfield aka Hulk
Published by Tangent Books and Reggae Archive Records, ‘I Ain’t Mad at Ya’ by Owen Broomfield (aka Hulk) is a document of the social, cultural and political realities of growing up in the 60’s/70’s, as a black youth on the Aston/Handsworth border.
Owen exposes the issues faced by the black, predominately African-Caribbean, community and the daily racism they faced in school, on the streets and in the workplace. He then takes us through his seminal years of growing up, from the physical fights with white racists to the battle of wills with teachers and sports coaches. But the book really comes into its own when Owen writes about his three constant companions and passions: sport, music and his family.
Owen excelled at a number of sports and could have been a professional basketball player if fate (and a rehearsal) hadn’t interfered. Instead he turned to music, which came naturally to him, and for a few fleeting years was part of an extraordinary movement in Birmingham’s and indeed the UK reggae scene.
He vividly brings to life some of the musicians, characters and hustlers of Handsworth and the venues where they plied their trade, giving a voice to these lost and hidden bands, encouraging the reader to discover them. As an added bonus, the discographies at the end of each chapter are incredibly deep and will offer even the most knowledgable reggae lover something to discover.
The books central theme is of Owen’s spiritual journey and of the love he shares for his mom Gladys, a formidable but loving presence through his life, Dad Hartnel, and brother Lewis as well as a dizzying cast of relatives.
‘I Ain’t Mad at Ya’ offers a rare insight into Birmingham’s black community and shines a light on the incredible amount of black music culture produced in the vibrant suburb of Handsworth and the role its musicians and entrepreneurs have played in shaping and influencing popular music in the UK.
Owen Broomfield aka Hulk brilliantly captures the reality of growing up in the vibrant black community of Handsworth and Aston in Birmingham in the 70s and 80s. Alongside his (mis) adventures we join Hulk on his journey to becoming a fully fledged musician with the reggae band Unity shaped in the youth discos, pulsating gospel services and the sounds systems of the blues he frequented. I Ain’t Mad At Ya offers a rare insight into Birmingham’s black community and shines a light on the incredible amount of black music culture produced in the vibrant suburb of Handsworth and the role its musicians and entrepreneurs have played in shaping and influencing popular music in the UK. A great read!
M Riley- Principal Investigator, The Black Music Research Unit, Media Art and Design, University of Westminster and ex Steel Pulse Vocalist