"EVERY time yuh just kill one, yuh doh just kill one/You killin' their sons and sons of their sons/African man, you killing generations."
This is the message calypsonian Mark Eastman, 38, wants to ensure everyone in TT hears and that it resonates with them.
Generations, written by fellow calypsonian Brian London, was Eastman's entry for the 2024 Calypso Monarch competition.
The former Young King was able to perform it before a packed Skinner Park, San Fernando audience for the semifinal on February 3, but did not advance to the final.
He told Sunday Newsday he was inspired to address this topic after seeing "alarming" and "disturbing" statistics on black homicide victims in TT, especially resulting from gang wars. On average, over 50 per cent of all murders annually are linked to gang violence.
Immediately, he expressed this interest to London, who asked if he was sure he wanted to cover this topic.
"I said, 'Yes,' and Brian said, 'Okay. Next week I'm going to send you a verse and chorus.'"
At the beginning of the song, Eastman directly speaks to young, black men, saying, "I really have to do this thing one-on-one and talk to you man-to-man...
"You're meh brother and brother, our connection goes deeper than that. We're tied together historically and spiritually, that's a fact."
But, he adds, the ties which once bound them seem to have been broken, and they have also forgotten the road they once walked together.
"The foundation it starting to shake, the wall crumbling ready to break/ African man, yuh actions today affecting generations."
Each time a young man picks up a gun, "Yuh leaving the tree without the roots," he also sings.
Reminding them that the survival of their race depends on them, he asks how TT would get more influential people like Singing Sandra, Makandal Daaga, The Mighty Shadow, Brian Lara and others if they continue killing each other.
Eastman told Sunday Newsday the crime situation "really hit home" in November 2023 when his cousin-in-law was murdered.
"I was sleeping in my bed a Sunday morning and my mother-in-law knocked, then opened the door and said, 'Mark, they killed Christian!' She was crying."
Christian Sansavior, 22, was among six men shot in a night-time drive-by shooting along Duncan Street, Port of Spain. He was the only one who died. This area is typically considered a crime hotspot.
"Waking up in the morning to that kind of news was something else," Eastman said.
"I knew him since he was six years old. He used to live in St Ann's with his mother and father and decided to go live with his grandparents on Duncan Street."
He said he could "put his head on a block" that Sansavior was not involved in any illegal activity and was an innocent bystander.
This situation, he said, led to his 2024 performance being very passionate.
"That was really, really hurtful to the family and everyone to see," he said, recalling seeing footage of the incident online.
"So to see him there and then to sing this song...His mother said she wanted the song to be sung in the funeral and really hope it could help people can hear and feel the message and it can actually change somebody."
The song further says when young men shoot each other, they are really "shooting down hope and aspiration."
Although not advancing to Dimanche Gras for the finals, he said he was satisfied as he was able to perform the song in front of a massive audience.
"I really wanted that crowd. I know it's a competition, but Skinner Park has the biggest crowd and I really needed to sing it there so the message could reach a lot of people.
"(Sansavior) had his whole life ahead of him. It hit home really hard and I really needed to get that message out there."
He said music saved him and was a "rock" for him while growing up in Gonzales, Belmont.
"It's really hard to see young black people now just throwing away their lives."
He believes music has a major part to play in the ongoing crime splurge.
"Music is very powerful. Music could make you love, music could make you hate, music could make you do a lot of things you didn't think you could do.
"So to push that kind of music about gangs and men with guns and all these things...It has an impact."
He also urged parents to raise their children the right way.
"If you take one black person and you really get to see how many generations being lost within, let's say, a ten-year time span – that is a lot of people!
"If we black people do not stop or re-evaluate ourselves, we could be extinct, we could be no more."
At the end of the song, he urges everyone to "help build generations" instead.
"The situation right now is critical/In you lies the path to our survival
"Be the head and not the tail/Your success, not your demise we shall hail/African man, it's time for you to prevail."
I’m here to talk to meh black man,
And ah hope that you understand,
Ah really have to do this thing one on one,
And talk to you man to man,
You’re my brother and brother, our connection goes deeper than that,
We’re tied together historically and spiritually that’s a fact,
But de ties that have bound us dey got broken,
The road we’ve walked together you have forgotten,
De foundation it start to shake,
De wall crumbling ready to break,
African man, your actions today affecting generations
Every time yuh kill one,
Yuh just doh kill one,
You killing their sons and de sons of their sons,
African man, yuh killing generations,
Each time one of your brother yuh shoot,
You leaving the tree without de root,
African man, yuh killing generations,
African man you-oo-oo-oo-oo
Our survival depends on you,
How would we get de next Nelson Mandela,
How would we get de next Martin Luther,
How would we get de next Makandal Daaga,
How would we get de next Uriah "Buzz" Butler,
So when yuh gun down one, yuh doh just gun down one,
You shooting down hope and aspiration,
African, African man, yuh killing generations,
To many ah another black man gunned down,
Is just another statistic,
Another number, another failure,
Of de African man and that’s it,
But this is deeper, a lot deeper, so much deeper than that,
Generations that are not yet generations will feel de impact,
Future fathers and leaders would never be,
Ah torn fabric of our legacy,
Our existence you cutting short,
A generation no longer goes forth,
African man your actions today affecting generations
Is not just a life yuh taking,
You bringing an end to continuity,
A light that could potentially shine bright,
We’d never get the chance to see,
Ella Andall Missing Generation will now become generations,
Ah missing generation of we daughters and not just we sons,
Shoes to be filled that will never be worn,
A generation that coulda be that will never be born,
For each brother life you take,
A future you reshape,
African man, de future of our race, that is what’s at stake
Can you hear me, black man?
Our future lies in your hands,
It's time for you to leave your footprints in the sand,
Leadership is what it demands,
Lead us from de darkness into the light,
Come unite us together,
No more each other should we fight,
The situation right now is critical,
In you lies our path to survival,
Be the head and not de tail,
Your success not your demise we shall hail,
African man, it's time for you to prevail
Every time you build one,
Yuh just doh build one,
You building their sons and de sons of their sons,
African man, we building generations,
Each time we work together,
Together, we become stronger and stronger,
African man, let we build generations,
African man you ooh ooh ooh ooh ,
Our survival depends on you,
Help us to build the next Mighty Shadow,
Help us to build the next Merchant and Maestro,
Help us to build de next Zandolie,
Help us to build de next Lady B,
Help us to build one and then a next one,
Help us build hope and aspiration,
African man, African man, let we build generations