Lynval Golding of the Specials is disgusted.
"I didn't think our music should still be played today," the rhythm guitarist said in his thick, melodious Jamaican accent during a phone interview. "When I heard our song `Why' played on the radio, I felt sick."You would think that after 20 years the world would learn. We don't want another Hitler, but we have Bosnia. We hated the racial violence of the KKK, but we have Texas. It doesn't make it all right!"
The band, which formed in 1979, has never been into making glossy videos, nor has it presented itself as a celebrity or music icon. The band members simply sing music, hoping to bring together a heavily segregated society.
With their racially and musically diverse backgrounds, these "rude boys" from Coventry, England, have challenged many social walls with pounding rhythms and bleating horns.
"It's just about equality," Golding said. "That's two-tone." (Two-tone ska is a socially conscious music genre, ska's second wave, as envisioned by the Specials.)
Driven by their politically impassioned lyrics and socially motivated declarations, Golding and the Specials felt they had said all there was to say about social injustices. Then they met 17-year-old fans who had their 20-year-old recordings.
"It's brilliant to get to these kids in a positive way, and I am so proud of what we've done," Golding said.
What the Specials did is inspired the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Cherry Poppin' Daddies and the Prodigy. The Specials single-handedly created not only one style, but a cornucopia of styles, and that's something few musicians have been able to achieve.
"This is not for me, this achievement," Golding said. "It is for some musical genius like Jimi Hendrix or Bob Marley, but not me."
Anyone can listen to ska. Anyone can like the horns, the skank of the guitar and the lollipop rhythm. Sure, it can be just as cute as No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and Baby Spice of the Spice Girls put together - but it's not. Ska screams about gangs, rape, unemployment, war, inequality and all other forms of injustice in the world.