Lutalo Makossa Masimba, better known as Brother Resistance, was a pioneer of Rapso music. Born Roy Lewis in East Dry River, Port of Spain in 1954, Brother Resistance helped create Rapso, a style of poetry mixed with calypso. His songs Blow Away and Get Off The Radio are among some of the first songs recorded in the genre.
Rapso can trace its roots to the ancient African Griot tradition. This style of poetry came from the streets and incorporates Shango, Kaiso, Midnight Robber talk and Steelpan elements. The term ‘Rapso’ itself was coined by Brother Resistance and the Network Riddum Band. During the 1980s he and the band popularised Rapso by producing songs such as Tonight is De Night, Ring De Bell, Mother Earth, and Handclapping Song. His music is entrenched in the resistance of the Black Power Movement in Trinidad and Tobago and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, both of which occurred while he was a teenager.
His talent also extended into the realm of acting. In the late 1980s and then again in 2002, he played the lead role of Aldrik in the Earl Lovelace production of The Dragon Can’t Dance. In his storied career, he served as President of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO), Commissioner of the National Carnival Commission Board (NCC), President of the Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT) and the Writers Union of T&T.
He earned a BA in History and Economics from the University of the West Indies (UWI) and a MA in Carnival Studies from the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT). He became an author when he wrote the book ‘Rapso Explosion’, a collection of poems with an emphasis on the history of Rapso music. This book, which was published in 1986 by Karia Press can be found in many NALIS libraries here.
He has been contributing to the culture of Trinidad and Tobago since the 1970s. In recognition of his illustrious career, he was awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Silver) in 1992. He was also nominated for a Cacique Award in 2002 for the role of Aldrik.
Author: Heritage Library Division, Librarian I, Ms Reshma Rambharack
Copyright of photographs held by NALIS, reproduction and distribution without written permission is prohibited.
Brother, Resistance. Rapso Explosion. London: Karia Press, 1986. Print.
“Calypso: Rapso.” National Library & Information System Authority, https://www.nalis.gov.tt/Resources/Subject-Guide/Calypso . Accessed 14 July 2021.
Ray Blood, Peter. “Musical Resistance For Bro Resistance.” Trinidad & Tobago Guardian, 11 November 2014, https://www.guardian.co.tt/article-6.2.390212.ddc14b83f7 . Accessed 14 July 2021.
Webb, Yvonne. “Brother Resistance Dies.” Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, 14 July 2021, https://newsday.co.tt/2021/07/14/brother-resistance-dies/. Accessed 14 July 2021.
Pic 1 - yellow top, flag and at poduim
Brother Resistance at the funeral of Winston Bailey, Shadow.
Source: The PAGOH, HLD collection.
Pic 2 - Blue top and mic in hand
Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation. Brother Resistance. Facebook, 14 July 2021, 9:13 am, https://www.facebook.com/tuco.trinidadtobago/photos/a.314307292102580/1688571771342785/ . Accessed 15 July 2021.