Show of hands, reggae fans: How many of you knew that Chris Blackwell — the legendary record man who founded Island Records in the late ’50s and broke Jamaican icons like Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley to the wider world — was still active in the music biz? I honestly wasn’t sure Blackwell was even alive, let alone making music, ‘til I stumbled across a chilled-out dub remix he did for Manu Chao’s new single, “Politik Kills.” (Check out a fan-made video for the original tune above.)
He’s just one of a whole slew of diverse artists who’ve contributed remixes to a new website Chao launched this week. They take a whole range of approaches to Chao’s minimal, simmering indictment of entrenched power; as always, the Paris-born, Barcelona-based songsmith is redefining the limits of both “world music” and “protest music.” I’m partial to Prince Fatty’s horn-filled, carnival-esque take and the off-kilter nortec version from Mexico’s Bostich and Fussible (all streaming free at the site). And if you don’t like any of those, Chao’s letting fans download the master files for “Politik Kills” and upload their own remixes. Go ahead and check ‘em out for yourself — which ones are your favorites?