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EXCLUSIVE! Jesse Royal talks with MIDNIGHT RAVER

MIDNIGHT RAVER Contributing Editor Kristin Wescott spoke with Jesse Royal before his debut show at Washington, DC’s 930 Club on Friday, February 6, 2015.

Photos by John Shore (www.johnshoremusicphoto.com)

MR:  Tell me, what aspect of Jamaica inspires your music the most?

JR:  “The people, the lives of the people, my relationships with the people and the peoples relationships with themselves and with nature. That is my biggest inspiration with Jamaica.”

MR:  You first started being exposed to music alongside your close friend Daniel Marley during what you have referred to as “nurturing season.” How did being exposed to studio at a young age and the song’s of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers affect you as a young artist?

JR:  “Well it affected me in a very impactful way because it is one thing to show that the mission is in the music and there is always something behind the words. So for me to experience the creativity in that aspect was always key to me. Because even the words have a meaning and every tune have a feeling.  My grandmother was a choir director, that was my first experience really in music. On the creativity process the Marleys helped me. Daniel inspired I and I, Kurt, and Kareem (Burrell). We all inspired each other. Lesson in what this music is about and what our purpose is about.”

MR:  You have mentioned in a previous interview, that Fattis Burrell (Kareem’s father) was one of your greatest influences, and that when it came to song writing, he taught you a lot about direction and word selection. What was it about word selection that he taught you – that helps you write lyrically today?

JR:  “Uncle Fatis never really taught me about work selection, but we used to always write. Where he came in was the guru, for a lack of a better terms, he knows how to steer, because at the end of the day we know where were going. At the end of the day I realized everyone has something to say. I remember with Uncle Fattis – we might not always be saying the best things but we are saying something.  Uncle Fattis was a guider, you can’t eat if you don’t want to follow.”

MR:  Based on one of your most recently released mix-tapes Royally Speaking – you seem to get inspiration from not only roots reggae but American hip-hop. For example, on “Good Morning” “Dreaming Of Africa” and “Baby Let Me Be” you sample Lil Wayne, Arrested Development and Common. What about American Hip Hop Inspires you?

JR:  “Grandmaster Flash, Biggie, 2 Pac, Snoop, Wiz, Kendrick Lamar –  they are all so creative. Saying that, I don’t exclude any interpretation. I am just a fan of music, and I become a bigger fan of music every day. Its not about the instrument its about how you used it. People take it at a different tempo and at a different time but its what you put in the middle. Hip hop is a part of the streets. Its not about where your from, I am not bigger then no man I am not smarter then one man, it is one nation.”

MR:  As an international artist, how do you feel YouTube and streaming services like Spotify and Deezer help you to reach listeners?

JR:  “To be honest You Tube, Soundcloud and the ability of these streaming services to get music to the people have become revolutionary, Because they really allow people to be hear whats out there. What Spotify does for the youth of today is give them a chance for their voice to be heard. (Which) is necessary for a societal movement. We get a chance to collectively push our voices – if someone has something to say that’s worthwhile it will be heard. 20 years from now thanks to Spotify we will no longer be at the choke hold of the big guy. I understand people’s plights against the lack of money but we will show them the advantages. You can’t get everything right at the end of the day, (however) it was a concept that was developed with the people in line. People are feel they are owed something, but me and my music is much bigger then that. We work for a cause that is much bigger than that. Money chases me.  I am grateful for the avenue of Spotify and I think a lot of people would share that sentiment.”

MR:  Whats the major difference between your 2013 mixtape, In Comes the Small Axe and the most recent one Royaly Speaking?

JR:  “One of the biggest differences was that at that point, when In Comes the Small Axe mixtape came in it was a different time . we were really just getting some songs out there, they were not even fully mixed. In reality me and my cousin DJ Talib we took two or three nights and we put what needs to be there and created In Comes The Small Axe. From the people for the people, ya know?  After we released it, it was well received. People were really digging the vibe – we did a mix-tape with some reasoning in the mix-tape. But there really wasn’t a lot of young youth doing that. For me it was a creative way for people to understand where we came from, and describe it a little  more vividly.”

MR:  How did you first meet Major Lazer?

JR:  “I was introduced to Major Lazer through some friends I was performing with at the time.  He brought the musical aspect in the sense, he controlled how the listeners heard me. He brought the vibes and he pulled up some very powerful vibes in to the mixtape. He was the main producer.”

MR:  In comparison to the King Bob Marley and how he affected and inspired a generation back in the 1970s how are young Jamaican artists going about reviving the current generation and bringing back the consciousness into the music?

JR:  “We have different angers. You have some youth that sell books, and some youth that make food and then holy ones, and junior gong, and all of these people who use the music to keep the heavens up. We try to keep them up and let them know that everything is in there hands. And even bob would tell you it was never a one man thing it keeps the heavens up. It’s a connection. We see the pains of yesterday so we work on tomorrow.”

MR:  One of your mentors, Earl Chinna Smith is a legendary inspirational figure – what was one of the most significant lesson you took away from being around such a profound artist?

JR:  “He is a brilliant brilliant brilliant brilliant brilliant creator and mentor. He is the real guru and live teacher. He leads by example he would teach I and I diligence and the music must be approached as a sacred object. He is really one of the greatest individuals that ever passed through my life. I feel honoured to have checked I and I a certain way.”

MR:  For the people here in the US, talk about the difference between a Jamaican pop artist and a Rastafarian artist.

JR:  “The consciousness and the spirituality at which music is viewed. When you’re a rasta your are dealing with people, you see yourself and everyone, you see the good and the separation. It is nothing more then the facts, the creator uses us – that is the only time we will be useful, so we are humbled by that. It is an understanding that anybody can be the wisest man . same as the most foolishness.”

MR:  I’m going to say a word and I want you to say the first word or phrase that comes to mind.  Water, meditation…

JR:  “Prosperity , sanctity, safety, higher balance.”

MR:  Royal…

JR:  “I and I ,  you know what I mean the life of black people the life of themselves the queen that is next to me.”

MR:  Patience…

JR:  “It’s a virtue. And it takes you great places in life it will take you many place.”


Photo: Jacquees Thomas (www.jacqsilver.com)

Photo: Jacquees Thomas (www.jacqsilver.com)

Photo: Jacquees Thomas (www.jacqsilver.com)






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