LIFESTYLE | RAP | ELECTRONIC DANCE | BUDDHISM
Was Maxi Jazz really a mystic and a Buddhist poet?
Maxwell Alexander Fraser was reported dead on December 23, 2022.
He is better known as Maxi Jazz — DJ, rapper, lead poet, and lyricist of the British electro-dance band Faithless.
Maxi Jazz was not your ordinary kind of human being. He was born to Jamaican parents in 1957, in Brixton, South London, which has a certain edge, when spoken of in a context of being of color, multi-ethnicity, art, street gangs, and pop culture.
The Brixton years
Brixton has been the scene of many riots, most notoriously in the early eighties, just about when his (and my) generation were supposed to start laying low and behaving “professionally.” Who can forget what went on in 1981? When more than five thousand young people raged over them being constantly harassed by plain-clothes police officers exercising ethnic profiling. I had friends in Brixton then, students from Pakistan, whom I visited often whenever I was in London and whom I read Ghālib’s poetry with. They told me not to come and remained indoors for a week in the hope of staying out of sight. Until their front door got knocked down and their hope was shown to have been in vain. No more Ghālib after that.
The 1985 Brixton riot was worse. It started with the shooting of an innocent woman by the Metropolitan police. The woman was believed by the police to be protecting a son of hers, who was being suspected of robbery and firearms offenses. Shooting the mother was not taken lightly by the local community.
Brixton has been a hotspot for that kind of stuff for a long time. Today it is different. Brick Lane, which functions as Brixton’s central axis, is home to one of the most vibrant Bangla communities in the world. The place is seething with community projects, Bangla poetry circles, mosques, art groups, regeneration projects (Pop Brixton), common kitchen gardens, art galleries, trendy restaurants. In a certain way, the scene is very much like Freetown Christiana in Kopenhagen. Constantly outweighing gentrification with regeneration, while perpetually feeding on an…