MUTABARUKA Ital Reggae Interview
1984 – ITALY
ITAL REGGAE Has your poetry always been political?
MUTABARUKA Politics is a word that is used to attract people. The poor people don’t know anything about politics, they can’t define communism as Marxism or capitalism. L :: people want food, they want clothes, they want a home. When you reach a certain level and start analyzing the situation then we talk about politics, but it is not reality. The reality is how to get clothes, food and a home and be okay with your conscience.
I don’t call mine poetry either politics. It’s just the echo of people’s voices, them shouting, but it appears through my words. For this reason the poems have always had a political connotation.
ITAL REGGAE Should all black artists deal with social and political realities or would they just use art to express themselves creatively?
MUTABARUKA The artist has to use art as an estrument, ças a weapon. It makes no sense to go to a cockta party and read poetry, it makes no sense to go to a painting exhibition and admire a painting that costs ten thousand dollars. We, the people, must use every means available to express and raise awareness of our efforts. ITAL REGGAE Which books or heroes inspired you?
MUTABARUKA The “Gleaner” (Jamaican cultural magazine), “Playboy”, the Bible and anything written. All books have a certain strength if you look into them … I read everything. Who inspired me? The people around me, the things we do and say every day is what drives me to write and continue. Seeing God in man, even if I don’t like to say man because many women feel bad about it. But God manifests himself in human beings and in. living creatures and this must be perceived to be inspired.
ITAL REGGAE See women on par with men?
MUTABARUKA Of course, because the sun rules the day and the moon rules the night, but both are part of the same day. The sun is most useful during the day and the moon during the night. No one would prefer the moon to appear during the day and the sun to appear at night, but they both serve a purpose and are therefore the same!
ITAL REGGAE In one of your poems you say “The system is an & -ode” what system are you talking about? MUTABARUKA Of each system, iJ: -sister.na-is. a fraud. Russia and America, communism, capitalism, as ideologies are not practical. Capitalism exists in America but it is not an institutional government. Communism-capitalism exists in Russia but a is not institutional … communism, capitalism, socialism, all this as it is, are just words to distract people’s attention from the real thing.
ITAL REGGAE What would you offer as an alternative?
MUTABARUKA I could not offer an alternative because the alternative is relative to the situation and environment in which each one finds himself. This means for example that as a Rasta I could not determine what a Chinese should do. As a poet I can show awareness and awaken conscience, but it is the people who have to find the solution. Nobody can ask me: “Now you have shown me the problem, what is the solution?” No, it doesn’t work like that. Politicians always told people where the problems were and then showed the solution but it never worked. I don’t need to show the solution to yours problem, it’s up to you, as an individual, as a family unit, as a group of people to find the solution. The poet shows the problem, nqn_ asking him to find the solution would be like comparing him to God.
ITAL REGGAE Although you don’t smoke weed, do you think it can be used for spiritual purposes? MUTABARUKA Let me tell the truth. A lot of people smoke weed before becoming dreadlocks. Weed is one thing that acts on you differently than cabbage or carrot. The habits of the people and humanity must look within to justify things. The justification is that the herb helps to raise the spiritual consciousness towards Jah … see, if I didn’t see Jah now here in this moment … but me and Jah we are not friends, Jah is one thing that a man should be able to see and recognize in himself first, instead of smoking weed instead of smoking weed then saying ok now I see Jah better and clearer. A lot of people think that all Rastas smoke weed and if you don’t smoke weed you can’t be a Rasta, because that’s the only way you see Jah. Smoking weed is nice because you feel good when you do it, but a man doesn’t have to use it as a crutch … because doing so doesn’t help any cause and has no effect on what he’s really putting on.
By Ras Morgan
Mutabaruka is one of the emblematic character, in Jamaica who knew, through the year, how to keep his presence and his Rastafari beliefs in front of the scene! This can be through the music that he spread, through his radio show on Irie FM, or even through his TV show ‘Simply MUTA’.
In this interview, done on Irie FM compound in Kingston, Mutabaruka talks about Rastafari and it’s spreading, but he also make a statement about the present Jamaica and it’s dancehall music culture. As usual he is not going around the corners to express his vision and understanding of what is taking place in this world!
When did you find yourself as a rasta?
Well, from my teenage.
Could you tell people what is Rastafari about? Rastafari is liberation, a black power movement, spiritual nucleous, started out as a resistance against imperialism and colonialism. The former slave were taught that England was the mother land, and Rastafari help to shape a consciousness into a liberation through Pan-Africanism. Evolve from Marcus Garvey to Leonard Howell who is the founder. It’s a liberation movement and a lot of people who find themselves in an oppressive state take on themselves that Rastafari is living, so you have people all over the world who can identify Rastafari.
How did Rastafari movement evolved from then to now?
It evolve through we have more informations, now we have other things that confront us inna this system ya, and through what we say, informations coming to us, so we can move and evolve from them time, 40’s, 50’s.
We fight for a recognition where Rasta was never recognized, them say we are fool and stupid, so we use a seculiar music Reggae music, to project Rastafari culture and philosophy, so even though we have no church, we use the music, we don’t have no school, we use the music and though we no have nowhere to go and learn about Rastafari, but through the the cultural expression, people gravitate toward it and recognize themselves in it. So we move to an international level where people all over the world gravitate toward Rastafari, so Rastafari mind set and consciousness lend itself to new ideas, new thinking, and what was inside of Jamaica is now, all over, seen and recognized as what they call a “new religion”, and we give the world a certain form of cultural expression that a lot of people in the western world never have I mean, like locks, locks is not unique to Rasta but Rasta help to shape that mind set into people so that people now locks and feel no way, even some people now locks and have no connection to Rastafari, but it coming through that evolution of Rastafari outhere, because there was a time in Jamaica when the only people who had locks were Rasta.
So we give Jamaica a brand, even though they try to go around it, because Rastafari is the Jamaica’s brand through the work of certain man like Bob Marley who allow people to come to Jamaica, and to look again to Jamaica, even though a lot try to shift out of it and don’t recognize it, but we rise and rise to a level to what we could call visibility so that nobody can now ignore! So we have a lot to project and we examine Africa, because when we were going to school, it was just “black people came here as slave” but we never did know nothing about Africa so we though that Africa start at slavery, but now everyone know that Africa much more older than Europe or any other places, Africa gave birth to mankind, Itiopia, even the Bible tell you that the River Nile coming from the garden of eden is running through Ithiopia.
Africa is the birth place and that is what Rastafari come to expose to the world now and we move to that information gathering! So Rasta tells the people about Africa, tell the people about food and what to eat, there was a time when they use to call us rabbit and mock we, but now a lot of people trying to become vegetarians because they see it valuable. Rasta during a time was the only man in Jamaica that don’t eat meet! So it’s e who came and show the people the livity about how to live and be healthy!
And when political party divide people over the years, it’s Rasta who came and give them a slogan, one love, one heart, to bring them together again and now that slogan is well recognized, it’s I and I, not me and you, because me and you are two people but I and I is one! You see there is no manifestation of life which is not of the one, the tree, the bird, the bee, they all are the manifestation of that same life! So Rasta tell them it’s I and I now! So when man connect to I and say Haile Selassie I, now some say, ”but Haile Selassie is a man”, yes and man is God, you see, we nah believe in a supernatural power who sit on the sky and come pon earth and and that you can see only when you die! What we say is that it is now, because when you dead, you dead; and nobody can tell you what happen to you when you dead!
So we have to make use of the life we have now, I mean if you can’t love when you are alive, who you gonna love when you dead? That is what Rastafari come to show and it still manifest the same thing His Majesty Selassie I. Africa, Africa for Africans, Itall livity, recognisation of I and I. So Rastafari don’t change!!
What do you think of the Jamaican music of today?
All right, you see, from the music change, from Reggae music to Dancehall, there is an element in dancehall that seem to step back instead of go forward! So where Rastafari did dominate the Reggae scene, Rastafari don’t dominate the Dancehall scene! So the consciousness that was reggae and the consciousness that allow people like you to come to Jamaica, is not necessarily in the dancehall, the dance hall is more a materialistic perspective of the Jamaican culture; and when Reggae offering something of liberation, the dancehall offering something of materialisation, materialism.
So now you have a hole heap of youth who are so misleaded, again the nearly of America, a lot of it come from the influence of America, where them divert the consciousness from Rastafari into the materialism of America so the influence of America is deeply embodied in the dancehall music, you can see it by the way the youth them dressed, the mannerism and even the beat, it’s not straight dancehall, it’s kind of hip hop dance hall fusing, nothing wrong with the fusion cause Jamaican music always mix from them time.
But now, the lyrics, which pushed Jamaica outside is not here anymore so people outside of Jamaica are very disappointed, Jamaican music was like a beam of hope and a light to the world. So when people reach a certain state of depressive, them could look to Jamaican reggae and feel uplifted and powerful, but now it more carry you down! So now, it’s mostly foreigners like African and Europeans who keep that Reggae beat, even if dance hall penetrated there, them still to hear the original roots music! Look, 30 years Bob Marley left and he still sound like a new artist, when you play Bob marley in a dance, him don’t sound like an old sound? But you see, you can hardly play old dance hall music, it comes like toilet paper and that why so muchof it come out one time. You see now, one artist have so much tune coming out at the same time, that as a radio DJ, I feel embarrass, I don’t know which one to play, and now, there is a follow thing that is happening, if one sing about money, everybody sing about money, if he sings about bad mind, everybody sing about bad mind.
Now it look like there is no experience,when the artist them were singing about a certain level of consciousness, and, a level of speech, experience of environment, well, the dancehall artist is going through his experience but he don’t think about that, he more think about how he’s gonna burst, and whatever make him burst, he will sing pon it! So there is a difference between Reggae and dancehall, beat different and we see some young youth that don’t know the value of Word Sound and Power, because what you say define you, so you don’t have to talk no foolishness. So now many people outside and inside of Jamaica are disappointed, but still you have youth that hold unto the real roots!
What would be your statement concerning Jamaica?
American thinking with a third world living! So you see people dress up out there, fashion clothes and thing, but when you see how them leave it needs more to be desired, cause they are so materialistic that they don’t think about their spirit, they think about their body, so many people out there are just like cimetary, scepulturs, where people put flowers upon the dead body! Nuff people look happy because a lot of party going on, but when they come from dance, go home and lock the door, it’s pure ignorance and vexation. Plus the two political parties has not been able to give the people what they want because they still maintain the euro centric system of governance. Look we have independence since 50 year and we still have a governor general that represent the Queen of England! They think that Jamaican, and rasta are a set of ignorant people and they try to hold we with a certain system and hold we under a certain order and discipline to satisfy the neo colonialism mentality!
You see the neo colonialism is well embodied in the political system of Jamaica! Even if 85 or 90% of the people in power are originated from Africa, none of them never go study to Africa, in order to develop a political system that can fit the people in them consciousness, but instead of that they go Europe and try to bring a democratical thing that don’t even work in England!Everyday we hear things a gwaan in England and still we a try to keep the same system pon a majority of people to are rebelious against that system, and them don’t know how to put it pon the people, so they use some oppressive ways,you can see it on TV, you can see it at church, because church is one of the most oppressive way them use, politique tell the people that if them behave good, they will have a good life, and pastor tell you that if you live good, you will a have a good death! So that is the tricks they use to them Christianity and democracy! so them set the thing in a circle, and nobody can show them nothing out of the circle and when you try, like Rasta do, they say you mad!So when you tell them to look to Africa, they say that “no you have to look something of the day”, but Marcus Garvey done tell them already “a tree without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots”! When they look to Africa they see sufferation and all thing, so they are afraid to look forward to it, but they have to understand that Africa is a continent composed of 53 countries,and that not so long ago, Europe was devastated by war and killed one another! Every continent have their time! But now them corrupt everywhere with them politics, but still you have people that wake up because people don’t have no trust in this political system! So I don’t know but Jamaica is in a position that it need someone to rock the boat so that we not going to make the same mistake again and again! So now when Rasta use to say they don’t mix with politic, now you have Rasta who start create their own political parties because that is a necessity! Like now you have Rasta that teach at school when our children could not go school! So the change is here with the silent revolution, cause it’s not with bomb and gun but through culture! So them embarrass because Rasta don’t have no leader so them don’t know who to kill to stop it! Rastafari Haile Selassie I is our leader and them say he’s dead so them can kill him again to stop this revolution!
What vision would you have for Jamaica?
Well, I don’t have really no vision, all I could say is Rastafari and Marcus Garvey!
What is your favorite reggae song?
Well it’s not one, Babylon System of Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, the Black Heart Man, Babylon Burning of Bob Andy, She’s Royal by Taurus Riley… Nuff of them.
Do you still tour?
Yeah man, during the Olympic I will be in England for 12 nights of reggae, I will tour in Europe too in August, I was in Austria last December! so we still tour, not as often as before but we here pon the road!
Mutabaraka interview part I: Gathering of the Spirits
by Carter Van Pelt
The interview was recorded April 3, 1998, Washington, D of C. by Carter Van Pelt. It is the first segment of two hours of interview done on April 3 and April 5, 1998. The first segment deals with Muta’s new production, Gathering of the Spirits, to be released by Shanachie Entertainment in June 1998. Further transcriptions will be posted as they are available.
First subject I want to talk about is the new album that you have produced. What caused you to decide to produce a full album of old school reggae artists?
Well, the album come about between Randall from Shanachie and myself. Doing the things that made reggae what reggae is about and doing it live rather than with machine. It was my intention all along, knowing that most of albums is done with live musicians. To really carry musicians in the studio from the old school and select music that I liked over the years and ask artists to do them.
How often is a full live studio production done in Jamaica anymore?
You hardly see it. As a matter of fact the studio are not built again to hold drumsets. You hardly find a studio that is built now to hold a drumset. So, as a matter of fact, we had a problem with getting a drumset in the studio that we used. We had to go to a next studio.
Where all did you record?
We recorded at the (Gussie Clarke’s) Music Works on Windsor Avenue. The first drummer I approach was Horsemouth. Horsemouth had a drumset. Sly had a drumset, but it was very difficult to locate a good drumset to carry to the studio, and I wanted to use an acoustic drumset, not really none of those synthesized [sets (Syndrums)]. So, we had to move the drumset from one studio to the next studio, then we had a problem now of there are a lot of engineers, they don’t know how to set up an acoustic drumset. So we had to get a person who knew it to do it. And it weird, knowing that Jamaica is a place where reggae music come from. To go through all that fe make an album, a normal album, cause I consider that a normal album, but it wasn’t normal, considering what is taking place in Jamaica now with the music.
They must have had to go through the same kinds of troubles to record Ernie Smith’s album (After 30 Years, Life Is Just For Living).
Yea, yea. Well, most of the music that is coming out now . . . all they have in the studio is a keyboard player, and the keyboard player play everything that is necessary on the record. The thing about this session that was so meaningful was that all of these people met in the studio for years. I remember the first night when we went into the studio. . . What was so great about that session was that so much musicians met in the studio that never see each other for a long time, especially in the studio. For one night, we had Sly & Robbie, Leroy Sibbles, who you know is an original Studio One bass player. He produced such bass lines as “Satta Massa Ganna” and dem riddim. You had Chinna Smith, Dean Fraser, Mystic Revelation of Rastafari. Everybody congregated in the same studio at the same time, like a party to see so much musicians who did carry the music to where it is now. You hardly get that right now in Jamaica. That alone to me was very heart warming to see that taking place. We had Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt. We brought in Justin Hinds, a long time stalwart. We had, later on, we had Culture. Culture, Big Youth. Big Youth is old style. One of the most fascinating ones was the Diamonds. We gave Diamonds a tune to do that Alton Ellis did years ago, “Black Man Pride.” The harmony that came out of them that night was something else, cause most of the tunes that we hear the Diamonds sing now, and I must say, it don’t carry that harmony that they used to when they did “Right Time” and “Mercy” and those tunes. This tune shows that they have that there, is just that the producer . . . they need to get a producer who can bring that out of the artists dem and musicians.
You really made them feel the vibes.
Yes. I think what is lacking now-a-days is the production. The artists are out there. It’s just that the people who call themselves producers is not in the studio with them. A lot of people say they are producing records, but they just leave it to the musicians to just do what they doing and then they come out of the studio. But I was there. I mean I don’t leave anything to anything. I am the producer, and I take part in the arrangement and need to hear. I handle it like my album. The beauty is that I am also an artist, and I know what I want to hear and I wouldn’t settle for anything less fe a next artist. So being the producer of my albums, it was very important to me to see that quality and the standard live in the music.
You must have put it together over a very short span of time. It sounds like one evening you did a lot of these tracks from what you’re saying. . .
No, this album has been done over one and a half years. . .
Oh. You were talking about the first night you spent in the studio? . . .
The first night we did two tunes. The first night two songs was laid. I think the first one we lay down was the Diamonds and Justin Hinds. Then several weeks after . . . you see, it’s weird to get artists like those to go to the studio with an artist like me is very difficult, because when I am touring they are in Jamaica. When I am in Jamaica they are touring. Everybody have to be caught at the right time. That is why it really take over a period a year, nearly two years to do. I remember Marcia Griffiths, I started to do Marcia Griffiths, this demo track that she did. I was in Jamaica and just when I book the studio time she left and I say alright I’m gonna catch her when she come. I call her house and I hear she coming back the next day and that was the time when I was leaving. So I went to Europe for like a month and come back and she wasn’t in Jamaica. So it keep going like that, but I guess it’s a matter of patience. You need to do this thing the right way and you’re not going to settle for less.
Culture is a next one. I remember when I ask Culture fe do this and him say yes, and I say alright I’m gonna go book the studio time. Lickle more I hear that him was in Africa. And we buck up in Kennedy Airport and I say, ‘we a go book de studio time,’ and him say yes and by the time I go down I haffe go way again. I buck up him in JFK Airport a come from Ghana and I say I go book them studio and him say yes. When I reach Jamaica again. Is like I did haffe leave. So it keep draggin out draggin out pon a level deh, but eventually it came together.
Some of the tracks that stuck out in my mind. . . My first reaction was that the Justin Hinds track was very strong.
Yes. “Sitting In Babylon.” I play the funde on that tune. That was Leroy Sibbles on bass. I think it was Leroy on bass. That’s a good song. I tell you now. It the weirdest thing. I tell you how I get him on it. I want him to come on the album, and I say how I gwan’g go find dis mon. Nobody know where to find him. And through the radio program that I have (The Cutting Edge — IRIE-FM), I put the sound out. I say bwai, “Justin Hinds get in touch with Mutabaruka urgently.” About a week after, I get a message in a shop inna Ocho Rios that him came there and I say yea, and make that hook up. It was good fe have him inna de studio, cause a whole heap a mon never see him yet. Man inna de studio never see him yet. The weirdest thing too is that nuff people never see Sly play drum. Nuff youth. That was a unique thing that’s true, because I remember one of the engineer youth say, ‘bwai you know me always hear about Sly ya know Rasta, but me never see him play live drum yet.’ Because Sly dere at the studio a whole heap of time with these youth engineer, and them never actually see him a play the drum, yet say them a hear that him is a drum legend. So that was something else fe them too . . . fe actually see Sly roll a drumset up and play drum.
Joseph Hill even said recently that Sly forgot how to play drums, cause he’d bring Dub Mystic down to record those Culture albums at the Mixing Lab and not even have Sly at the kit.
Him play it still. If you listen to the thing, him wicked.
He plays on all the tracks . . . no, Horsemouth . . .
Horsemouth play on two tracks, (Sly) play on the rest.
Do you remember which?
Alright, Sly play on Judy Mowatt track, Marcia Griffiths’ tracks. He played on Hortense Ellis track. . . Pablo Moses, him play on Culture (& Big Youth). Desi Jones played on my track. Desi Jones was formerly with the Chalice. Him have him own band now, Skool. And then Horsemouth play on the rest (Diamonds, Justin Hinds).
Leroy Sibbles . . .
Leroy Sibbles play bass on two tracks, and Robbie played on the rest. Alton Ellis sung that tune “Black Man Pride” years ago, and when I called Horsemouth and Leroy Sibbles in the studio to play and I say this is the tune me a want them sing over, and I hear Leroy say, ‘but a no me play dat tune deh. . .’ And Horsey say, ‘Yea mon! A we play dat tune deh!’ So is like me say ‘wha!’ Same tune mon dem come back again, come fe play back the same tune after most of twenty-five, thirty years. So that was nice too. That was nice.
That’s a classic. That horn line. That song has come again so many times.
Yea, yea mon.
How about the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari. What productivity has there been from them since Count Ossie time . . .
They are more into community work in Warika Hill. They have school going there and thing. The musical part of them is not out there as much. The other day I was in Paris and I heard that the Mystic Revelation was inna next part of France. The same day I was playing, they was playing, but they haven’t been doing any recordings for a very long time. Because some more involve in community work, but that also again was a treat to have the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari in the studio and Dean (Fraser) is featured with Chinna. If you listen to the tune, there is two guitars playing, the acoustic and electric guitar. That was Chinna’s lead and Dean. This is an original tune by Earl Kluge. I selected that tune cause I listen to the original and I say it’s slightly reggae. I said, wow, this would be wicked if the Mystic Revelation a play it. And then we draw on Dean Fraser, even though the original didn’t have a horn in it, but I said it would be nice if Dean blow sax inna it with Chinna, and it came out that way.
Well, that’s the producer’s role is to see the finished product and get the right people. I’m curious about the Ernest Ranglin version of “Iron Lion Zion.”
Alright, that was not produced by me. That is the only tune on it that I didn’t produce.
Okay, why did you pick that track.
Alright. I wanted Ernie Ranglin and I wanted Augustus Pablo on it. I approach Augustus Pablo originally. Again this is a next thing of me coming in and him going out. Then I was listening to a CD. Brand new CD. I don’t think it reach here, get marketed here. Is a company in Jamaica name Kariang.
The Mystic Revealers label?
Mystic Revealers, they are in Ocho Rios. I got the CD, Tribute To Bob Marley by Ernie Ranglin. Is a new CD put out by them. So I was going through the CD and I say, yea, you know. I was (in Cannes) at MIDEM, not this year, but the year before. Him was there, and I check Ernie Ranglin and say bwai, I produce this album, and I would love you play pon it. Him say I would haffe check Island. When I came down, I try fe get through to Island, but them still never make the connection. There was two people who was producing Ernie Ranglin outside of Island. There was the owner of IRIE-FM, Mr. Carl Young, and Kariang. So I was listening to this new album, Tribute To Bob, and there was two tracks on it that struck me, “Iron Lion” and “Screw Face,” I don’t remember the next track. And I say, bwai, you know, “Iron Lion,” I really go fe dis one. So I went to them and I license it from them. But what was happening now. They used machine, drum machine, and that wasn’t good for me, so I say I would pay for a drummer to go back in the studio and mix it over. So I had to go back in the studio with the tune and take off the drum machine and put a live drummer and mix it over. What you’re hearing now is not what you would hear on the (original) album. The (original) is a drum machine.
I thought Island Jamaica may have put that Ernest Ranglin album out. No. This album is an album Tribute To Bob.
I thought I knew about that track. That’s why I had to ask you. He also made it over the remix version of it. The rhythm is not the original.
Tell me about getting Hortense Ellis. . .
Wow. Well, I am trying to . . . I hope I can get this track to be release as a single in England, because to me personally, I think that it is a good lover’s rock, English type of tune. Alright. You know over the years Hortense Ellis is there. About twelve years ago Hortense Ellis came, just appear to me inna me shop, and sey bwai Muta, me wan sing dis and me wan sing dat, and me say, yea mon, me try a ting. They had this sistren concert every year. Me ask dem why dem never put Hortense Ellis pon it. So they put Hortense Ellis on it and that ushered in the return of Hortense Ellis. She not getting a much recognition now as she suppose to. She went on a show the other day, an oldies show and she tear down the place. She wreck the place. Anyway, we keep in contact. Me is a mon who couldn’t really do an album that didn’t have no woman pon it. Me couldn’t dweet.
It would be inconsistent with your philosophy.
Yea, so I say, bwai, Marcia Griffiths nice, Judy Mowatt nice, everybody know them, but Hortense Ellis now. I need fe go for Hortense Ellis. So I go for Hortense Ellis and I say Hortense watch me now, me have an album fe make and me wan ya a come pon it. She say yea Muta, anyting fi you. She just nice, ya know? So I say bring up a tune come show me and ting. So she bring this song come see me sey Hortense this ting nah soun . . we haffe fix dis ting right. So we sit down a deh studio and fix de tune.
The same tune as on the album?
Yea. We fix the tune and lay the track and it never work out, because something, I don’t remember. She haffe come back, come dweet. I think she did have cold. Yea, she did have cold. Me say bwai Hortense, de track deh, it nah sound proper. We haffe come back, and she did it. It remind me of . . . Hortense Ellis. It remind me of Hortense Ellis, Rasta, to the point now where I a go try influence Shanachie if I could produce a Hortense Ellis album, like ‘Hortense Ellis sings the greats.’ I think it would be good, plus, she need fe dweet, cause she is one of the stalwarts in the music industry that has not been recognized over the years and she have the voice. And I feel that eventually it would be done. I think it would be done. I like that track. I like that track to the point where I kinda spend much time pon it. I brought in Pam Hall to do the harmonies. I sat with Ibo (Cooper) fe put some lickle flavors. He play most of the keyboards on the songs them. And Robbie Lyn plays also. I got him to kind of flavor it up and ting. I think it’s a nice song. I think they should release it in England. Because if it could be released in England that would kinda open a way for her also in this modern time.
Do you deal with Greensleeves over there?
Shanachie deals with them. I don’t license album. I just give it to Shanachie and Shanachie do what they want to do with it.
Is the Big Youth track on the same rhythm as the Culture track?
Yes, yes, yea. We went to the studio and I go for Big Youth and I say Big Youth, bwai, ya haffe do dis ting. He listen to the track them and that was the track. As a matter of fact there is two tune that Big Youth do on that same track. I don’t know which one them give you but. . . he was talking about ‘Jesus is a condition.’ (laughs). The condition, yea. (laughs). He had a next one on it, the same riddim. He got into the groove so much that he decided that he would give me two tune pon de same track so dat is a ting. We gwan look see if we can mix it with Culture voice and get a next tune out of it.
I was going to say you ought to put it on a 12 inch.
No, we don’t want to do them that way, because we actually never signed with the artist them fe do 45s. I mean Tabby did want, Tabby dem say ‘dat tune a deh wicked pon a 45,’ but we never really tink pon it dahweh deh, but I definitely know Hortense Ellis. I’d love (to) hear Hortense Ellis (on a single). Not only for the tune but fe she. Fe she personally, as a tune I think could open up something for her in England.
I think you’re right, cause you can really hear it, when somebody’s voice can maintain.
She maintain her voice mon. In all a de stress and struggle, she maintain it. It’s beautiful, you know?
Yea, certain singers I’ve heard over the years . . . I think Justin Hinds is another one . . .
Yea, Justin Hinds keep him voice. Yea mon, Justin Hinds is there. Consistently.
How about getting Pablo Moses. He’s somebody who had a great flash and then we didn’t hear from him.
Alright, Pablo Moses now. We was going on and on and on and Pablo Moses came up and I said, yea, why not. Pablo Moses there over the years, so we went to him and him say yes. I don’t know, but I get the feeling . . . but it feel good to know that all of these artists, I could just go to them and just say come pon me album and them say yes without any hesitation fe say, ‘well, me nah go . . .’ dem we deh. I know is not everybody them artists would really record and actually allow the tune for produce it. So when I see them do that with me, I say yea, it look like Muta have some lickle clout deh someweh throughout the place. (laughs)
Please . . . (Laughs). Well, I never take anything for granted! When I see say, I get dem man ya haffe come inna de studio. Sly and Robbie and Robbie Lyn. And I look inna de studio and I see the studio full up, and I say them ting a de studio come like old time studio business. Culture, we spend a long time pon Culture tune. Culture record it and dem go it over and come again and dweet and yea, it was nice.
First time, probably that Joseph Hill. . . Well, it’s been a long time since he’s played with Sly and Robbie and definitely with a live drum track by Sly, probably since the 70s. The old school Culture fans will go crazy for that.
(Laughs) Yea! yea. The time and effort I put in this album, as I say, is liking making one of my album dem. Over the years my albums have been very musical. I listen to so much music, and me try to integrate the different influences base up offa what. . . When I do this album, I say, bwai I wan create an album weh people who left reggae and get frustrated and a say, ‘bwai reggae nah gwan wit nuttin now,’ can see something brand new. And not just taking different tracks from different albums and putting it together and make a compilation. Cause that is what is really taking place now. People take different tracks from old albums and then put it together and make a compilation. I say, if would could a make an album now with the old musicians, new music with old musicians, that the people who get frustrated with the music can say, ‘but wait, them thing a still dem out.’ And then the new people them can say but this is a new album and hear the man dem who did make it from a longer time still sing it how it supposed to do. With a producer like me. It’s not the first I produce an album that is not mind, but make this one, is like a baby. Is like I feel like I did something. It’s important.
It’s important. You’ve really touched on something, cause people who came into reggae and really started to feel it, then got pushed away, because reggae has got that heartbeat, that live human touch.
And now it’s not human again.
I don’t know if it was. . . I always look to Jammy’s and Sleng Teng and that whole time, but that took the human touch out of the music.
Is a combination of the human touch and the human spirit. Because the music is no longer of the spirit again. It’s more of the physical. Because it’s not of the spirit again, the music itself is not of the spirit again, it’s machine. When the music was in the spirit, there was musicians playing it, what was being said was spiritual. Now we all see the trend moving and we can see everything change to mechanical. And that is what a lot of people feel that reggae, the reason why they gravitate towards reggae was because of the human spirit. And now that the human spirit is there no more, they get frustrated and they find something else to listen to. So we try and we hope that when people listen to this album they will see a humanness in it, not just from the producer and the artist, but the music itself. Because my thing is musical, even though I am a poet. But when I am dealing with singer. I haffe look pon de music. When I’m a poet, I look pon it as what I am saying, the words. And when I choose, like I chose the “Blackman Pride” tune because it meant a lot to me when I was young. I chose Judy Mowatt tune, “Someday We’ll All Be Free” is a tune that was sung by Danny Hathaway years ago, and that song to me represent a certain kind of freedom that black people search for. ‘Hang on to your dreams and take it from me, someday we’ll all be free.’ So when I listen to the tune, I say, is years I say ‘why an artist cyan sing over this tune? Why a reggae artist wouldn’t sing over dis tune yah, right and proper way.’ When I listen to it over and over I say, we haffe get Judy fe sing dis tune yah. And “Woman of the Ghetto” is a next tune that stuck inna mi mind from a school days. Marlene Shaw was the singer of that song over the years.
I don’t know that name.
Well, that was the hit. That from in the early 70s. It was a big hit.
What studio or label did that come off of?
I don’t remember, but I know is Marlene Shaw sang it. Then we have . . . the Mystic Revelation tune. Listening to Earl Kluge jazz, it would be nice if you have the Rasta vibes with the acoustics. I choose Ernie Ranglin tune, but is not my production. My song, “What About The Land” is really keeping within the context of my evaluation of what is taking place right now amongst indigenous people. Especially the other day. We been to Australia for the first time, and when we look on what is taking place in Australia amongst the Aborigines, we feel that as a spoken word person, it was my duty to express something about it and link it with the indigenous people of America which we have been speaking about for years. Since the first time we come to America we have been writing poems about that. Plus the Africans, plus the Amazon people. So that poem is combination of feelings and attitude that we pick up over the years with all these indigenous things that is taking place. We just get the music to suit it.
I know you’ve long had that link in your tunes, “Big Mountain,” etc.
That song [“What About The Land”] was like a schizophrenic song in that the voices, how it was voiced, it’s three different voices and the lines that sound like I am reading in my normal voice, it’s from Chief Seattle. It’s his words. When he’s talking about, ‘if I sell you my land, you must treat it like the rivers . . .
“Every mist in the dark woods . . . every sap which courses through the trees . . .”
Yea, Chief Seattle words. He was talking about . . . I don’t remember if it’s Custer or one of these guys he was talking about selling land and he was telling them. . .
We don’t own the land . . .
Yea, we don’t own the land. It was Chief Seattle words. When this album come out, we want the people to know that, because I’ve never really heard any reggae artist take up the struggle of the indigenous people in this country and express it in that way. We feel that as a poet who is looking on the wider picture of liberation for indigenous people, it was important to include Chief Seattle’s words in it.
And the indigenous people so identify with the Jamaican struggle too.
Yes, is the same struggle.
Did you go to the Havasupai land?
Yea. I’ve been there.
What did you come away with from that?
Before that, you’re talking about TV. Watching the TV cause me to really get this way about it. Because when me look pon the TV we see is the same perception . . .
The way they portray people . . . .
The way they portray it, yea. Then now we started to tour and we started to go amongst the Hopi and the Navajo and we went to San Francisco and Seattle and all these places. We start to meet indigenous people, and we start to feel more in that struggle.
Where I live, they were run out of there terrible, Pawnee, Lakota people. That’s good to lift that consciousness, cause I think sometimes if you can raise people’s consciousness about the African struggle, they don’t even realize that they’re living right next to these people who’ve been . . .
Yea. In this song, there’s something, you’re referring to ‘Turtle Island.’?
Turtle Island is America. That’s what the native Americans call Turtle Island. ‘What about Turtle Island?’
How widespread is that?
I don’t know. I just get it from them. I hear they refer to America as Turtle Island.
What people? All over?
Yea. Most of the native Americans call it Turtle Island. We’ve been amongst quite a few native Americans and we hear them refer to it. It’s not the first time I used that term, me have a poem on an album Any Which Way Freedom called “Big Mountain” and we mention Turtle Island in it too.
. . .I understand you were originally going to call the album Gathering of the Tribes, but it may now be Gathering of the Spirits.
Yea, the tribe thing now. Is not I was suggesting that is Randall (Grass). (laughs). Is Randall was suggesting it. Is Randall suggest the tribe business, but you see we not into the tribe thing. The tribe is what you call marginalization of people. We’re not into the tribe thing.
Yea, when I hear it, I said, ‘no way!’ We’re not into that, tribe business.
So, Gathering of the Spirits.
Yea, that sound more acceptable to me.
The Ultimate Interview, part II (April 3, 1998)
Back to the concept of live production and that whole sound. Somebody attributed you and your radio show to really turning the consciousness in the music. After the time that Garnett Silk passed away and Luciano started to come along, not only did that machine sound . . . even though they were still using machine production, started to fade out of the music. And I feel like [some] of the stuff the comes out of Jamaica [now], even though it’s programmed, has a more human touch to it. Do you perceive that or is that a bunch of . . . Like some of Fatis’ rhythms?
Well, the only live thing I see happening is with the musicians who used to record for years, but the tunes that are hitting is machine — the hit songs, the Beenie Man songs, and dis and dat, Scare Dem Crew songs is machine. I feel that it is going to go back. It’s going to return to the live musicians. I feel that way.
Is that feasible, economically?
Yea mon, yea mon, it’s feasible of course. It’s the best thing that can be done to the music now. I tell you what is happening now in Europe. The old rhythms is what is selling. And they are mixing it again in dub style. And then now you have ska. Ska is prominent again. Dub music is prominent again. And is not new music. Is the same old rhythms used and you go back with the engineer, and you recast it. It’s almost like a sequel to an original track. So it going to return to that. It going to haffe return to that, because we’re talking about man . . . and the humanness in man, with music. Music cannot be just machine. I can see where the music will return to that level. It’s all about the culture of a people and the expression of those people in them culture. Remember that when the men them did start, them never did a ting pon a money ting. Them was just thinking of expressing a culture. And eventually it going to become the expression of culture again. Cause when the big record companies start to drop everybody left and right, man going to realize, say, them cyaan just a sing tune fe suit CBS and Epic and them ting. Them haffe sing songs out of them experience. And then it going to lead back now to what it is all about. What it is all about is reggae music.
So do you have any plans to take someone like Luciano or Everton Blender or somebody who has a real youth pull and then put them on some of these kinds of real rhythms? I don’t know if I a produce it as a producer. Dis ting yah as a producer now . . . No, I don’t have no plans fe do dat, but if it come, I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t dweet, but I don’t have no plans. Me and Luciano supposed to go back in the studio and do “Psalms 23.” We do “Psalms 24,” and it was big. So I plan fe do “Psalms 23” with a different vibes to it. Not like how it is written. Like how you hear Bobby McFerrin sing, ‘the Lord is my sheppard, I shall not want. SHE made me to lie down in green pastures. SHE lead me beside still waters.’ Well is something like that, but is not basically the same thing, but we plan to dweet. We talk to Fatis already, and is just a matter again fe link (laughs) inna Jamaica. Meanwhile, when I’m am dere, he is out here. When I am out here , he is there. I think that is me next tune, “Psalms 23.”
Very good . . .
We just did a tune you know. Me just remember. Ini Kamoze just produce a tune, three tracks. Him, Sizzla, me. Separate, but the same rhythm, so I guess that soon come out.
I wanted to go back again, talking about musicians, early on I associated you with, did Chinna produce your first album?
First album, yes.
And also, Gibby (Leebert Morrison). You had a lot of involvement with those two guitarists.
Yea, alright, Chinna was there with me from the beginning. When I didn’t know nothing about music, I was just writing poetry. Chinna is a musician. So how you going to put poetry to music in Jamaica now? Chinna, me. I say the poems, Chinna listen to what I am saying, him fashion the riddims around it. So Chinna did this first album. I started to produce me own album. Chinna have his own company doing other things, so we get Gibby. Gibby now has been with me over the years. He has been involved with a lot of the arrangements that is in the albums coming right up.
What do you think about his rock and roll band?
Alternate . . . yea, ‘alternate,’ they’re called. Well, it’s just Gibby expressing himself. Gibby is a lover of Jimi Hendrix and these people. He likes that kind of guitar. Is just rock guitar and reggae. Is just a next way fe play. De reggae music can be incorporated in all different kind of music. So it’s just rock guitar . . . is just Gibby a play rock guitar inna reggae music. I guess the die-hearted reggae fans will say, ‘wha! Me no like dat,’ but is just a next aspect of the music still.
But it’s worked for so many bands all over the world . . .
I don’t have no problem with it. I don’t like rock music, but I don’t have no problem with Gibby, cause him used to play it inna my tunes dem. We deh pon stage inna Europe, and we have poems like “Ecology,” “Famine Injection” and dem poems, and [I] give him solo . . . As a matter a fact we’re going to come for a rock concert yah so is Gibby a play.
You’re going to join him?
No, he’s going to join me. Yea, we’re coming to do this concert inna RFK Stadium deh weh Tibetian thing that the Beastie Boys them do every year. So we’re going to do that and we’re bringing Gibby.
Tell me about, somebody I never knew about until I went to Jamaica was Louise Bennett, Miss Lou. you even sang a song about her on your last album? Miss Lou is the keeper of the folk tradition through poetry and songs in Jamaica. Miss Lou is the one who maintain the language of the people in the artistic expression of the people. When people was looking at the Jamaican language as dirty, terrible, Miss Lou used it in the artistic expression to express the feelings and the attitudes of the people. She is rightly where she is. She is a hero to a lot of people. She is one of the women who has kept the African-ness inside of the Jamaican culture and express it through song and poetry. Right now she lives in Canada. You see through we don’t worship dead people, now, we say we haffe do a tribute to Miss Lou before any ‘pass away’ business. So that poem was done years ago. As a matter of fact, we carry Miss Lou to the studio years ago too, to do two reggae tune. This is the first time she ever say a poem on reggae. She used to do it with like the folk music. There is an album name Woman Talk that we produce years ago with female poets. I did it for Heartbeat. That was my second album I produce without it being my album. Well, this album had two tracks on it by Miss Louise Bennett. And she was doing it to reggae, and it was great. And we did that tune “Miss Lou” [on Melanin Man] from the “Peanut Vendor” melody.
Right, the original “Peanut Vendor.” I heard it described that she made people proud of the way they speak.
Yea mon, that is what I am saying. She used the language of the people as an artistic expression. That wasn’t ever done in Jamaica. We were more English, British, trying to imitate Keats and Shakespeare and ting. She went on the stage 50-odd years ago and talk patois, talked the Jamaican language. And that was not acceptable. Is like you say ‘raas clot.’ ‘Raas clot’ is not acceptable. The Jamaican language was like you’re saying ‘raas clot’ or ‘bumboclot.’
Just the whole of it?
Yea, the language itself. To speak like a Jamaican was not accepted in the Jamaican society. It was not accepted. You were either uneducated or you was just [considered] stupid to speak that way. Well Miss Lou used that language and make it become something of a gem in the Jamaican society, through her art form.
Yea, she really broke the colonial mentality . . .
Yea man, she brake that terrible.
Let me pause here for a second and look at my notes . . . . . .
Some people ask stupid questions, like ‘how old you is, and how long you start do dub poetry, and why you walk barefoot.’ Dem question deh some lickle cliché question, and I start get annoyed.
I haven’t asked you any of those yet have I?
(Laughs) No no, that is I tell you say, dem question I get annoyed, ‘how long you walking barefoot, why you don’t wear shoes?’ Dem kinda ting deh . . .
I know why you do that . . .
Yea, well, some people feel them know but is another ting that. Yea.
One question I wrote down today . . . you’re very analytical in the way you look at the world. You have a very analytical mind, a very Africentric view of the world, but obviously that had to come into you at some point in your life. Was there a critical moment or a time period that you were in touch with some kind of influence that shaped your Africentric consciousness?
Yea mon, when we going to school, the teacher them that we have round we was Africentric, but them never used to teach we. But we used to gather with them, like Marcus Garvey son.
Marcus Garvey’s son?!
Yea, Marcus Garvey son used to teach at Kingston Technical where I used to go. And you did have some others who is around now. I remember one bredren name Makow(?), him never used to teach, but him used to be around.
When you’re talking about technical school. . .
Kingston Technical, [I was age] . . 15, 16, yea.
A trade school?
It was a school, but is a technical school where they do the physical things. It’s an ordinary high school but they have like woodwork, and the electrical . . . Vocational.
Yea, so these people was there. Locksley Comrie, I remember him. They used to have the Malcolm X albums and the Autobiography of Malcolm X. All of these things helped fe shape my consciousness plus we used to gather with Marcus Garvey Junior, with Amy [Jaques] Garvey, which is Marcus Garvey wife up at her house, and we used to just read books. We used to just read a whole heap of books and draw off a conclusion. And we start to read and is years after [that] we start to travel. The consciousness that we had carry through until we start to travel, and we start to see more of what we was thinking. Is like you have the theory in Jamaica and then you come [off the island]. We’ve been to so much place, we see so much things. And it help fe shape we consciousness again, because we believe in change, and we don’t afraid of change. Maybe the first time we used to think seh change is something weird, but now we would see, and we understand more clearly what things is all about, but we still maintain that African-ness — that liberation perspective. That consciousness fe tell we seh, yea is Haile Selassie and the consciousness of Haile Selassie that bring we to here, and we have to even reshape it to suit and to elevate other people’s consciousness too. So that is why even the radio program [The Cutting Edge, IRIE-FM, Ocho Rios] in Jamaica is so important. That we can now express what we used to say mongst weself to the wider public. This is the first time Rasta going to be on Jamaican radio that length of time.
When did you go on the air?
Five years ago we started the program. Now we have five hours, four hours, every Tuesday night to express anything that we want to express. That, as you say, rightly, that has helped to reshape a lot of the thinking and influence a whole heap of ones now fe get a clearer understanding of what Rasta was saying all along and what Rastafari is all about.
What do you mean by the Selassie consciousness?
Well, Rasta is saying Haile Selassie I. We nah come off of that. The consciousness meaning that what Haile Selassie did when he was Ras Tafari and what he has done being the Emperor of Ethiopia, we have seen him shaping Africa. And we can look on what he has done as Rastas and see a certain Christ-ness that is what we are searching for. Not as we were taught it, because first of all, to really understand what the Rastaman is saying about Haile Selassie, you haffe go move Jesus out of your mind. This idea, this Jesus concept that was given to us by Rome. You have to totally wipe it out and this God mentality, this God-conciousness. You have to move that out now and reshape it. You have to look within man not in the sky. And I think that is what a whole heap of Jamaicans find difficult. That when the Rastaman say Haile Selassie, he is trying to put what he sees in his mind about God with what we is talking about this Man. And not knowing that what he sees in his mind is what is in man. There is no other concept outside of man. Is man make God. If there was no man, there wouldn’t be any concept of God. So you have to look within man to find the reality of life and what life really mean. So when man is him good, him say is God, and when man is him bad, him say is the devil, but is really man still. So all concepts of good and bad is coming from man is emanate from man.
from I&I . . .
Yea, so when the Rastaman says Haile Selassie, because man cannot see man as the Supreme Being. Him trying to look outside of himself fe that consciousness. And the Rastaman is saying, no, that consciousness is here.
Wasn’t also just the image of a Blackman as a King, a crucial thing?
Yea, is the connection with history. Haile Selassie is the connection is the Blackman’s connection with the past and now.
The line of Solomon you’re talking about?
No, even before that, we’re not limiting. You see, we’re not now limiting Selassie to the dynasty of Solomon and Sheba, because the dynasty of Ethiopia existed long before Queen of Sheeba went to Solomon, seen? There was an Ethiopian dynasty before Israel, seen? What we talking about now is long before Solomon and Sheba. We saying now that Haile Selassie can trace him genealogy three-thousand years before Solomon and Sheba. That is what Haile Selassie say. There was Emperors is Ethiopia before Abraham, before Adam and Eve. So we talking now about the link with our past and our now. And you can choose anybody in Africa fe deal with this, but when we look and we see without any disconnection, we see Haile Selassie a carry that connection with the past and with now. And what we see Haile Selassie do in his time here, is more than what them say Jesus do. So we still say Haile Selassie, but we move Haile Selassie above Jesus and God and all these concepts that has been put into us by Western philosophy and Western ideologies. Cause Western philosophy don’t give you the feeling that you can be connected with the supreme. It make you feel like God is an object.
And [like] it’s unattainable, short of the impossible . . .
It’s possible. So now the Rastaman a say, this nah impossible, because him a show you a man like yourself, and that is very hard to swallow with the concept of the Western world. That ‘how can you say a man like yourself is a supreme being? That is unheard of.’ The Rastaman a seh, but is only man can be a supreme being, cause is only man can rule man. And is only man can attain that consciousness that man search for in God, because God cannot exist without man. If there is no man, there is no God. If there is no God, there is no devil. If there is a devil, there is a God. The two of them is just the flip side of the same coin.
So you don’t see anything beyond, if circumstances came about that all life was wiped off the face of the Earth, there’s no consciousness beyond man?
All life cyaan wipe off the face of the Earth. That is man imagination. The Earth was always here and the Earth will always be here, whether it is in the form of man life, woman life, animal life, but there was never a time when there was nothing. Cause if God make everything, where was God when he was making all these things? When them tell you seh God make Heaven and Earth, where did the Heaven and Earth come from that God could a make it? You know, we a say all of these things is concepts that don’t have no bearing on how we live with each other. These things divide man. Moses form a concept fe suit the Israelites in the wilderness. I am not in the wilderness. I haffe go find a different god from Jehoviah god now. I a seh now, is Haile Selassie, Haile Selassie to I is where I stop. And I stop now, but evolving within Haile Selassie, not that there’s nothing else, but I can see within that concept.
Through that, you see what you need to see . . .
Yea, a wider picture of what is the purpose.
Similar to how an indigenous person in America would look within . . .
Like how a Buddhist would see Buddha. Him look on Buddha and him see that consciousness reveal. Christ is not a man. Christ is a way. Like ya is a mechanic, or an electrician. There is a way to fix the radio. If you follow that way, you fix the radio. But you have to study that way. There is a way to live, that make man be more friendly with each other. That way can be called the Christ way, so if you follow that way, man will attain a certain level of consciousness with himself. But if you start to focus on the man, Jesus, you going to get mixed up, because there is so much things that people say about Jesus: Him born of a virgin; him dead pon cross; him walk pon water. These things is myth.
Last fall when I was [in JA], you played a tape or read something you’d recorded but it was some old scripture . . .
The Gospel of the Nazarene? About Christ, Jesus.
About him being just a man.
But he was a man.
Of course he was.
There was no virgin birth. These things is set by Rome. All of these stories that we hear about Jesus.
You don’t have to convince me of that.
Yea, yea, but through we talking for this thing. These things was set there politically by Rome. If Rome did not control Christianity, Christianity would not be what it is today, because Rome was a world power at the time, and they started to adopt this religion; they started to spread it amongst the colonies of Rome, so now all these things did not fit within the context of them, so they used their mythology and mix it up with Jewish mythology, and then come out with Christian mythology. But we now start to look on these mythologies and start to feel that these things is real. Like them tell you say a man walk pon water. If a man believe say a man walk pon water, him just believe say a cow jump over the moon and done! Who believe say a cow jump over the moon? A virgin baby?!
Some people, unfortunately, do believe that a cow jumps over the moon.
(Laughing). Yea, well, unfortunately them believe seh him walk pon de water! But there is a greater understanding to these stories that we don’t investigate. Is like a myth. A myth is there to explain reality that we have to look into. There is metaphors, but we stop at the metaphor, and we use the metaphor within our reality. Metaphors cannot suit reality. You have to decipher out these myths to come to a conclusion in your life, ya nuh see’t? But we don’t come to the conclusion by sticking, what does it REALLY mean when it say, Noah and the Ark. Do you really believe that a five-hundred foot boat could hold two of every animal in the Earth? No, it’s impossible. It’s ridiculous. Do you really believe that the rainbow inna de sky, because God say him nah going to destroy the Earth again, by water but by fire? We know why the rainbow inna de sky. There is a scientific explanation why the rainbow inna the sky. The religious person him not going to make him mind go deh, so him a go say is God put it deh. God nah go put nuttin deh. Is a phenomenon. Is a natural phenomenon. We can explain it now. These guys four thousand years ago, them couldn’t explain it, so them attribute everything to God. Now I am in this modern times. I can’t attribute everything to God that I know I can explain. So that is where the myth must be deciphered to make it sensible to an intellectual or an intelligent person who is thinking. If you don’t want to think then you can believe anything. Now we can think. We are thinking. Black people a think now. We a read. We a read the same book; we a go a the same school as Europeans now, so we can no longer believe in them lickle illusions deh, cause that going to carry further and further dung inna de pit. That is why Bob Marley say, ‘have no fear of atomic energy, cause none of them can stop the time.’ People make atomic bombs, but them can’t stop the time. Them blow up man, the Earth still there. The environmentalist say man a go destroy the Earth. Man cyaan destroy the Earth. Man a go destroy what it is to make him live on the Earth, but just because him dead, him is not the only life. Man is not the supreme life on Earth, is man believe that. Every life is as important as man life, is just man take it upon him head and feel like him more important than everything else.
You kind of answered my next question and that is, what is the use then of the Bible?
The Bible is to confuse you, but still it is there to heal you. It is a book written by men of old to express their historical understanding of life. But now you in this time would have to look into it, and see what is best suitable for your existence and what is not. There is no way I’m going to follow God in the Old Testament and sacrifice animals cause I love the scent of it. And if I do something wrong, I’m going to go out there and get so much turtles and so much oxen and burn them. That is primitive thinking. But they say is God say it. I know God nah have nuttin fe do with it. It is man trump up all these thing. So the god of Moses is not the god of Christ, because Christ come and deny everything weh them say him say, ‘you have heard that it was said, but I say . . .’ So him a show you a higher thing now. But I live inna dis time ya so now. Ya haffe look pon now, wha dem a seh Jesus say. What Paul say? Paul a try gather up some numbers from the Greeks and the Romans fe bring them over to a Jewish form of Christianity. Now, I am not a Roman or a Greek, so a lot of letters that Paul write to these people, the Ephesians, the Romans, the Corinthians. I wouldn’t take it upon myself and say is me, because I a come from a different experience. I a come from an African experience. I come from five-hundred years of colonialism and slavery. So I would have to shape God within the context of my life and how can God work for me. I nah work for God. How can God a go work for me? Because is I going to create all of this reality. So I create within my reality a historical figure and a historical person. That is Haile Selassie. I can see how Haile Selassie work for me, because I see him work for Africa. And I see how that linkage link the old with the new and with the now. And I have something to refer to without thinking mythologically. Because when I think pon Jesus, I haffe think mythologically. When I think pon Haile Selassie, I don’t haffe think mythologically.
When you talk about him working for Africa . . .
The works that Haile Selassie do for Africa, like the OAU (Organization of African Unity). He was instrumental in forming the OAU. He was the one who went to the Geneva Conference when everybody was thinking that Ethiopia was a primitive country. This eloquent man spoke so eloquently in the League of Nations, yet still he was mocked and jeered. He prophesied the Second World War. Him tell them, ‘you have struck the match in Ethiopia, it shall burn Europe. International morality is at stake.’ And so many things that we can see within Ethiopia. Ethiopia is the oldest unconquerable country in Africa. Is the only country in Africa that was never colonized. And it has maintained an ancient history, that if you go to Ethiopia, you can link Ethiopia past, and you can see the future. When I go to Ethiopia, Ethiopia to me come like ya inna de Bible. Lalabella. You go to Lalabella, it come like you inna de Bible days. Just like what you [read] about inna de Bible. Yet still there is parts of Ethiopia where you go and it look so modern. So we can see the link. We can see the link. I cyaan see the link inna Europe, because Rome history start at two youth weh dem say wolf. I mean is myth, [but] so them say it start. We have Egyptian mythology, Oros, Isis, these things is what create other religions. Is what create even the concept of what Moses handed down to the Israelites. I mean ‘thou shall not kill’ is not a new thing. When you hear ‘thou shall not kill’ it sound like out of the Ten Commandments it come, but the reason why Moses left Egypt is because him did kill. So there must be a law inna Egypt saying ‘thou shall not kill’ why him did haffe run left Egypt. Because him did kill a man and bury him inna de sand. And them find out him kill the man and him run, but Moses have a law say ‘thou shall not kill’ and everybody believe this is a Moses law. So a lot of the concepts that Moses came out with came from who him was with. Moses spend 40 years inna Egypt and him spend 40 years amongst an Ethiopian man name Jethro and him married an Ethiopian woman, so is 80 years of Moses life spent developing a political and a philosophical idea to lead the people of Israel out of the wilderness. So when I look pon dat, I a say, I can see how that could a blend with me, but I nah go take it literally. I a go see it as symbols — symbolism. And and how now maybe I can use it fe relate to me, but then again who need it fe relate to me. Black people inna more shit than Israel of the past, right now. So the Rastaman create this ideology out of an experience, out of a black ideology, out of a black theology. And it may sound ridiculous to some people, but it getting somewhere, because out of that come the reggae music that has influenced so much people inna de world. So when you look pon a lickle country like Jamaica, 144 miles long and fe see a lickle country like that has done so much in Earth, much more than what Jerusalem did then . . .
It’s almost unprecedented.
Yes. So I guess we just continue with that. So we haffe protect it by doing these things.