POPULAR old time reggae artist, Ras Kimono made a tremendous mark on the music scene over two decades ago with his wife as his manager. After his successful career in Nigeria, the Rastafarian relocated to the United States of America. Three years after his comeback to his fatherland, he is set to rekindle his music career with a 10-month old album. In an exclusive interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Wednesday, July 11, 2012, he talked about his music, morality, governance and his new manager.
How would you describe your involvement in music for over 20 years?
I am doing my best and leaving the rest for the Most High. I am 100 per cent involved in the music business because that is all I do, I am not involved in any other business. I do not buy and sell but my focus is on music.
All the while you were off the music radar, what was your impression of the Nigerian music industry?
I think it is a blessing in disguise for the upcoming youths. Probably if people like us did not go under for a while, they would not have discovered their own brand of music called Afro Hip-hop, which is all over the world. It’s a good thing that everybody can now identify the Nigerian kind of music. So, if we did not step aside, such music would not be born.
What was your perception of the Nigerian music and video you watched and listened to while you were away?
They were nice but unfortunately, they can’t play reggae. They are all scared of playing reggae because it is too hot to handle. It deals with reality of life and serious issues and how to do things right. Most of my albums were banned because I was singing about the truth of Nigeria. You do not make much money from reggae because it is a freedom song. I sing against wicked politicians. So, youths were diverting into hip-hop and Afro hip-hop because they are scared.
Would you still relate reggae to prophecy, revolution, et al?
Yes, that is what reggae is known for. It deals with the issues of insincerity, starvation in the land and fake philosophies.
What kind of reggae do you think should be heard now?
In America for example, the country is filled with issues of drugs and sex, so why should I come out and start singing about something that is none of our business or our culture. In our own culture, the politicians make us suffer and by suffering, we have to resist it in its totality. There are people out there who graduated about four or five years ago without a job, so I can’t be singing all is well when all is not well. Even the politicians lie to us on TV that all is well when all is not well. Come to the ghetto where I live and see what is going on.
Will you say people are going into music for financial gains?
I’m not saying that, what I am saying is that youths cannot play reggae because they are afraid to speak the truth, and they probably would not make their money and people would not like them. It’s all fallacy. Everywhere I go, I get a warm reception. Maybe I do not have money but there is an adage in Africa that says, “A good name is better than money.” So, I have a good name but not the money because people appreciate what I have done and what I’m still doing. I am age mates with most of the politicians now, so I can say anything I want about them. The highest thing they will do is to kill. So, it is my time and turn to call a spade a spade and they can only look me up because I know for sure that they cannot kill me. If you kill me because I said the truth, a fire will start from where you never expect. The police and army are also crying because of the kind of government we have now, probably only the politicians are not crying because they are the ones making all the money.
How should reggae be appreciated?
Like a Rasta man said, ‘We don’t preach it.” All I can say is if you want to listen to good music that speaks about reality and the truth, you should go for reggae because reggae is very soul lifting and helps you relax. It also gives you a word of encouragement.
Tell us about your new album.
Everything was done in America, I and my brother, Alex D’ Cole from the Caribbean. It took me about 10 months to record in America. As I was coming back to Nigeria, I knew I have to come with something different. Every other album done in the past was in Nigeria, so coming from America, it must be of good quality.
What is your new album all about?
It is all about philosophy and hints from the society.
What are your expectations from this new album?
My expectation is for people to recognize that I am back for good. My prayer is for people to know that I am back to be accepted in good fate. Basically, they should write critically about it that is, the good, bad and ugly.
Can you tell us about your experience in America?
It was a lovely experience just that all that glitters is not gold. It also broadened my knowledge about life and music. For me, going foreign and back makes me know that everything must be alright. Then I also have a new manager, Pfizer, he works at Eko FM. Kelly Adams is no more my manager.
Apart from this album, what do you have in stock?
This is the only album I have in stock until this album is exhausted then I begin to think about the next step. This album happens to be the primary project that I am pursuing.
In your new videos, are we going to see you dance and gyrate as you did years back?
It is not in every video that I have to dance but in the next video I am going to shoot either before this year runs out or early next year, there would be a lot of dance in it because Nigerians love to dance. So, I have something in stock for them.
Which artists would you love to work with?
Any artist that wants to work with me, I will make myself available. I have worked with Daddy Fresh, Timaya, etc. But he must be a reggae artist.
When people come to you for advice, what do you tell them?
Leave drugs and alcohol alone because they think that would make them a super star, but it would rather destroy them.
Can you tell us about your family?
Actually, I do not talk about my family because I want to give them their privacy. They can talk about themselves wherever they go.
How do you get inspiration for your music?
My environment speaks a lot. I have never lived in VGC, but I stay with my people here on the Mainland. Sometimes you look through the window, what you see is chaos, so I put that in my music.
With our democracy, would you say music can push the government to do the right thing?
Yes, but unfortunately, most of our leaders in the past didn’t really listen to music because if they listened to music, Fela alone would have caused the change. They did not listen to music until they have somebody who probably would be like Donald Duke, because he loves music. No matter what you say, he would still organize his carnival because he loves music. Well, our president does not love music but I know he loves film. But both the movie and music industry do the same job because they speak about the society. So, if we have a good president who listens, the system would change.
What do you say to the younger generation who grew up knowing your music and not you?
I was born and bred in Africa. I see myself as a full time black African. They should continue to do that which is right and tell the truth always.
- AMODENI DOLAPO
This story was first published in Encomium Weekly edition of Tuesday, July 17, 2012