photo by Billy Espejel


Tell me a little bit more about . . .you're talking about going to Africa, what trips have you made to Africa and how has that [affected your views]?

Is years we been talking about Africa. We write about Africa. Talk to people about Africa, but we have never been to Africa until recently. Well, not recently, 1982 was the first trip we go -- went to Nigeria. [When] we went to Ethiopia, that I think changed my whole concept of nuff ting even within Rasta -- just going there.

Did you go on that 82 trip, also to Ethiopia?

No, I went to Ethiopia two years ago. That trip to me revolutionize my whole thinking. It is almost like Malcolm X going to Mecca. Come back and say, bwai, him whole concept of Muslim change. Well to me, that is what that trip do to me. Going to Ethiopia, my whole concept of Rastafari and me attitude towards certain concepts change totally.

Give me an example of where you were and where you are after.

For instance, I could a see clearly how Rome influence my belief, even though I was a Rasta. Because there is a lot of Roman concepts that is embedded in us that we really believe say is an African concept. And when you go to Ethiopia, you see it clear. Because when you look into Ethiopia, you see the Roman influence, even in the orthodox religion. And that is very hard for a man inna Jamaica to stomach. Fe say, Rome really influence Ethiopia religiously. When I go to Ethiopia, I go to Ethiopia and look and I go to all of the famous places that them say you must go. Lalibela, Axum and ting. My whole concept of Rasta change. My whole perception of 'what is dis ting me a say fe years?' This Rastafari concept. And when me hear certain people talk about Rasta and wey me do. As I said before, that is [like] when I read and hear say Malcolm X go a Mecca and come back and him start to look pon tings different. Well, the same way it happen to me when I got to Ethiopia. Me start to see Rasta in a different light. Me start to examine me beliefs. Me start to examine this Ethiopian ting, dis Roman ting, dis Jesus ting, dis God concept, dis Haile Selassie. Wha me a say when me say Haile Selassie? And I feel say, it mek me stronger. Cause now, even though me could a did talk, like Mutabaruka can talk, but now, me can talk more about me understanding of Rasta. And that is now what we project pon de program that it cause a whole heap of conflict. And that, as you say now, it make a whole heap of things change through that one program, seen? That trip to me, as I said, is one of the main influences on mi life. Wey change turn round everything inna mi mind. Bout Rastafari, the struggle of Jesus and Rome, and Haile Selassie and ting.

Then now, we go Senegal, and then me go, Ghana. We go Ghana twice inna two weeks too. So Ghana now. Me see certain things inna Ghana, never have no spiritual effect pon me. It have a physical effect. Is like Ethiopia is the spiritual and Ghana is the physical. In other words, if I did want to search for mi inner self, I wouldn't go a Ghana. But if I want to materialistically, be an African, I'd a go a Ghana. So Ghana is like a gateway to me, to Africa. If you want to call it a certain way, Ghana is like the gate to heaven, but Ethiopia is really heaven. But we nah look pon it as heaven as how people would say, utopian kind of Heaven. Ghana seem to be a place where you can go deh and go mek life. Like inna Jamaica. It more Jamaica. Like a Jamaican who go deh a feel out a place. Ghana to me is a place weh, if tomorrow morning me have certain portion of money, and we should really do it, me a just go deh. Go set up mi business and do certain ting. But in the spirit now, if ya a search fi that awakening, you couldn't go a Ghana. Ya haffe go a Ethiopia. Even within Ethiopia, me could a analyze within myself, say Rome influence Ethiopia, even the church, which is the main influence in the whole of Ethiopia. Rome have it gripping deh, that you, as a Rasta haffe wake up. Even you, even though you say you conscious, but Rome embed something inna you to a level where, is almost like you haffe go just scrape off yourself, your mind, and start over again. When you see and when you think pon all the thing them, weh Rome do. Because here you are inna de oldest empire pon Earth, but when you look you say, 'But bloodclot! A Roman ting dis!' Virgin Mary and dis and dat. How this reach clear up on the highest mountain and ting. You go to Jamaica and you tell a Rastaman and dem vex with you. So when we look now and we start to say, the revolution and the evolution of a man like me now, who a search and carry certain consciousness, belief system. You really wan go tell a man is make him seh, but bloodclot Muta, how you a tink dat? How you a change? And ya say, but change is inevitable. And is not even just change, evolution. Because we still see Haile Selassie, but we a evolve it to the level now where Haile Selassie is even higher now than God, because God is something inna your mind and Haile Selassie is more real than just your mind. Haile Selassie is both mind and body. You haffe relate to Haile Selassie not just a mind, but what has he done to the African continent. He's the most respected head of state ever in Africa. All European nations bow to Haile Selassie.

You're saying you find that respect everywhere in Africa?

No, not what people think of Haile Selassie, is what I

What you know that Haile Selassie did?

No, I don't know that.

Okay, I'm sorry, keep explaining . . .

I a say, what I see Haile Selassie do in Earth to me is what I would a think say, this is Christ. So just like when a man relate and say Jesus, look what Jesus do, him is the Christ, I a say, what Haile Selassie do, he is the Christ. A Christ is not a man. Christ is a way. Is an idea. Right? And men can manifest, just like how Buddha, dem say Buddha manifest the Christ, but him don't say Christ. Dem say Buddha, or Hare Krishna, but you don't say Christ, cause you're not in the English speaking world. In the English speaking world, you refer to that spirituality as the Christ. I a seh now, the Christ to I, I can see it in the works of Haile Selassie. So now, I am not now dealing with an object as God, cause that is what we were taught. We were taught to say that we emphasize the object. I am now saying now. The way. And the way now manifest in man. But because I am not The Man, I would have to link now, a man with my past and my present. And when I study Haile Selassie, that is where is see the link. Because I couldn't study Jesus, because there is no record of Jesus past and link, more than them was coming from a virgin. If you have a virgin birth, there is no link with the past. Because you must haffe have a man and woman fe link your past. If you don't have a man and a woman fe link you're past, you cyaan study the past. You don't have no present. There is no presence of Jesus in my lifetime. Is only here I hear about this mon. And I can tink bout many tings about dis mon. Now Haile Selassie is to me definite. I don't have to tink anything. I can look on videos. I can read. I can hear people who have experienced him. I can do all of these things. And then I can go into myself and evaluate what is what and what is not. And separate the myth from the reality and come to a conclusion. And that is what we do.

On the level of your diet, you're a vegetarian, you don't eat dairy products . . .

No animal products, me don't cook neither.

How is that part of the way?

The part of the way now is after you experiencing. You start to develop other things. We go up inna de hills and we live fe years inna de hills and we start to experience thing. And we start to experience how dis thing can work. Is not just saying it. I never see Rasta through reggae. I was not a reggae artist when I become a Rasta. I was a Rasta first. Reggae come late, late, late dung [down] inna my Rasta life. Is not like Bob Marley change me concept of life. I never see Rasta through Bob Marley music. I never start to write poems because of Bob Marley.

Can not the way be seen through the music?

Yea, of course. I'm just trying to show you how I come to. . . I just show you now how I experience like, even not eating [meat]. I did have to experience certain things. And I experience now seh, the killing ting fe survive, when nothing don't harm you, is ridiculous. I haffe go evaluate that now inna myself. I say but wait, stop and think, why eat meat?

If you don't eat it, you don't die(!)

Why you a eat it? It a ridiculous concept. Eating meat to me, is a ridiculous concept. Just like smoking cigarettes is a ridiculous concept. For me, for a man to put a ting inna him mouth and a (makes a smoke puffing/blowing sound) . . . is ridiculous. I mean, animals don't do them ridiculous thing. I don't see animals do nothing that is not conducive to them way of life. Everything an animal do is to survive. And to keep it in context of his way of life. Cigarettes have nothing to do with [man's] way of life, other than something that man develop inna him quest fe be different from other animals.

But some animals do eat [other animals] . . .

Yea, but that is keep between the animal way. Animals eat meat, but you have animals weh don't eat meat.

I'm just using your own example. . .

It don't matter to me if animals eat meat or don't eat meat. I say man never make fe eat meat. But him develop that through time, you nah see't? And through time now him start to make it like this is what is supposed to happen. Just like when him smoke a cigarette. Him never make fe smoke cigarette, but him start fe smoke cigarette and it come like dis is the norm now, so I a say now, you haffe look into all these things. You start looking into it and you start to experience. You start to test yourself. Can I do without this, can I do without that? Can man do without cooked food? You don't haffe kill nothing really. Not even vegetable ya haffe kill. You go [and] eat fruit here, ya nah fe eat nuttin pon de ground, ya just eat everything offa de tree. Original. The Bible first did say, I give you all the fruits and the herbs of the field fe meat. So meat is not really flesh you know. So we go through them process deh. And we haffe top turn and twist round everything inna we mind.

So the vegetarianism in a way, seems to me as, you take from the earth the least that you need.

Yes. It's a natural progression mon. A spiritual mon, a mon who is in him consciousness, would eventually stop eating meat. It's just a natural thing. There's no two way about it. Animal blood and spirituality don't go together. A mon cyaan tell me seh him a mix up him flesh. Even the Native Americans, them [who] would do it, them apologize fe doing it. If you check the prayers of the Native Americans, him kill the animal but him apologize. Even within that context, him know seh something going down that is not human. Is animalistic, is not human. So we haffe return to that humanness inna us that make life meaningful. We haffe return to understanding the feminine. We haffe understand Mother Earth. Understand just life Rasta.

From your food haffe run weh from you is not your food. Simple. If your food is your food, it's supposed to stay there with you. And if you is a human being, you're supposed to take that into consideration. You is not a hunter, praying pon other creatures and tings. So what if a man get eaten by a fish? If you deh inna de sea and you trouble the fish inna dem own environment now, and the fish eat you. You deserve fe get eaten. I hope that one day men will create some mutation of fish that fish can come pon land and eat man.

Could happen (!) . . .

(laughs). That is why I say I hope for that day. People will see the ridiculousness of going into the sea to take out the fish fe eat it. Man can do without the fish. There is so much things inna de sea him can eat. Dulce? Kelp. Seaweed. I mean all of them things in the sea you can eat. Irish moss, you know?

[At the point, I was asking Muta about a kumina woman in St. Thomas, the parish adjacent to St. Andrew to the east]

Is that part of [Jamaica] . . . People say that it's the most African part of Jamaica.

Obeah, yea. So them say. Them say them link obeah and ting with Africa. Through dung deh so de people seh, deh a obeah dung deh. Dem seh is more African.

But you don't see that as essentially African?



Yea mon! Obeah African, but it turn trickery now. So it nah African again. Is some African weh a work trick now. Is not African weh a work obeah. Nuttin no wrong with obeah. Just some can't pass obeah, not it's trickery. So is not Africans doing obeah, is some Africans tricking people into saying is obeah them a do. But obeah and voodoo is African. But dem nah do obeah and voodoo ya so now, dem do trick. Dem tell ya seh dem can make dis happen and you get back ya mon fi you. All dem ting deh is trick. Seen? So we no really relate to it.

Is there something else of that part of the island is more African?

Well, people say that. People say that. People always, anytime them talk about part of the island a certain way, dem use dat. Just like a mon say when you come from Mucco, inna Clarendon, dem say ya stupid. But is not really true. Not everybody come from Mucco stupid, but people say, "where you come from, Mucco?" That way people used to cuss people inna Jamaica. Well is that them a say, bwai, me go a St. Thomas go get obeah fi you. Some kinda have dem link deh, link daweh deh. Just like a mon say him go a Tivoli [Gardens] and get a bad gunman. [As though] Everybody a gunman in Tivoli.

End of interview for April 3, 1998.

Beginning of interview, Sunday, August 5th, 1998

I listened back to the interview from Friday. I wanted to make clear that I understood what you're saying about one particular thing about going to Ethiopia. You were talking about how that experience for you, how it was like Malcolm X going to Mecca. And I took that because you said that it turned your mind, and you also saw the Roman influence in Ethiopia and you talked about trying to really strip away and examine the things about yourself that you may have thought were really African concepts that may have in fact been Roman concepts. Did that cause you to continue to want to reject the those concepts, or did that cause you to thing that there were Roman concepts that were valid.

No, reject it. When we see the Roman concept, we see a whole heap of things that, for instance in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, there is a lot of influence . . . that is held to be Ethiopian, that . . . is Roman. A lot of de dogmas in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is Roman, but because it is from Ethiopia, and because it is covered up with Ethiopian influences, the core of it is Roman. Jesus is a Roman concept. Is a Greek-Roman concept. It don't have no relevance to the mon who live two-thousand years ago. For instance, . . . there is no word for the man that lived two-thousand years ago in Amharic. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church used the Greek word Jessos Christos. Jessos Christos is a Greek word, but it is used in the church to represent Christ, Jesus Christ. So, one would wonder how such an influence is held in Ethiopia, when Ethiopia is such an ancient, ancient place.

Plus there is other things, but is a lengthy, lengthy . . . is a next interview.

Yea, I'm sure you've done Cutting Edge shows on this.

Yea mon, we have done a lot of reasoning. Right now sometime we are even under fire the Rastafari community, because we speak what we see and what we believe, what understand to be the truth. There is lot of misconceptions about Ethiopia. And there is a lotta things Rastafari things Rastafari switch from Judeo-Christianity to Rastafari. In other words, there is no difference in a lotta the beliefs in Rasta with Judeo-Christianity. Christianity is myth, is mythology, and a lot of it has enslaved black people mentality to the true essence of what blackness is all about.

I get the vibe that some people who talk Rasta also accept Christ in a . . .

Christian way. Well, yea. I accept Christ, because Christ to me is a concept. As we say [day before] yesterday, is not a man. That concept dwells within man and it moves from one man to the next man to many men. To say that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son is a Christian concept, political concept. It has nothing to do with, what is dis mon representing on Earth and how he reveal what Christ is all about. Even himself he say even before Abraham was Siam??? So one would have to add what is he speaking of when he says 'before Abraham was Siam.' Is he talking about his physical being man? Or is he talking about the ideas that he was professing. I see Christ as a way. Is an understanding toward a greater meaning in life. Maybe you wouldn't use it in China as the same word, but the idea is there.

The fundamental irony with Christians that I have a problem with is that you have to accept Him instead of his way.

Him! Yes! That is the problem. Well, you see Rastas now switch that to Haile Selassie which is a danger.

Saying that you have to accept . . .

Haile Selassie, or you're in a problem. So we come away with a different conclusion about that.

That seems like a statement that would vex some Rastas.

Of course, it vex a whole heap of Rasta.

How long have you held that view that you don't have to accept . . .

Well now is I accept Haile Selassie. I no [have] business about a next mon. I no business if a next mon want say Haile Selassie is this and Haile Selassie is that. I a say Haile Selassie. That is my personal interpretation. Haile Selassie say a mon religion is his personally thing. Seen? So I don't care if a next mon wan say Haile Selassie. I nah go tell him seh him have to say it.

No, but you just said that saying 'Haile Selassie, you have to accept him as your savior,' that would be the danger, parallel to doing the same thing with Christ. . .

With Christ. I a say now. I not going to tell a next man that him have to accept it. I a say, Haile Selassie is my Christ.

Your way.


So, what I was asking you is then how long have you had that concept of [Haile Selassie]?

From me a teenager. From we used to go school. We a say Rasta from school days. Maybe 18, 19, now we is 45.

I'm going to jump around to a couple different subjects here. The issue of censorship in Jamaica is an interesting one. As many problems as we have in the United States, we don't say, such and such song is banned from the radio per se, but I know that you've had a run into it with the People's Court. I wondered what you had to comment about the issue of artistic censorship.

To me what I see happening now. The more they ban the record is the more dem sell. People's Court is my biggest selling 45 in Jamaica, and that is because it was banned. Apart from it being what it is. And there is a tune name "Fire Pon Rome" by Anthony B. Now when I started to play that song on the radio. I was the first one to play that song on radio in Jamaica. And I played it one week on the radio, and no one said anything, but now it started to increase certain lickle vibes and then I was told to stop playing it on the radio. When I stop playing it on the radio. I started to read the words, because I say if I cyaan play, I'm going go read it! As see if a man tell me seh I cyaan read it. Anyway, that generated a lot of interest in the song. And the song, because it was banned, it seems as if people wanted to find out about it. There is a curiosity about things that is banned. I don't think banning things help to suppress it. I don't see't. Because I have experience with that, and I see it happen to other songs. Even the other day when there were a whole heap of slack songs, like what them call lewd songs. And they say, not fit for airplay, people go out and try to find them lewd song and play it. So I don't think it help. Ganja is another case in mind. Them ban ganja and thing, and it illegal, and it don't help [to stop it].

That reminds me of something. You're known as a 'non-ganja smoker,' but you're not opposed to consuming the herb by eating it?

No, no, me eat it. Nothing no wrong with it. Me grow up in a society where me grandmother used to make tea with it. To me the worst thing you can do with herbs is smoke it. To me, the worst thing you can do to herb is smoke.

Just because of what it does to the body?

Smoking in no form is good for your body. A man cannot inhale smoke. I don't see it.

It also makes it a more casual thing. It removes it from what it could be as a sacrament.

Yea, when I just start to sight Rasta, man never used to smoke spliff. Is chalice me see man bun. Man sit dung round a group or a community and start to praise, read psalms and bun chalice. See, every little minute a man take up a spliff. Spliff to me come like a habit rather than a ritual. Is a habit. Man come in a habit now where him haffe have a lickle spliff. When Rastafari was saying that it a ritual, Rastafari use the herbs as a sacrament. But now, Rastafari use the herbs as a habit. And sometimes, a whole heap a Rasta, when them cyaan get the herbs him use cigarette and him use Beadie, all these lickle tings dat is takin de place of ganja now. So one wonders what this smoking is all about really.

So what do you think about chalice smoking? Does that have a proper role still?

That's what I'm saying. I a say, the role of the ganja was in the chalice. It wasn't in the Rizzla paper. The role of the ganja was in chalice. Rizzla is a lickle hippy ting, where a mon roll up a lickle joint when him feel a habit fe smoke. Him don't have no semblance of rituals in it. For instance now, you see some mon roll up, him take tobacco and put inna de spliff. What is that all about? That is not a ritual. That is a habit. That don't have nothing fe do with Rastafari sitting and praising Jah and opening him meditation to a higher heights. It has something fe do with him have a bad habit. And the bad habit him don't want to smoke cigarette, him smoke ganja. When him can't get the ganja him used beadie or anything else.

Is there a ritualistic way to consume it or [eat] it that way?

I don't see ritual. Ritual is a means to open up the higher consciousness. Iyah seen seh, one supposedly can find that higher consciousness inna him levels as a normal ordinary person, because we're not searching for God. Is not God we search for. We a search for we inner being. We inna self. So, if you cyaan find ya inner self as you are, then there's no inner self to be found. That is how I see it.

Yea, fair enough. Here's something that comes up from African-American deejays who play reggae. One specifically wanted me to ask you this question cause he struggles trying to get Africans in America to respond to the music, to get the message to them. He plays the music on the radio and finds it's more white people who listen and come to the shows. Now, there's a concept, originally it seemed like this music [reggae] came
as music for Black liberation, but then it got either interpreted or it got taken as a unity music for all races. And so it has a lot of different concepts in it. I wonder if you could speak to that broad range of ideas.

Yea, well, you see music is music and man cyaan really define which music is which music until you listen to it still, but the music is really a people crying out, black people crying out to be heard about them situation, social, politically, and religious. I guess a lot of people identify with it, black and white, because most people is oppressed. But then the sentiments is mostly Black. So the question is now, how come if it is black, so much white people rally to it. Is the marketing. The marketing of the music was not marketed amongst black people. Plus black people in America is isolated from the mainstream of the music. So black people is kind of what you call indigenously with black music in America, jazz, rhythm and blues and ting. So all other music to black people in America seem to be outside music, calypso, reggae and ting. Whereas white people get the opportunity in the mainstream fe listen to most of what is happening, so they adopt to this music. They rally round to the Jamaican. Is long time, even from ska, cause if you notice now, is mostly white people play ska. Well, you see ska is coming outta a kind of experience. . . First, white people have this way of trying to grasp culture, to become part of the culture, whereas black people feel now, even in Jamaica, Jamaican people is Jamaican ting dem a deal with. People resent hip-hip fe come into dem ting. Same way in America. The black people feel dem seh, reggae is an outside ting and dem feel threatened if it come into them ting. So is a kind of 'keep back dat' until big major companies, which is also white now, open it up. But they don't open up what the music is about to the black people. They open the decadence of the music. And the decadence of the music is what influence Black America. You see Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and all these mon, influence white America. Them never influence Black America. What influence black America now is Shabba Ranks, Beenie Man and these deejays. Which to me now, that is the part of the music that I would prefer not to be international. Because when Bob Marley and these mon was making music, there was no big record company there to promote them.

There was Island?!

Yea, but there was no Epic and CBS and ting. The advent of Shabba and these man now, which the music take a different turn now. You see all these artists was being signed up. And these artists now get fused with what black America was listening to, which is hip-hop, so black America start to accept hip-hip. But now, black America is doing the dancehall music, so the big record companies don't need fe sign up the Jamaican artists again, because they can go for a youth inna Harlem and inna east LA fe do the same ting weh Shabba dem a do. So that take back seat again. But we see that there is a certain openness to culture even to the point of wanting to assimilate the culture and then use it against the same people who [are from] this culture by white people in America.

Give me an example of that.

Well, for instance now, you sign up a artist who is supposed to be saying tings and you tell him say bwai, this nah go sell. Is not culture you a sell, is records, so therefore now you haffe go drop your culture fe deal with the sales of records. That is making the music dormant. Big white record companies are not interested in culture. They interested in sales of records, so the culture is not what they want to sell. And if the culture seem to be a culture that can facilitate change, they're not going to partake of it.

What do you think about the success over time of Heartbeat Records? They don't suppress any culture.

Heartbeat Records is not a major record company.

True, but that's where you find true reggae.

Most record companies in America is white companies, but what we're saying is that the culture, you see, a million seller, there is no number one reggae tune in America that is done by a Jamaican. Every Jamaican that do a tune that goes to number one is a fusion. We're talking from like Maxi Priest. Maxi Priest tune name "Close To . . ." what it name? . . . was not reggae. The only true reggae that go to number one was UB40, "Breakfast In Bed." And now you have a next dancehall tune that go number one with Snow. Shabba Ranks tune wha go number one was fusion. So you still don't have a number one reggae tune from a Jamaican, who produce, who create the music. One would haffe look in I mind now, how could that be? How is it that so much reggae tune come out of Jamaica and you never have a hard-core Jamaican, singing a Jamaican tune that go number one pon de mainstream? You ask the question, one ask the question, so if really these white liberal record companies was really doing something for the culture. It would be portrayed within the charts. Now when you look on the American hip-hop scene now. Any hip-hip tune will sell millions and go number one, because it is American already. And there is a way to sell music here. And even if the music is derogatory in the hip-hop scene, it's all about making money. It's about marketing. It's not about the art form. It's about making money. So if a man go out deh and say him going to go shoot a police or rape a woman, and dem see that can make money, them going to make it go number one. That is the heights of American capitalism by middle class white men that run the whole business. But when you look on the whole thing, you see how it could a really suppress one ting and rise up the next ting if it want to. Bob Marley go through because him done gone through already. If Bob Marley was alive today, Bob Marley wouldn't be as big as how Bob Marley is today. Because first of all the music would a confuse him with the dancehall ting. He wouldn't have no place inna Jamaican society, and then them would a say, 'bwai this Rastaman yah with him dreadlocks a flash all over de place an talk bout Africa.' Ya nah see't? It's almost like a novelty now. Him is dead, what can he do now? The music live on. The music don't change nothing really. I mean individuals, but things get worse really, when you look pon it. The progress of black people seems to be stepping two steps back rather than three step forward when you look on the whole scheme of the whole thing.

The only example I can think of where a Jamaican artist recently had a shot on a major release in the United States was the Mystic Revealers last album called This One's For Jah. And the label was Mesa [distributed by Atlantic]. And they were also dealing with Steel Pulse at the same time. And they also took a Mikey Bennett compilation with Michael Rose, Freddie McGregor, Coco Tea, and Bunny Ruggs called Grafton 4 By 4.

But nothing come of the albums . . .

No, in fact they may be dropping out of reggae entirely.

Nothing become of the albums, because you see the illusion. . . They don't use the music already now. Dancehall music was what was supposed to be it, because them pump a lot of money in it and them make a whole heap of money in it. But then now, is some youth from Jamaica. . .

I want to touch back now on the exposure of the culture music to black America. A lot of it comes, it's not all through mainstream radio, that's one avenue, but the underground, independent, the college radio, the community radio . . .

Yea, but it was exposed by the mainstream. Shabba Ranks was mainstream. And Shabba Ranks was the one who black America, the youth them, start to look at.

Why, if there's a deejay here in DC who is on a small radio station who plays roots reggae, and I'm sure there are somewhere, then why doesn't that get across.

Because him doesn't control the mainstream. For instance me now, I was made known by the college stations in America. College stations used to play Mutabaruka. But Mutabaruka was played by college stations and college youth them listen to it. And it was there. Mutabaruka sell nuff records in America, but it is not mainstream. But it would make a difference now if . . . For instance, let me give you a good example of a tune. Ini Kamoze make a tune pon a compilation album, right, "Hotstepper." And the tune was there pon the compilation, and some guy take it and start to play it pon a mainstream station and boom, the tune sell a million. And Ini Kamoze get big record deal. Now, Ini Kamoze a push culture. But Ini Kamoze album now is culture album. You don't hear nothing more about Ini Kamoze album them again, because it is not what the big record companies see. As a matter of fact, they railroad it! Is almost like them a railroad a ting. Like these Jamaican Rasta youth a talk bout weh dem a see bout 'burn down Babylon.' Them don't wan hear that. Them want to hear something that a hip-hop youth would a sing, bout woman, gun, ghetto, certain way. Dem don't want dem a tell you say, 'bwai, right now, America system is a fraud, and the pope is this and that.' White people hear that, them listen to it, but them don't want it to be what it's supposed to be because that can be a serious thing.

Because they're invested in the system. If you're invested and you're part of the system . .

It's ridiculous. I wouldn't a invest inna de pope tings if it come on Jamaica. If the pope make a record, I nah go invest in it! (laughs). I'd a try railroad it! (laughs). I'd railroad it Jamaica! Yea, you haffe look pon it dahweh deh.


There's something I want to get your perspective on. It's more about Jamaican culture than music. This craze that's going on about the football team, the Reggae Boyz. How do you feel about that?

That is the biggest thing happen to Jamaica since reggae music. That soccer thing is the biggest thing happen since reggae music. Not since Bob Marley has Jamaica got so prominent. I was in Europe the other day. I did twenty shows in about eight different countries, and that was what was happening -- the Reggae Boyz. That is a phenomenon.

Good for Jamaica?

Yea mon! It good for Jamaica. It's the truth. It's since, you hear about Marlene Ottey. You hear about all these athletics. You hear about Shabba Ranks. But I tell you, Bob Marley did the greatest thing for Jamaica in this time. And not since Bob Marley has Jamaica received so much from so little. I tell you, it is a phenomenon. I mean the other day we come yah so inna de football. Fifty-thousand people inna de stadium, and even the American, some white Americans behind me was freaking out. Dem cyaan believe say, is almost like them say, 'shit, these little natives come here and draw!' That is the feeling ya a get from them. 'Who is this lickle country that come a America, come and draw with big, big America in front of 50-thousand people.' We go a England last week. We beat one and draw with the next. Brazil, we draw with Brazil! The biggest football team. I hear that and I did freak out. Yea, that is something else. I hope it maintain itself.

What kind of manifestation have you seen in the music, music about the football team. I know Fred Locks did a tune . . .

There is so much music in Jamaica now about the Reggae Boyz. The Reggae Boyz song them come like festival song. I tell you, the Reggae Boyz song them come like festival song. You have dozens of [songs]. They have this one tune that is a compilation of different different artists that is being promoted as the Reggae Boyz song, but nearly every artist do a Reggae Boyz song inna Jamaica right now. Is come like a festival thing. So June going to be something else in France.

Lot of people will go over to that?

Yea mon! Wha?! Yea mon, a whole heap of people go a France mon. A lot of people who can't afford it go a France. . . Ya a listen to people who is hardened footballers and them a say, bwai, them love it. Them love how the Jamaicans them a gwan. I deh a Milan and hear Italian youth a say Jamaica them a go cheer for [laughs]. Them want Jamaican tee-shirt. Everybody a tell you a please send a Reggae Boyz tee-shirt for them and all them weh deh. Is a ting.

Now that Jamaica has stepped onto that world stage in football, you know all the youth are going to try that much harder to be better football players.

That is what is happening now. You see the problem I have with these things now is that every youth inna Jamaica right now want to be a deejay. Every youth inna Jamaica going want be a footballer. What happen to chemist and scientist and all dem ting deh. We're going to turn out a generation of deejays. If you look pon all the deejay them now, them bring the son pon stage. Them a bring them daughter pon stage. I mean, what is that about? Wha'ppen to mechanics and welders and scientists.

Everybody wants to be a star . . .

Terrible. What happen to the Sun? The Sun brighter than the stars. It's a weird thing. I wouldn't want my youth them go turn poet right now. No, them must go study. My daughter do electronics. I love that, fe know seh my daughter and say she want do electronics. That is good.

Another current thing that's going on in the world. What do you have to say about the President of the United States going to Africa?

Well, is an obvious thing. America is now turning them eyes pon how them can control the economics in Africa fe benefit them. It just simple. It's all about economics and power. The French have a big foothold in Africa. So there is going to be a war between the French and the Americans to see who can manipulate and control most of the economy in Africa. America give more things to South Africa then Eastern Europe. There is more aid to South Africa than inna Europe from America. It just a whole part of spreading America's wings globally to deal with economics and power. It don't have nothing fe do with helping Africa. It has something fe do with how we can now . . . Japan look like now, it done gwan away. Or China seem not to be helping out the situation. Russia is by themselves. The French don't want have nothing fe do with America really. Cause everything America do them oppose it. Even with the Saddam Hussein thing. So, Africa. Them control the Caribbean with them Caribbean initiatives and them IMF [International Monetary Fund] plan. So what else is there to do now but go to Africa. Africa is the last place now that every mon a go turn them eye to. That is why the Rastaman is so relevant in his prophetic outlook pon tings. Africa is the fruit basket of the world, even though Africa is [continent] where the most suffering is. We know why the suffering is there, and we know how it is that it is the fruit basket of the world. Human existence start inna Africa. The whole slavery thing a go forward to Africa. Is who going control Africa is the most important thing in the new millennium. Very important place that. That is why the Rastaman always been saying 'Africa, Africa.' Marcus Garvey been saying Africa, because him understand that. Even Haile Selassie say from inna the 60s, "Africa has passed its Armagideon." Africa Armagideon was the slave trade. But the only place Africa can move is from low to high. The only place America and all these European countries can move is from high to low. We see that inna the Roman Empire. We see that inna the Greek Empire, the Persian Empire, the British Empire. So America now is the place. America has reached its zenith. There is no where else America can go but go back down now. So you must have places right now, and these places is going to rise up now out of the decadence of humanity, according to how people look on it, and this is Africa. Africa is going to be the focal point and the focus of most of these big nations now that is searching for serenity, economic power, stability fe them economy.

What do you mean by serenity?

I mean 'calm.' People want to find peace inna dem self, so them going to have to turn to African philosophy -- African ideas about humanity. They want economics. They going to haffe go turn now to Africa, because Africa now is almost like a virgin when it come on to exploitation. Even though it has been exploited minerally. There is other things there to be exploited still, that these big companies and big multinationals still don't ever touch yet. So they are going now to find out what can we do? The Germans is there. The Germans is in South Africa. Belgium, them buying up land. The British and the French is in North Africa. The English is in West Africa. Africa is going to be the place now that everybody focus pon.

But how can Africa resist this . . .

Africa haffe say, 'white supremacy is a detriment to them total existence.' Because that is what it is all about. It is spreading white supremacy. Most of these African leaders don't even understand that.

Right, they have the colonial mentality.

Yea, them have this colonial mentality, them want to go to Paris and drink wine. And then them exploit Africa, because of this colonial mentality. So we need fe get out this white supremacy attitude out of these African leaders. Get some new thinkers.

Some people have said there's not as much Africentrism among Africans as there is among Jamaicans. . .

No, because the Africans somehow feel that they are just Africans. They wasn't slaves. I guess, who feels it knows it. When you live inna de belly of the beast, you seem to want to free yourself more from the beast. McDonalds and Kentucky and Burger King and them ting deh is hardly in Africa. But when it in Africa now, you going go see how the Africans them react to it. And then it may be too late. So it's we out here. . . you see, Haile Selassie again says, "Africa await its creators." Haile Selassie say that. "Africa await its creators." The creators that [he] was talking about is those who were dispersed into this part of the world. Is we in this part of the world have to go to Africa.

Didn't Marcus Garvey say it would take an African from the West to redeem Africa?

Yea, Africa for Africans. So we a say now, is we. I mean we cyaan sit down yah so and be complacent. You see you have black people yah so now in America feel like seh 'this is it.' And them wear African clothes and talk black and ting, but when you talk bout going to Africa. . . that is the most important. That is why Rastafari to me is so important and relevant. Is for years Rasta been saying this: "Say watcha mon, we wan go Africa." And even Utopian as it may sound, but is we have to go to Africa to make Africa the Mount Zion that we talk about inna we mind. The heaven that we speak of . . . I don't know nothing about no heaven, you know. My heaven is Africa. And even if Africa is this Burundi-type looking place you see pon the TV, is there I want to go. Because I know seh, out of that, the sweet is the sweet must come. Yuh nuh see't? And we don't see no sweetness again in this part of the world. I no see no sweetness on-yah so. Me can get up everyday and do certain things freely in a certain way, but pon a long term ting, like how these guys was looking on it. Cecil Rhodes and dem mon dem sit down and plan tings, not for yesterday [or] tomorrow, but for 100 years down the line. Now them can control everything. That is how black people haffe dweet. Black people haffe look 100 years down the line. If I do something now, how it going to affect the people fifty years from now, twenty years from now. That is how we haffe look pon it. So if I do something yah so. How I going to make a difference in Africa itself for the benefit of African people?

Are you going to continue to stay in Jamaica? Or do you plan actually to move to Africa.

No, me haffe go Africa, Rasta. Me haffe go Africa. Man will always be going to and fro, but me haffe have something in Africa. You see me go there so much time yah so now, me a seh but wait, alright now we a talk, action time now. We haffe find something fe do in Africa, Rasta. Africa await its creators. We nah fe get come off of that. Haile Selassie say that. "Africa await its creators." The creators is me. Is I Him a talk bout. I take it personal. What I a do inna Jamaica, I mean you cyaan give up a continent fe an island, Rasta. Jamaica is over 100-odd miles long. You know how long it take you fe travel from South Africa to Cairo? Pon a train if there is a train or a car? Days, months . . . yuh nuh see't? I travel around Jamaica in five hours, four hours.

As far as spreading your message, have you ever looked into getting the Cutting Edge syndicated?

Bwai, the Cutting Edge is syndicated! When I say syndicated, is the most taped program inna Jamaica (laughs!). I know, I know, I know. People show interest but them never follow. I hear it pon radio. I go a England and I hear people play it pon radio. In Italy I hear mon a play it pon radio. As a matter of fact, I do some interview inna Europe the other day. And everybody a show off pon me, say them have a tape of the Cutting Edge and them play it. Actually, it has never been syndicated, but unofficially, it's selling in record shops like cassette. We go inna different record store and I see them a sell Cutting Edge.

I play pieces on my show.

Yea, everybody do it! I tell you something else, in England, the way dem a play it pon the radio, unabridged, with all the advertisements! (laughs) I remember one time we deh a Italy, a guy come inna de place selling the Cutting Edge cassette with all me picture pon the cassette, and the title, what I was talking about, the date of everything. And the sister I was with, she just [pick] up everything, bring inna a deh bus, and say, 'look yah! Inna Italy!' But is a phenomenon. The program deh. It really surprise I still fe see that everywhere I go, people have it. Plus we play music that is hardly played pon the radio in Jamaica. We have this world beat outlook. So we play music, not just reggae.

That's why I gave you that African music [and copies of The Beat].

I wan tell you is one of the best magazine throughout the place. When it come to evaluating music, cause most of the tune I read [about] in magazine, me have them. And me hear some writers that can write bout it, [and they write] the same thing me feel bout it. So me like a magazine weh a show you black music from all over the place, not just reggae, reggae, reggae. You see, some of them people is hypocrite. Because some of them a review record and just choose reggae, just choose Jamaica. Them don't want tell you exactly what them feel about it. I find that with a whole heap of them reggae magazines. Them don't want tell you seh, 'this a foolishness,' because somehow them might meet the artist, and them a go loose favor with the artist. When you look pon the different music weh dem cover, and this is not a promotion for the magazine either, but is like how it structure out. It like what me into. Me can look inna it and know seh bwai, me no seh that breddah have a next album, cause me may have a one album by a artist, but me no see him have a next album. Me in Jamaica, me wan keep up with it. Me go out there and mek find it. Me just a read one [about] Peru, the black music of Peru, and when me look pon de sista [Dera Tompkins], she did have it. Me read the magazine and me see it in deh, and when me look in her collection, me see it. Obviously make me go up deh an buy it now. So it help.

I'm glad to know it's well received.

Yea mon, me read it. Me don't read it for the reggae. Me read it fe de world beat music. Because the reggae to me. You see, me no limited. Reggae music to me is just a good music weh, we do certain tings. Me don't see myself as a reggae artist.

Yea, you incorporate all [black] styles.

I don't know if I wan get labeled as a reggae artist. Me is a one who a use anything that is necessary fe fulfill this track weh me deh pon. Black consciousness, black liberation.

You want to be labeled as an African artist . . .

Me want [be labeled] as an African, not just an artist, yea mon, me is a Rastamon. Me is a Rastamon, just dat.

One more subject, because Roger Steffens wanted me to ask you about this, and I noticed it when I listened to some Cutting Edge programs from several years ago. You spent a lot of time and maybe you still do, pushing Louis Farrakahn. You played his music, but some people feel that his message is divisive.

I no feel so. No mon. I play Malcolm X too. I spend a whole time pon {?}. I spend a whole time pon Marcus Garvey. So it go. I don't feel seh Farrakahn divisive. Farrakahn a deal with black liberation in America fe black people. So a lot of his sentiments may not be shared with people because them on another level. I a look pon it from a black perspective. To me Farrakahn is doing a good work fe black people in America. I may not agree with him Muslim vibe, but then again I nah go make the religion separate.

The comment was made because I never felt that Garvey or Malcolm X, after Malcolm X went to Mecca, were talking black liberation but not at the expense of anyone else.

No, well you never read Marcus Garvey yet?

Marcus wrote a lot of things. I haven't read everything.

The hitch weh people have with Farrakahn is about him Jewish ting.

If you feel seh Farrakahn is anti-semitic, according to how them put it . . . You haffe read Marcus Garvey fe know how Marcus Garvey feel bout Jews. It a serious ting. Farrakahn is a product of Elijah Mohammed. Mohammed is product of Marcus Garvey. Elijah Mohammed was a UNIA follower. Malcolm X parents, Marcus Garvey followers. Marcus Garvey was the basis of all of these tings. Tell Roger Steffens seh, he must read the Life and Lessons of Marcus Garvey. I don't remember the page or pages, but Marcus Garvey have some really anti-Jewish sentiments. But yea, Farrakahn to me a black leader. And we nah go exempt black leaders. White people can't come tell me who I must look pon as leader. Because white people give me Jesus over the years and I say Jesus has totally wreaked havoc inna de mind of black people. So white people can't come turn around and tell me who we must uphold as leaders because of them sentiments. Because if you don't like Farrakahn because of him Jewish sentiments then you would have to [not] like Marcus Garvey. Is the Jews them get Marcus Garvey out of America. Them trump up the charges them gainst him. And I can't repeat what Marcus Garvey seh, but you haffe go read it. One of these days when I see you again, go through the Life and Lessons of Marcus Garvey by Robert Hill. There is a next book named Message to the People by Tony Martin. If Roger Steffens feel that Farrakahn is anti-Jew and I shouldn't see Farrakahn, then him have to say the same thing about Marcus Garvey, because Marcus Garvey worse than Farrakahn when it come onto Jewish sentiments. And that was one of the reasons why the Jews them set up gainst Marcus Garvey fe get him out of America.

Roger Steffens and I are of the same complexion. And we have trouble with things that divide. . .

Well I have trouble with white people divide! (laughs!) Is white people divide the ting! (laughs)

Yea (laughing), but conscious white people fight against that all our lives. And it's troubling when I see Louis Farrakahn telling me that I am derived from some evil scientist.

Well, me no see that. Me no see that. You see what I say now, the Muslim doctrine and me don't work out, but me nah go throw him off. And there is so much thing me hear people say, and not everything me agree with.

Well, I respect him to the maximum for uniting black people in Washington several years ago. .

Nah everything Marcus Garvey say me agree with, but me nah cross off Marcus Garvey.

Of course, there's no human being, except for you maybe Haile Selassie, that you can agree with on everything.

True, true. But part of it now is that I cyaan inna a dis time now make white people decide for me who I must look upon.

I would never tell you that, but I had to ask the question.

Yea mon, me no have no feelings about it. Me just say is how me see it. We spend much time pon Farrakahn because Farrakahn say some tings is very important for black people hear inna Jamaica. Just like we play Malcolm X. We play Marcus Garvey. There is so much things we do with that program. We play some Buddhist priests or monks. 'Why Muta play dat ting deh?' Rastamon say that to me. Me a share Osho sentiments and all them ting deh, but Osho is a great mon.

I gotta go!

[I left Dera's house at 11:25 for an 11:40 train to the airport. I missed it. And missed my plane. It was worth it]

Copyright 1998 Carter Van Pelt

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