Meshack Blaq, DJ Redbeard, photos by Animal Chan
Be careful what you wish for because it may just come to pass. I speak as one of the first, but surely not the last. Many are called but chosen are few. We asked to Cover the most preeminent Worldwide Reggae Artist; it's true, it's true. And so to Jamaica Blaq, Chan & Pupecki flew. This Artist was loved by most, yet by some he was hated too. From the time we set foot 'pon Kingston, everybody knew. So what did we do? What did we do? We watched and waited, eyes wide and ears perked. Listening, learning, experiencing a Third World Kulture as we perched & lurked. Onto the other side in a place called Ochi for a concert. 3:00 AM the stage he takes in the rain. After the excitement and frenzy it became very plain. The Entertainer moves any crowd any time be it near or far. They call him Beenie Man, the BLESS-ED SOUL-JAH
KRON: What would you say was special about your performance tonight bein' that BET was in the house here in Ocho Rios?
BEENIE: I haven't been performin' in Jamaica for like three or four months. My last show in Jamaica was in February. It was supposed to be packed tonight but you saw how hard the rain was fallin'? People still turned out to show their appreciation and their love. Tonight's show was a kind of special show for the changing the whole movie image. This was not an international level show. Tonight's show was a full Dancehall performance. You have to give the people what they want and what they're used to; the Beenie Man they want to see. So that's what I gave them tonight.
KRON: You spoke about a lot of things onstage tonight. One of them was the name Ras Moses from Beenie Man. First, how did you get the name Beenie Man? You used to rock beenies when you were younger?
BEENIE: No, not really.
KRON: And second, how did you come to the transition from Beenie Man to Ras Moses?
BEENIE: My name is Moses Davis. That's my name originally, still. Beenie Man is a name that I get from people. As a kid I wasn't in the company of no kids. I was in the company of Jimmy Cliff, Black Uhuru and all these different people who were stars. I was like a man from the age of five. So that's how I got the name Beenie Man because people just see me and say I was the Beenie Man of the group.
KRON: So does Moses carry any other significance to you other than given birth name? As an Artist and Musician?
BEENIE: Yes. I'm a person who accepts that a name is supposed to make you stronger. It depends on what your name is. And your faith is supposed to make you more stronger. It depends on what month you're born and what sign you are. I don't believe in signs I believe in tribes. I'm an Issachar. Moses from the Bible is an Issachar. But the problem is, that gave me more strength to know that I'm Moses and I was born in the same month like Moses. I lead the people the same way like Moses talked. I'm kind of on the same route.
KRON: So what does Beenie Man the girls 'dem sugar mean? Girls 'Dem Sugar?
BEENIE: Girls 'Dem Sugar means I'm the girls 'dem sugar fan. I'm the girls 'dem candy. I'm the girls 'dem sweet! Every time the girls see me they go crazy. They give it up, Man: not me! People give you all different types of nicknames: all different types. A lot of songs I do give me more fans among females than the males.
ERIC: What do you like more, the Clash thing or the Performance?
BEENIE: Clash is nice but not all the time. I love music overall because I'm an overall Musician.
ERIC: Do you make more money cuttin' plates or doin' performances?
BEENIE: No. I don't believe in makin' money off dubplates.
ERIC: So you do them for your friends?
BEENIE: No. The problem overcharge people. I don't charge them under a thousand for one song either. I don't really make money off dubplates. I make money off tours and record sells usually.
ERIC: What about a Shocking Vibes record compared to a Virgin record?
BEENIE: Well sometimes a Shocking Vibes record is even bigger than a Virgin record in the islands. But Virgin Records is just a bigger label worldwide.
KRON: Can you speak about Art & Life, the album: and then the actual track? What are you saying in that track?
BEENIE: Art & Life is really exploring a different side of Moses. Like the Many Moods, I'm just in a different mood right now because its time to take the music to that level where people can really appreciate it. It's not like every minute you can have the music just in the Dancehall, boom boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom- boom-boom-boom-boom! Reggae music is international. Dancehall music is international. Literally! It's international in Europe, Japan, China, Africa, South America, all over the world. But America is giving it off-and-on, piece-and-piece, a- little-touch-here-and-a-little-touch-here. They have one song per year. So it's not like it's there plenty. It's there on the Reggae stations of course, because they have to play Dancehall music. But what we need is more exposure. So when I did Art & Life for Virgin it's an album with half-&-half American music/Jamaican music. So I don't do Reggae like a Bob Marley thing, but I can do my thing in a Reggae beat because that's how it is and that's where the music came from. That's the foundation of the music. It's like if you build a house and you forgot the foundation and the foundation shifts then the house falls down, the foundation is gonna still be there! So Art & Life is the album to break the grounds in America. We're pushin' it because we're not gonna stop until it really reach where we wanted to put it. It's just representing me.
KRON: But at the same time, don't you feel that you've already broke ground in America through the Hip Hop scene by being well respected and accepted and embraced by the Hip Hop community?
BEENIE: The problem is just to maintain that respect you get by the Hip Hop community. Breaking through is great but I'm not a one Hit wonder, nor am I a one- album Artist. I've been the Artist of the Decade in Dancehall music. All I need to do is be an Artist recognized in America that people say, "Here goes a new Beenie Man!" Not beenie Man the Sim-Simma guy, Beenie Man the Girl's Dem Sugar, Beenie Man Roll On. I'm talking about Beenie Man a everything! Like Beenie Man a Jay-Z, DMX. Beenie Man!!
KRON: You also spoke about attempts on your life. A lot of people in the States might not be aware. Can you elaborate on what's going on?
BEENIE: Well you got Player Haters everywhere: people that like you, people that don't like you. People tried to kill me three times. But I'm kind of careful in a different way and I always manage to escape 'dem: baldheads, deadlocks: all different types.
ERIC: So how's the deal with the Almshouse in Jamaica? Now that you've made it is it a big stress on you, or is it no problem?
BEENIE: It's no problem from any sense. It's always people who are gonna want things. I don't always have it to give so when I have to give, I give. When I don't have, I just don't. People live by respect and I live by respect. People respect me and I respect people. You don't disrespect me and I don't disrespect you.
KRON: How about you recently been given an Honorary Degree?
BEENIE: Doctorus of all Lyrics by the Jamaican Prime Minister. It's great!
KRON: What is it like for you travelling abroad? I can't help but think of a song by Junior Reid called Original Foreign Mind. What is it like for you being one of the biggest representatives of the music going abroad, only to return to Jamaica? Because a lot of musicians leave and don't live here no more.
BEENIE: I will never move from Jamaica. I have everything I want; cars, house, studio. I have my own office, my own building, everything. My mom have her house, my brothers have their house; I'm ahhite! I live in Jamaica, I ain't movin'! I'm not Foreign Mind neither. I like to work overseas and come back home. I've got 5 kids to come home to and I have to live for them to look up to me as a man. Not as just daddy, but a real Man. So I like to go out and come again and chill with my kids.
KRON: Is there any truth to the rumor of beefs between you and guys like Sizzla and Capleton? And isn't it a competitive thing like Hip Hop?
BEENIE: There's always Player Haters. That's what I'm telling you. Just gonna hate you for nothing. You don't do shit and they just don't like you. But yea, who wants to be the best and sell more records. That's all it is. The problem is I never tried to gain no man's strength and I have never tried to live in no man's shadow, or none of that. I have to just know what I'm doing, what I want, where I'm going, and don't watch people. I have to take the negative and make it positive so I can be a stronger man. I have my family to live for so I have to stand firm! Then I'd be stupid to answer that person speaking against me because that person will be workin' up, workin' up, workin' up! That's what happened with Capleton: I paid him mind and he becomes a star. I don't pay you no mind, you shit! That's it.
KRON: Do you consider yourself a Rastaman and what's the association between Rasta & Reggae at this time?
BEENIE: I am a Rasta. I don't consider myself a Rasta. I was born an Orthodox. I wasn't brought up in a told Ok, learn this and this is your life. I lived that life. I grow up in that life. As a kid I know nothing about nothing but Rasta. Nothing about Jamaica: but Africa. You see Reggae music associate through Rasta. Rasta makes Reggae music. It's just a natural thing. Reggae-smoke weed, Rastafarian-be Real. Dancehall you can do anything. You do anything during the week, Sunday you go confession. That's what Dancehall is. Then you have all type of dancehall Artists with weave hair, crème hair, jheri curl…
KRON: Did you ever have jheri curl?
BEENIE: No. I couldn't wear a jheri curl 'cause my Pop would kill me. Jheri curl? How would that look in my hair? Jheri curl! I dyed my hair one time and had to run away for weeks! I dyed my hair yellow and my Pop was like, "What!? Dennis Rodman up in the place?" And I put some weave in my hair one time. My locks were too short so I put some weave into it. Pop was like "Ya cut it off!" No bullshit: I couldn't do nothin' stupid.
KRON: You've always mentioned His Majesty in your music even throughout certain periods in the music when it wasn't always fashionable anymore. What is your conviction in constantly Big-Upping His Majesty?
BEENIE: To make people know. If people knew the power that Selassie I have they wouldn't fight it. I'm an Orthodox and Orthodox is not a religion, it's a life. I believe in God, the light of life. I believe in God, the maker of the Earth. I believe in God the Son, which culminates and dwell amongst man. Which is Selassie I, Ruler over all the other Prophets of the Earth. So I'm not afraid and I am not a hypocrite when I say Selassie I is my Prophet. He is my King. He is my guide through life. He's my Christ in his Kingly Character: my Melchizidek, my Imhotep.
KRON: And Marcus Garvey?
BEENIE: Marcus Garvey is my Teacher. He is my Headmaster of my school. It's like Marcus Garvey controlled the primary kids and the all age kids while Selassie I controlled the University. So you got your basic education and your higher level of education because it's all about education and more knowledge. I'm not single minded, I'm open-minded. I learned other things and I learned about other people. I read about other great people because you have white great people too, like Alexander the Great. But he was not greater than Hannibal for Hannibal is more greater than he. Hannibal conquered the world in 40 days and 40 nights. Alexander the Great conquered the world in 8 months. How can he be great? You have to know the where the whole history of life is coming from; put it together, get it in one mathematical order and just know that that life is a straight way. It's not leaned, it's not bent; it's not curved. It's just one straight life. But life is pulled down over your eyes to make you see life how youwant it to be. If you imagine yourself as a poor man who will never get rich, you will never get rich because you're not thinking about getting rich. You're not thinking about getting a job or thinking about doing something to help yourself. You're not thinking about doin' nothin' but bein' poor, bein' poor, bein' poor. Beg a ting here, beg a ting there, beg a ting here, beg a ting there… You'll just live like that 'til you die. But if you are ambitious and you have ambition and you want to be a man, then you think about life in a different way. You think about life on a big scale. You go to your bed and you have nightmares about the way you want to live, places you want to go, places you want to be, and everything just comes thru. It takes time if you wait, but it comes thru. I've been singing music for 17 years before I even get the break.
KRON: So growing up in Jamaica and watching cable television, how important would you say it is for you as an Artist to get on shows like BET Live with Rachel or Rap City with Joe Claire?
BEENIE: See, in Jamaica they respect you when you're a mainstream Artist in Jamaica. But when you're worldwide and you're down to Earth, you don't know the love you get. It's crazy! People don't talk about you in front of you. But BET Live got me a million calls from everybody that I know across the world complimenting me on my suit, my performance and my interview on the show. You've got to Represent! When you Representin', you gotta look like you Representin! You can't be all Thugged-out! This ain't no Thugged-out ting. I'm all dressed up; I'm a Rastaman. I deal with diligence and Diplomatics. You got to move that way. You can't be Representin' Rasta on that level. You've got to be Representin' yourself. I wear Thugged-out clothes, of course. Sometimes you gotta do that too, but that's not my destiny.You have to know what you're doing as a Blackman. You got to be Righteous & True to yourself. You gotta be Real!
KRON: before the show while you were chillin' with the audience, a lot of girls would come up to you being real sweet and asking for autographs. But after the show the guys were surrounding you in awe but not saying anything. Just kind of vibin' you to see what you would say and do.
BEENIE: See the guys, they just come and know how to act. Guys in Jamaica can't go crazy over guys. They'll get their ass kicked! So they just come and they give you vibes. And you know it's not no giddy-ass shit. They're just showing me respect.
KRON: What was the thing about the Police bein' there next to you?
BEENIE: These guys there had some big bud of weed in their hands and the Cop was like, "Ease off with your weed!" So they told the Cop, "This is Rasta House! You cannot tell Rasta what fi do in dem house!" So I told the Cop that he could not see the guys in their house and try to tell them to hold on their weed. This is their house so have respect for them like how you want they to have respect for you. Calm down the Police and let him know that respect is all we need. That's all we need to live. You have no respect for me; I have no respect for you. Then we can't live and then we go to war every minute. Gunshot is gonna fire, bomb is gonna flame! Weed is gonna smoke. You can't stop weed from smoke. Prime Minister, President, Mayor; everybody's smokin'!