One question that I have been asked over and over again since releasing my first track off my forthcoming album is; why now?
I am aware that the last time I released a single, was 22 years ago. It was a cover of a Nina Simone song called Four Women. I have released songs since then, but not with the same amount of commitment. In fact, a fan, reached out recently looking for a version of a song I recorded when I used to flat with Cuba (owner of Bounce Records who released Nesian Mystik) in the early 2000s, a song that I had to admit, I had never heard. That is just how I rolled with my music and ability to write for other people’s tracks, remixes etc when I was a so-called full time musician.
The focus at the time, was on the creation of the music, the vibrations and frequency. Not money – which to be honest, was rare back then.
I have always had an understanding of my place with music. Not the industry, not the awards, not the recognition or the limelight. I make music for me. This is my expression. If people vibe with me, great, if not, I really don’t care. To care about other’s opinions of my creation, would be to submit to the fact that I care what ‘they’ think. No one has walked in my shoes, no one knows of the joy and pain my heart carries. This is what I express in my heart – now who thinks that they are qualified enough to make judgement on my music, for me?
In this fourth industrial revolution, where the populace are unfortunately educating themselves through social media, and online sources that are generally not credible. We have a new wave of ignorance, more dangerous prior to the internet being created and utilised by the world. Now everyone can be a doctor, lawyer and journalist. Spouting facts that they have found online, on Crack-Book, a video or worse a meme. All this ‘interconnectedness’ has proven to create more ill-informed people and behaviour. A tool (your device) that can be used to grow your knowledge base is instead, assisting people to become less empathic and more self-centred. Ironically these are two ‘qualities’ that most mainstream musicians need to survive in an industry that doesn’t actually value you as a human being, but expects you to sacrifice everything and everyone around you in order to be the leader of the pack. It has taken me 22 years to get over ‘it’ – I didn’t want to be at the front of the stage, I am more comfortable at the back.
The journey was not easy. I maintained a nine to five job for those 22 years. I ran a home studio and made music for television and corporate videos as I used to produce all my beats. I moved into television, at first in front of the camera then progressed to behind it. Spent 25 years doing that, made over 1400 half hour bilingual programmes and gained over 3000 production credits. I also dropped tracks for my rapping partner in life, and tour managed him from Glastonbury (189,000 people) to SXSW twice (largest Indie Music festival in the world) to Hua Hin Honda Festival in Thailand (300,000 people) and many more. Then took on event and tour management delivering free community events in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) drawing crowds of 2000+ to touring the Harlem Globetrotters through Aotearoa and Australia (first sell-out show for Margaret Arena in Melbourne), and Sesame Street’s Elmo’s World as well as Jamaican legends Third World and Grammy Award-winning artist JBOOG through the North Island (Aotearoa). I also set-up a screen printing store in our neighbourhood, managed a before mentioned rapping partner in life with tours to the UK, the USA, Australia, the Pacific and home. Oh, I also raised four boys into four good men.
So why now? Because the time is now. Nothing to do with Covid-19, nothing to do with 5G being released on an unsuspecting world. Far from the conspiracy theories and directly from the mouth of a public servant – I was told that when they started testing 5G in their city, if the antenna was set up near a tree, the birds in that tree were found dead below that tree and the tree would start to die within a week. I asked, so you are not rolling out 5G right? She responded, that they still rolled out 5G – because ‘this’ is about money not people. And ended our conversation with an ‘oh well’. Economic growth before people.
That is firsthand information, from local government, with that utilitarian attitude. What do you do?
You pick up your pen.
I actually never stopped writing, I just stopped releasing. I stopped being part of an industry that relied on you being vacant from your value-system, in fact ‘it’ tries to get you before you are able to develop the ability to handle a somewhat foreign environment with your own value system, turning a blind eye to what is really going on in the industry, who is controlling it, who makes the calls and when told to jump, you ask, how high massa? Yeah, that wasn’t me. And by the way, this happens in most industries.
I gave birth to my first child at 20, after I bought my first home. Having left home at 14, I developed my own value system over time. It wasn’t about good and evil, it was more of – what I could tolerate, and what I couldn’t. I didn’t always make the best decisions, but it was the right decision for me and my family, at the time.
As far as judging people – let me get specific. I don’t like vampires. Confrontation makes me wonder if that person needs a hug. I am a tree hugging hippy, and proud. Just do you, as long as you are not physically (emotionally and spiritually) hurting yourself or someone else – I am rather forgiving.
I am releasing music, ‘cos I can.