I’ve only missed two summers in New York in my life. There’s a magic that was real for me in seeing people sitting outside while the sun set late blasting dancehall from the subs on the sidewalk in Brooklyn. There are songs that instantly take me back to all those humid days. Lady Saw’s “Sycamore Tree.” The track itself opens with the line “Do you remember?” Over the popular Joyride riddim, Lady Saw speaks of the demise of a young love over—what else but—?oral sex. The topic matched her raw voice, which I could poorly describe as a high-pitched bass that is one of a kind and instantly recognizable.
By the time "Sycamore Tree" had seared itself into my brain, Lady Saw was already an undeniable talent. Her first album, which dropped in 1994, came with the single “Stab Up Di Meat,” a song that definitively let them know her music was going to be full of slackness. In the world of Island Culture, where misogyny and patriarchy regularly silence women’s sexual voice, this was powerful stuff.