Saturday, October 11, 2014

Definitions & Examples Of The Rastafari Word "Iley"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides definitions and examples of the Jamaican Dread talk (Iyaric) word "iley".

This post is a companion post to "Jah Bouks - Angola (video, lyrics, & partial American English "translation" of those lyrics)" and "Jamaican Patois & Rasta Talk In YouTube Comments About Jah Bouk's Videos"

Additions and corrections to the definitions of words and phrases would be greatly appreciated.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Jah Bouks for his musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this pages, and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

Note that "Iley" (in all of its spellings) is pronounced "i-LAY".

"'I and I' is an interesting part-contradiction of Freud's concept of the 'I' (ego). Normally, the name 'I' can only be used by the speaker to refer to him or herself. Moreover, the ability to consciously recognise oneself as an 'I', distinguishable from one's surroundings, seems to be a distinctively human characteristic, not shared by the animal, plant or mineral kingdoms. In contrast, 'I and I' can refer to any number of individuals, often being extended ad infinitum: I and I and I and I and I... and hence implying an 'endless circle of Inity'. Needless to say, such abolition of personal pronouns can lead to confusion! Hence one may hear also phrases such as 'the-I' ('you'), or 'I-man' ('I').

The syllable 'I' is one of the most frequently recurring in reggae songs, and it is perhaps no coincidence that the name 'Rastafari' itself ends with this same sound (at least in its English pronunciation; in Amharic, it is pronounced 'ras ta-fa-ree'). 'I' may replace an existing initial syllable of a word, or it may be suffixed, as in 'Zion-I'. This often lends a more sacred quality to words. Not surprisingly, the Roman numeral 'I' (one) appended to the name of the Emperor Haile Selassie I (implying 'the first') has come to be pronounced almost exclusively in the same way.

The distinctively Rastafarian phenomenon of incorporating the sound 'I' into words has become so widespread and well recognised as to be given its own term: 'I-word forming'. Naturally, it produces some obvious rhyme schemes in reggae lyrics, since the words Rastafari, Selassie I, I and I, Most I (High), Zion-I, and so on all end in the same sound. Other I-words you may meet include Idren (brethren and sistren), I-didate (meditate), Iley (highly), Imanity (humanity), Iration (creation), I-shence (incense, or herb), Ises (praises), I-story (history), Ital, Iternity (eternity), Itinually (continually), Itiopia (Ethiopia), Iwa (hour, time), Iyant (chant)....

May the I be iley blessed in Iternity, and Ises to the Most I! Yes-I!
Italics were added by me to highly those words.
"From the Emperors name Haile, also meaning Ganja Herbs."
Note how the word "iley" (i-LAY) came to be used to connote "holy" ("highly") and "ganja":
Haile [name of Ethiopia Emperor Haile Selassie who Rastas consider a reincarnation of God (Jah) = Holy

Iley = Holy (Highly)

Ganja = Holy herb

From "The Rastafarian community In Scouting"
"Ily", "illy", iley is also defined as "holy".

a word used by Rastas for ganja,also called the holy herb and callie, they believe it was given by God (Jah).Scriptural support is found especially in Psalm 104:14: "He causeth the grass for the cattle and herb for the service of man." Other texts interpreted to refer to cannabis include Genesis 3:18, Exodus 10:12, and Proverbs 15:17. In addition to ritual use, Rastas also use marijuana for medicinal purposes, applying it to a variety of ailments including colds.
sittin smoken iley."

sittin smoken iley.
-by trobaughApril 29, 2010

Example #1: Jah Bouks, 2013
"Jah Bouks - Angola (Director's Cut)"

Example #2: Roberto Kelly, 2013
"Ileeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyy yes rasta i like the progress just keep up the hard work and your name will be on the lips of many far and wide"
From "Jah Bouks - Angola (Director's Cut)"

Example #3:
"I-ternal reverberations within the portals of Ras Tafari. I-I-I-I-I-I-Iley I forIvar.

Rastafari Love…. John (Jakes) Homiak, Washington DC, USA
From RAS IRATION I (1955 – 2011) [hereafter given as " I-Calling"]
I think that "i-calling" is what some African Americans call a home going service for someone who has died (passed on). In Standard American English these comments are part of the eulogy.

Note: These videos document the use of the Rastafari word "iley" as an interjection. Note that in the video given as Example #1 that interjection is given in a call & response pattern, i.e. the singer Jah Bouks says "Iley!" before beginning his song and the audience says "Iley!" immediately after he says it. I wonder if this is a common practice in Rastafari gatherings.

The word "iley" may also be used in other Reggae artists' videos and in other YouTube videos. The videos below are showcased because they are the ones that I saw that prompted me to publish this post.

These videos are presented in chronological order with the oldest dated video given first.

Example #1: JAH BOUKS SINGS INFRONT OF THE PRIME MINISTER @djrizzle1 @jahbouks

rizzle693, Published on Aug 16, 2013


Example #2: Jah Bouks -- Going Home | Private Property Riddim | October 2013

JamDown122 EntertainmentPublished on Oct 17, 2013

Jah Bouks -- Going Home | Private Property Riddim |
Produced By: Jah Snow Cone Productions

Example #3: Jah Bouks -- Never Really Know [Who Can't Hear Must Feel Riddim] - Island Life Records

JamDown122 Entertainment, Published on Nov 21, 2013

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