Alexander Tucker has become a fixture of the UK’s underground scene over the last few years, an always-welcome addition to numerous shows, especially in the capitol. Perhaps seeming most at home in small intimate basement venues and art spaces, Tucker’s eccentric take on the lo-fi troubadour has always had the ability to utterly fill the space in which he has played. (More …)
Earth play spacial, instrumental, orchestral music. The sound is so overpowering and engulfing that your insides will vibrate and your mind will start racing, head pounding. Best listened to as albums (on repeat!) and while performing live, they are a band who are interesting in their entirety, down to a history which began in 1989 in Seattle. (More …)
To look at Bo Ningen, you’d guess their pre-gig preparations would involve burning kittens, perhaps some otherworldly chanting, snorting battery acid from a virgin’s buttocks, that kind of thing. After all, their riotous live shows have become a bit legendary in London. Band members toil around playing instruments with their mouths, smashing up the stage and each other. Their signature sound is a brand of visceral, reverberating, psych-rock noise. (More …)
“Every time I’m on the street
People laugh and point at me
They talk about my length of hair
And the out of date clothes I wear
Tippa Irie is sitting in the dining room playing with his cat. He is currently unable to walk without limping so ’SUP has trekked across London to visit his home in a quiet residential area of Thornton Heath.
A black BMW stands in the driveway, a proud testimony to his success in an unforgiving and volatile British reggae market. In the living room his wife is watching the Michael Jackson tribute concert on TV. Occasionally we can hear her singing along and Tippa bangs on the wall shouting: “Debs, I’m doing an interview!” with affectionate comic severity.
While he may look the jovial family man, Tippa Irie, a.k.a. Anthony Henry, is also one of the UK’s most well traveled and renowned dancehall MCs. In the early ’80s he came to prominence on the legendary sound system Saxon Sound International, along with fellow wordsmiths Papa Levi, Smiley Culture and Peter King. As the sounds of dancehall transformed reggae culture Saxon dominated the British scene, causing even the leading lights in Jamaican music to take note.
In 1986 Tippa hit the top 10 with his single “Hello Darling” which led to a groundbreaking appearance on Top Of The Pops. Ever busy, and ever in search of new ideas and challenges, he has recorded some 15 albums and collaborated with U.S. artists including Jurassic 5 and the Black Eyed Peas.
Lighthearted, good humored, but deadly serious about his craft, Tippa seems happy to discuss a diverse range of subjects. These include his many musical projects, football and cosmetics, and the ups and downs of British reggae today.
What happened to your leg?
I had a concert in Sardinia and the marquee was tiled. My engineer gave me some water to drink, I put it down and the water seeped over. I was just performing as normal and didn’t see the water and fell and hit my knee and twisted my ankle. So it’s been in a cast for two weeks and now I’ve taken it out and I’m on the mend. I’ve got a brace for it but I’m not wearing it today. But it’s just healing so maybe about another three weeks I should be back to normal.
But you’ve been keeping busy? What are you working on now?
Well, I have a record label I run with a friend of mine called Dominic Walch and another partner called John Mitchell. I had JC Lodge in the studio yesterday and her daughter, a girl called Gia. And last week I had Maxi Priest in. So I’m just busy recording new stuff for the label and we just released a rhythm track called the “Sweet Jamaica” rhythm, which is a compilation album on the “I Shall Sing” rhythm. I have people like Little Hero, Little Kirk, Peter Hunningale, Peter Spence, Nereus Joseph, Vivian Jones, artists like that on the label. I just released it on iTunes and all the other download portals and we also did some 7-inches which were manufactured by African Beat. Last week I went to Dub Vendor to drop off some 7-inches. So we’re just busy making the new stuff and promoting the stuff we’ve already got out plus whatever gigs come in.
You’ve been working with U.S. producer Yeti Beats.
I just did an album with Yeti Beats. It’s like underground hip-hop. We’ve got people like Chali 2na from Jurassic 5, Rakka from Dilated Peoples, another guy called Dr Ringding, and another girl called Kelly Love who I’ve done duets with. But mainly the album was done in California with Yeti Beats. He’s just done an album with Sizzla and he’s done a lot of hip-hop. He’s worked with Fatlip from Pharcyde and people like that. I was on tour in California and I met him there. He was part of this group called the Gingermakers and he actually promoted a gig with me in Los Angeles where his band supported me and he kept in touch. Then he came to London and said he’s got some beats and he wants me to do a track with him. So he came to my studio and we recorded a tune called “Tell Dem,” which he was going to put on one of his compilations and then he loved my work so much he said we should do an album. So he came to London again and we did some of the work in my studio and then the rest of the work we done in L.A. and we produced and mixed the rest of the album in California. So the album is finished now and it’s called Slave To The Norm. It’s basically like a hip-hop contemporary thing and it’s very good [laughs]. I like it! It’s very different for me but I just do music. I can’t be just sticking to one style.
And you’ve also been working with Germany’s Far East Band on an album?
Yeah. I’ve done fifteen or so tracks with them and I actually think this album is my best work. Reggae-wise I should say because the other album is hip-hop, rock kind of influences. Reggae-wise I would say this is definitely my best album. It’s all live – live drums.
Do you prefer live instrumentation?
Yeah I do. I prefer performing live with a band than I do hip-hop type shows. But this album is really interesting in its lyrical content. I wrote the whole album in maybe about a month? And I find when you have a good riddim lyrics come easier. They just sent the tracks over to me. I kind of picked the first things that came into my head, the first vibe that I came up with, and it just seemed to work.
How did you link up with Far East Band?
Management, innit? I mean I know Gentleman. He’s a friend of mine that I knew before he blew up in Germany. And I know Gentleman’s manager, this guy called Stephan Schulmeister; he was a friend of mine and a fan. So I met him back in the day and just stayed friends and then I linked up with them on the road. You meet artists in your travels and that. So I become friends with the drummer of the band, Marcus, and he and they used to listen to my tunes like “Hello Darling” back in the day. So they built a track that was similar to “Hello Darling” and I wrote this tune called “Just My Lady”. And they loved it so my manager said ‘You should do an album with these guys’. So I did. I’ve done my part now, they’ve got to just mix it and get it sounding right and then we should be away. But yeah, it’s gonna blow up, hopefully, if I get the right funding behind it and push behind it. I just need to get the right label behind it and it should do well.
Last year some people were saying France was the centre of reggae in Europe. Would you say Germany is taking over now?
Well what I like about France is that they support their own. They’ve got their French-speaking artists that are doing well within France. I wish it was like that in UK! But Germany, I think the biggest festivals like Reggae Jam and Summer Jam are there so I would say you may be right. They have a real love for the music and the dancehall scene. You have sounds like Sentinel and all these kind of sounds. I don’t really like Sentinel that much but I like that in places like Berlin there’s a lot of sounds. You’ve got fifty, sixty sounds maybe more. And plus I have a German manager so something must be going on over there [laughs].
I think you’ve pre-empted my next question. What are your thoughts on how things are going for reggae in the UK?
Me personally, I’m always flying the flag for UK artists and UK reggae. I kind of see myself as one of the trailblazers and one of the people that will always fly the flag for the music that’s made here. ’Cause there’s a lot of talent here and a lot of people that do have the gift and the ability. But obviously the structures are not here anymore. One of our main distributors, Jet Star has gone, and then Greensleeves since a few years ago has only been dealing with music from Jamaica. So it’s pretty hard. You got people in the UK scene like Ariwa and he’s doing a lot of dub music but it’s mainly his own stuff so for young reggae artists, there’s not a lot of places for us to take our music to anymore. Unless you’re like me that’s had maybe one or two breaks – with the Black Eyed Peas and people like that – that’s given me a little change so that I can physically do it myself.
This is why I started Lockdown Productions because I wanted to show people that we’re still here. There’s still talent here and people wanna hear it. Right now my tune that I did with Brinsley Forde from Aswad, “Long Time” on my “Sweet Jamaica” riddim, and it’s number one in the German chart now. In fact all my “Sweet Jamaica” riddim tunes are one, two, three and four in the African Beat Chart. So things like that are giving me the impetus to say that it’s a good thing what I’m trying to do.
But the scene?
You’ve got people like Macka B in the Midlands, who’s still touring. You’ve got people like Pato Banton, he’s not really here now. He’s gone to America, and he’s touring out there. Then you’ve got the lovers rock scene. People like Carol Thompson and Janet Kay, they’re still doing their thing. Carol Thompson has her Lovers Rock Lounge and she’s started this thing called Colour Telly. They’ve got a little scene going on so people like Peter Hunningale, Peter Spence, Winston Reedy, there’s still like a little network of people that love that type of music and support it. So there are people there doing things but obviously if anything hasn’t got the support then it’s not going to be at the forefront. But I’m just going to keep doing the things I’m doing so that people will start to take notice.
More and more young listeners are discovering the ’80s sound system era through the Internet making sound tapes available. Do you think file sharing can be a good thing in this regard?
In one sense it’s good and in another it’s kind of killed our business. Because I’m a young label, even though I’m 44 years old now, and what I find is that back in the days when it was just David Rodigan and Tony Williams everybody just used to tune in to them. Then they’d go out on a Monday and go and buy the music. And that’s what the problem is now: music is too easy for everybody to get so nobody wants to pay for it any more because they can get it for free. And that’s what file sharing does: you get the music for free and then we don’t make any money. The only way we can make money now is if we can get our music on rotation. So it’s even harder for us to survive now because back in the day if we had a hit tune we could press it up and sell it. Now if I produce an album then 800 people can download it for free and file share and that’s 800 sales that I’ve lost. The radio is controlled by these small amounts of people so I don’t get played on Radio 1 unless it’s a specialist show. So how am I going to make any money if I don’t get played on Capital and Radio One and Kiss and all these stations? And my music is as good as anybody’s. People come to my studio, whoever the artist is, and I just sit and I write and in a short space of time [snaps fingers] I come up with ideas and I come up with songs for them to sing. So I know that I’ve got the ability and I know that the music is good but if it doesn’t get heard then you know that I’m not really going to make any money. So file shares, yeah, in the sense of there’s a lot of young people that might get into the music – but they’re not buying it so it’s not helping me.
Give us a flavor of what your writing process is like.
Well it varies. Sometimes people send me beats. Every other week or month somebody will send me a beat and if I like the beat something tends to appear in my head. And once it appears I just write: I find the hook, I put my hook down, and I just work from there. Then other times – it’s like my wife was talking the other day about make up, and there was no music being played – you find a topic and you work from there. She was putting make up and I go: ‘Bloody hell you have to go though that every morning. You get up and you’ve got to put all that stuff on. You got to put foundation on, you got to put eyeliner, and then you end up with lipstick.’ So then I thought ‘You know what? I’m gonna write a lyric about that.’ So then basically I just explained everything I see her do, where it comes to dealing with her make up. So it depends. If somebody gives you a riddim, you feel the riddim and whatever comes into my head from what the riddim’s made me feel, then I just write about it. So I don’t know if there’s any particular formula: sometimes you get the beat first and write to a beat, and then sometimes somebody gives you an idea and you just create something off of the idea.
What’s your favourite classic rhythm? The easiest rhythm to chat on?
The “Punanny” Riddim. That was done by King Jammys. Admiral Bailey, “Give me Punanny” [laughs]! That’s my favorite dancehall riddim. Then you have riddims like “The Answer”. “Real Rock” is one of my favorites. “Stalag” is probably one of the most classic, that Winston Riley beat. “Sleng Teng” is okay. I got a bit fed up of that riddim. I think I even made a tune about it called “Sleng Teng Finish Already” (laughs)! I’d say the “Punanny” is my favorite dancehall riddim but It’s a bit hard to say because there’s many!
What’s your favorite collaboration of all time?
I’d probably have to say “Raggamuffin Girl” with Peter Hunningale, which went to number one in I think 1989. I mean me and Peter just kind of like became brothers so I had a good bond and relationship with him. It was a pleasure working with him and I just admire his talent and his song writing abilities and his vocals – just his all-round ability basically. He’s an all rounder: he can play anything, engineer, great voice.
My favorite is “Stress (Miserable Woman)” with Lloyd Brown. How did this collaboration happen?
The producers of that tune was called the Administrators, they’re actually a lovers rock group. They did a tune called “It’s A Love Thing” and Lloyd just asked me saying ‘Tip, I got this tune and I think you would complement it nice.’ So they just phoned me up and I went down there, heard the track, and just wrote my parts there and then. Then, because “It’s A Love Thing” did so well, me and Lloyd done “Stress” together, and that did even better. Then we made an album called Combination and we got a deal with Arista which was cool and we made a track called “Babymother” which was the first single. The guys that signed us were nice guys, good people. But it turned out that the guy who works at BMG was not into the vibe. And he was a black guy! So when Chris said to me: ‘This is the guy that’s gonna do your work’ I thought ‘Woy! A brother!’ But he turned out to be whiter and more racist than the white guys that signed us! (laughs) I don’t remember what his name is. Saw him the other day on TV judging some competition and I thought ‘There’s that dickhead!’ But they did nothing. I mean they made a video but they didn’t really give it the full hog and then nothing happened. What I find with these guys is they like an easy life. This may be straying from the question but he brought us into his office and showed us a video from TLC, “Waterfalls” or whatever. I think that’s how they like it. They don’t really want to break anybody or promote anybody from here. They’d rather just get something that’s hot in America, the work’s already done, and they can put it out. That’s what me and Lloyd kind of fell into. But Lloyd is a great talent man. He’s a great voice, great singer, great songwriter.
What do you think you’ve achieved in reggae?
Well, I would say I’ve helped towards it or helped to fly the flag for UK artists. And when people think of UK artists one of the first artists they’d probably think of is myself. In the ’80s there weren’t many of us on TV then. So I can say that I’ve definitely helped. I mean, I respect people like Steel Pulse, Aswad and people like that, but as a UK DJ and MC, when Busta Rhymes and KRS One, those guys meet me, they have a lot of respect for us because they respect what we were doing. Because we were original and everybody were following us. So at that time, LL Cool J, all these guys, they had respect for us.
Do you think you’ll always stay living in South London?
It depends. I might not stay in this country forever. My mum’s got a beautiful place in Jamaica now so in December I’m going there for six weeks to take a break and do some recording. One day I might sell up and go to the Caribbean – not necessarily Jamaica, just somewhere warm – and live a different lifestyle. But I kinda like it here. I got my business here, I got a nice little studio, me and my friend, and my wife’s got her little business here too. So we’re surviving and I’m happy here. It’s kinda peaceful. It’s near the city but it’s peaceful so I can just go in my garden and write some lyrics or just chill out with my cat, my slippers and my pipe [laughs]! Just joking! But yeah, who knows, maybe I might move one day, but for now London is cool. It’s expensive but hey, where’s not expensive these days? Maybe when I get a bit older – not too old – I’m just going to head out but I’m not sure where. Because I can do my music anywhere so I can live anywhere. I like California quite a lot. I like the Caribbean a lot. I like Jamaica but sometimes with Jamaica it’s just the hostility. I’m not feeling that. I don’t like the burglar bars everywhere. It’s like you’re living in a prison and I don’t like that somehow. Even though anything can happen anywhere in the world, because there’s some mad things happening in London. But for me, I’m kind of all right here.
Final question, so you can throw me out for asking this, but as a South Londoner, how come you support Arsenal?
(Laughs) I don’t know! I think it was in the ’70s when I saw Charlie George. Paul Davis and Kenny Sampson went to my school so I think it was partly because those brothers were at my school. Especially Paul Davis because I actually kicked about with him. Kenny Sampson had just left. So I think that connection got me into it and I just kind of went that way. But even from before I went secondary school, as a little boy about six, I saw Charlie George in the FA Cup Final, he scored that goal and then Pat Jennings and all those brothers, I just got into Arsenal. And I ended up doing a song for them, for Wrighty and Kevin Campbell and all those guys. That was nice. So I’ve just been a Gooner since then and still a Gooner today. You don’t support Tottenham do you?
Cultural reggae artists tend to hold strong opinions on quite a few subjects. But one performer who takes being outspoken to a whole new level is Birmingham’s Macka B. Dubbed The Teacher, this uncompromising DJ has a Rasta-informed view on everything from diet and fashion to politics and music. If someone has done it, Macka is likely to have cut a song about it in a career stretching back into the ‘80s.
In those days, fast chatting hard dancehall (or “ragga”) and conscious roots and dub were headed in opposite directions. Yet Macka B, along with frequent production cohort the Mad Professor, fused the two styles into one sound. Since then he has taken his verbose vision to every corner of the globe: even conquering uncharted territory as the first reggae act to tour the Balkans.
Lately, however, relations haven’t been so sweet at home. Disillusionment with the decaying UK scene has led to the lion’s share of his time being spent on the continent. Back for a one-off gig in London with his friend Afrikan Simba, Macka B granted ‘SUP this rare interview. Unsurprisingly he had plenty to say.
Your latest album More Knowledge (Humal Records, 2008) has a library on the cover. What are you reading right now?
Well, if you come to my yard there’s so many books it’s kind of mad, you know? There’s too many! I read a lot of conscious books. A lot of books about African history. Some metaphysical books as well. There’s books like Blacked Out Through Whitewash which is a very deep book. There’s also Iceman Inheritance. I am reading a journal by a Rastaman in Bristol who is writing a new book which gives a very different slant on how people see Rastafari. He is showing a different slant from an original perspective going right back to ancient Egypt and ancient I-thiopia and before Israel. I also read a lot of health books: I am reading Nutricide by Dr L. O. Africa. I am reading a book called How To Stop the Doctor From Killing You by a man called Vernon Coleman. I read Marcus Garvey books. I read the autobiography of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie. There are too many great books. I have hundreds of books in the house.
Do you ever have time to re-read anything?
I read them and I go back over them as well because sometimes you have to read them again to feel the vibes. Sometimes things happen and you realise the vibes have taken you back to the book. Or maybe you are reading another book and that relates to a book you have read already. Because it’s all about knowledge and the people who write the books they are imparting their knowledge onto us. Some of them have passed away but it’s like the writer of the book is your brethren, you know?
Do you think people read enough these days?
One thing they used to say is ‘If you want to hide something from black people you put it in a book’ because black people are not supposed to read so much. But times are changing and wisdom and knowledge are increasing so it’s time for the people to read more. There was a time when the masses weren’t supposed to read. It was only supposed to be for the gentry, for the aristocrats to read. Now everybody can read so they can’t hide the knowledge any more.
Let’s talk about your music. You’re doing a lot of concerts on the continent. It’s a better market for reggae than in the UK now, isn’t it?
It’s bigger so obviously there’s more places on the continent than the UK. But you only have to look at the artists from Jamaica. Before when they used to come to England they used to do like maybe 10 shows from London to Brighton to Bristol to Leeds to Manchester and all around. But now – maybe two? London and Birmingham and that’s it. If you go to France you can do 20 or more. You go to Germany you can do 20 or more. So it’s obvious that the continent is supporting the reggae even more than England. The biggest reggae festivals are on the continent. There are some UK festivals like Boss Sounds and One Love but they are not on the same scale. You don’t have any really big, big reggae festivals in England. You have Summer Jam in Germany, you have Chiemsee in Germany and they’re all strictly reggae festivals where you get thousands and thousands of people. You have Rototom in Italy with thousands of people. You have festivals all over France all the time. You go to some obscure part of France and you see thousands of people coming out to see reggae shows. So yeah it’s on the continent and it’s a big world.
Why do you think Jamaican artists are doing fewer shows?
Because they are not promoting the reggae enough to the masses in England. The media has a big, big part to play. It’s like it’s part of a plan, the way I see it. Because one time England used to be the centre of reggae music apart from Jamaica. It was big, big, big. You had Reggae Sunsplash here and hundreds of people came and everything. But the media is trying to put all the youths onto like hip-hop and R&B because reggae is a revolution music. You get revolutionary people with revolutionary thinking. They don’t want no more Bob Marleys even though they big up Bob Marley to the max. They don’t want no more Bob Marleys because he was dangerous and made the people think too much. So I see it as a plan.
Can you give us an example of this plan in action?
For instance, when I was in Germany last week I did the Chiemsee Festival and we go back to the hotel and we are watching one of the German main stations, like BBC or ITV over here. And what do you see? They are showing the Summer Jam festival. Excerpts from Bunny Wailer and these people. And you don’t see that here: they’re not pushing it here. You’ll see Glastonbury with the rock and everything but you won’t see a reggae festival on BBC. And even the music during the daytime when you’re listening to the national radio – you won’t hear any real reggae music. You might hear one Bob here and there. You might hear one of the commercial ones like a Sean Paul or a Shaggy or whatever but you won’t hear any real reggae music and that’s up and down the country. You have a lot of stations up and down the country that don’t play any reggae whatsoever and that’s not right. It should be something that’s accounted for.
Hasn’t it always been hard to get reggae played on mainstream radio?
It’s harder now. I don’t think it’s always been this hard because back then you had reggae in the charts. You had Dennis Brown going number one. Althea and Donna. Bob Marley with “Exodus”. There’s always been a few. Even Beres Hammond when he was with Zap Pow. So it’s very much harder now. It’s not just the reggae music. It’s the media itself. They’re trying to turn the people into sheeple, you know? They want the people to just follow one way.
What way is this?
They love when the people are into the negative. Because there are a lot of positive things about. Not just reggae – even hip-hop. Because there’s a lot of positive hip-hop. You don’t really hear it on the mainstream. You have to search hard for it. But the negative ones? The 50 Cent and all these things? You don’t have to search for it. It’s just there in your face. And you have to wonder: how come all this negative is just in the people’s face? So it’s not just about the music: it’s bigger than the music. Anything that is positive is put round the back. And reggae music, especially the roots reggae music with the message is very positive. And if you notice on TV and many other things they are not pushing the positive. Especially here because they know the power of the people here and they could really change the world. Because the people here have a distinct vibration, you know? And through things which have happened in the past I definitely think they are trying to keep down the people in England. The black people in England and also the white people in England as well. They’ve been doing it for many years and any time they see anything rising up to edify the people they try and cut it out. So that’s why I think personally that’s why the reggae is like that here.
Give me an example of how they keep the people down.
With everything. If you just look on the Tell-Lie-Vision at the way they bombard the people with foolishness. Soap operas and Big Brother and all these kinds of things while at the same time they’re just taking advantage of the people. Everything is just money-orientated.
How did you go from being anti-red meat to being a vegan?
I realised that a lot of the things happening to people are because of their diet and I strongly believe that man was never supposed to eat meat. There’s a lot of fruit and vegetables that people can eat. Often when people are sick, the first thing the doctor says is ‘Bwoy you have fi come off of di meat’ – so why don’t we say that from before? You have to wait until you’re sick to do any thing about it? That’s one of the problems with this society and the way the medicine is. It’s always you have to wait until you’re sick then treat the symptoms. But prevention is much better than cure.
You mentioned earlier that you were reading How To Stop the Doctor From Killing You. Are doctors part of the plan?
When you get sick you have to go to hospital and it’s a money thing again. Once they get you as a patient you are a patient for life. That’s why you have to be careful of the doctors. The least amount of time you can see the doctor is the better for you.
So what’s the alternative?
As I said the people are always being used and abused – we have to get wise and realise you have to be your own doctor. And the greatest way you can do that is in the way that you eat. Because some of the things people are eating are not food: it’s just chemicals made to look like food and taste like food. How you can have something like a strawberry milkshake and it has colouring in it? It’s obvious that it’s got colouring in it because it’s not red and the strawberry is not really strawberry – you see what I am saying? So it’s all these kinds of things that are fooling the people and if the people knew what they were really eating they wouldn’t eat certain things.
Junk food for example.
I burn McDonald’s all the while. When people go to McDonald’s they don’t know what’s in a Big Mac. There’s no label on there to say what it actually is. It could be anything. Any form of meat. It might not even be meat. But people don’t care because of the propaganda and the way it’s marketed and it’s supposed to be a big thing and it’s fashionable. We have to look beyond that and we have to see reality and look for the truth and see what is real and what is not real.
One of your most popular songs is “Legalise The Herb”. For you herb is a sacrament.
Yeah man, it’s a holy herb. It’s a sacrament and also it’s one of the most versatile if not the most versatile herbs on the planet. It was given to us by The Creator for many things – not only to smoke but you can drink it you can eat it and hemp oil has very great properties. You can make clothes out of it as you know with the hemp. You can use it for fuel, you can make paper out of it, rope out of it – you can make many, many things out of it. The only reason it’s not legal comes down to a money thing again.
Because the timber people know that hemp makes better stronger paper. The pharmaceutical people know that hemp has very good medicinal properties that can help in many, many things. So that would mash up their chemical thing, you know? You have the cotton people who know that hemp grows for longer lasting and a better quality – that would mash up for their thing too. So it’s all a money thing and people think that marijuana was illegal from the beginning of time. But it’s not that long ago that it was legal. All the bibles – the paper was made from hemp. All the sails of the ships when you see them sail – is all made from hemp. So it’s a very versatile crop and vegetable and herb and everything.
What’s stopping these countries from legalizing?
The hypocrisy is really coming from America, which is why they ban it and everybody a follow-follow America. But the hypocrisy is America grows some of the best ganja in California and you can get a marijuana medical card from a doctor. And if the police stop you, you show them your medical card no matter if you have X amount of herb on you – it’s for medicinal purposes. When I was there last I was looking in the paper and saw some advert that was saying ‘Do you suffer from asthma and glaucoma or migraine? Apply for a medical marijuana card.’ And these are the same people who burn down the herb fields in Jamaica. The same people who fight against the herb when it’s other people’s. But when they have it now it’s cool. So it shows the hypocrisy of America because they know how great the marijuana is.
Is it possible to misuse herbs? Is everyone that smokes using it in a positive way?
I am a man who loves natural things and some of the new chemical forms are not really beneficial. It can mess up people. It has to be in the sun because the sun has certain vibrations and certain properties that are passed on to people. And also from the ground – from the earth. Because it’s not all about strength. It’s a spiritual thing, you know? It’s not about strength and power. It’s like I can drink 10 pints of beer and the next man can only drink five. It’s a different thing completely. It’s a spiritual thing. It’s a connection with The Almighty Rastafari The Creator of All Things. That’s how we see it so you have to be very careful nowadays of certain kinds of herbs because a man just thinks it’s all about the strength but it’s about the vibes.
You’re still touring tirelessly all over the world. You played two shows on Saturday. Do you ever think of slowing down?
No we just start! We have a message to spread and we have to give it to the four corners of the earth. We’re too long to slow down. We I look upon the circuit I see some man of 70-odd, 80, I even know a man in Birmingham, Andy Hamilton who is 90-odd and he’s still doing shows every single week. And you look at that and we say ‘Bwoy, we’re still young’! So as long as the body can take it we’re still going to keep doing the right things. Because we don’t abuse we-self, you know?
So you’ll be going for years to come?
As long as the people keep loving it. Because a lot of people respect the later works as well as the earlier works and they give thanks saying ‘You still blaze certain fire after all these years.’ We still stay straight, one way, and we no switch and we no succumb to the system and all these kinds of material things. We always try to help the youths so for the sake of the youths we have to carry on as well and set an example for them. Because there’s so much negativity around that if you leave it to the system, the system will take away the youths. You have to make as much noise as possible. And it’s not just us. We are like a chain, you know? So you have the people at the radio stations as well – the radio DJs. They have to play the music so they put out the message as well. And even the I, as a journalist – you write certain things and people have to read about certain positive things. So we are all part of a chain. We are all links in this chain so we all need one another to go forward in this thing and to really fight against the system and bring peace and love.