Charlie Sloth

On Air Now 16:00 – 17:45

What happened in 1989

  • This was the year of the Funki Dred with high twists and shaved dreadlocks popularised by Soul II Soul's Jazzie B. Afro-centricity was in, with Kente clothing, African leather medallions and the colours red, black, yellow and green.
  • Winnie Mandela's brutal personal bodyguards, the so-called Mandela United Football Club kidnapped a 14-year-old activist, Stompei Seipei Moketsi. He was later found murdered. Despite Winnie being convicted of kidnapping and assault she was only fined, after launching an appeal.
  • Two thousand years of Christian tradition were overturned when a Boston church consecrated the Reverend Barbara Harris, a black American divorcee, as the world's first female bishop.
  • Channel 4 broadcast Desmond's. This comedy about a black British family appealed to a mainstream audience and was also popular in the Caribbean and US where it was broadcast on Black Entertainment Television.
  • Spike Lee released the critically acclaimed Do The Right Thing, triggering heated debates about race relations in the US.
  • Colin Powell, 52, a four-star general was appointed to the USA's top military post, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the youngest and only black person to be the chief military advisor to the President.
  • David Dinkins, a Democrat, became the first black Mayor of New York. In Virginia, L.Douglas Wilder, the grandson of a slave, was elected the first black governor of a US state.
  • Namibia, ruled by South Africa for the past 70 years and Africa's last colony, began a one-year transition to democratic independence, completed on 1 April 1990.

In the music

  • NWA dropped their controversial album Straight Outta Compton, heralding the birth of gangsta rap. Produced by Dr Dre, it featured Easy-E and Ice Cube. Despite no mainstream media support it reached No.9 in the Billboard RnB chart.
  • Soul II Soul reached the No.1 spot in the UK with Back to Life.
  • The legendary King Tubby is shot outside his home in Jamaica. His murder remains unsolved, but is believed to have been the result of a street robbery.
  • The Native Tongues collective is formed. It includes Afrika Bambaataa, The Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul and kick-starts a new era of hip hop, using jazzy beats and promoting Afro-centric lyrics.
  • James Brown was sentenced in Georgia to six years in prison. It followed a police chase through two different states.
  • Public Enemy's Professor Griff gave an anti-Semitic speech to the Washington Times, offending the Jewish community. Public Enemy responded by firing him.
  • Mica Paris released her debut album So Good, which went platinum.
  • Heavy D broke through to the mainstream with his album Big Tyme produced by Marley Marl and Teddy Riley.

Key Releases



Grammy awards


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