Thursday, March 18, 2010

One on One With Vybz Kartel - "I put my trust in scientists rather than pastors"












Firebombings, scandalous pictures, beatings, conflicts with artists and producers, visa problems, and getting called into a summit with the Prime Minister - despite all this, Vybz Kartel, aka Addi the Teacher, aka the Gaza King - the infamous Adidja Palmer is still the Last Man Standing. Is the press surrounding these events real or just hype? I sat down with the Gaza Don himself to find out what separates the entertainer Vybz Kartel from the man Adidja Palmer, who I personally think is one of dancehall's most talented writers - whether controversial or conscious.

Zo:
First and foremost, a majority of the comments on Itunes say it's your best album yet. How do you feel about Pon di Gaza 2.0?

Vybz Kartel:

mi say di same ting.

Zo:

Why is the Gaza such a significant part of your lyrics in your music?

Vybz Kartel:

It's the nickname of my community. But since its inception everywhere in Jamaica has it graffiti style to show their love for Addi and it's also the unofficial name of the teacher. Like a pseudony.

Zo:

Give thanks for that explanation, very articulate - there are a lot of people in the world that don't know that.

Are you the sole writer for the lyrics in 2.0? Where do you draw your inspiration from writing your songs?

Vybz Kartel:

I am the sole writer for every Kartel song ever. Plus I wrote all of Gaza Kim's songs when she was part of the empire and all but one of Lisa Hype's songs when she was a member. Plus I wrote all the songs for Indu, Sheba and Gaza Slim.

My divine inspiration is from life, I get the meditation through divine inspiration

Zo:

What are the two most significant tracks on 2.0?

Vybz Kartel:

That's like asking who my two most significant children from the family of five are (laughing). It's relative to whoever's listening to decide what moves them. All of them are the "fatboy from Hiroshima."

Zo:
A lot of people think that you're a controversial person. I personally think you're extremely talented and you've expressed that in your diversity, why do you think people consider you so controversial, in terms of this gaza vs. gully business?

Vybz Kartel:

In terms of everything. Teacha is a controversial DJ because I choose to be different. I choose not to conform to people's expectations of what an artist should be, do, or say. I'm outspoken and I think, act and react outside the box.

Zo:

Your music is very worldly in inspiration. Do you have a particular spiritual background, or do you adhere to a certain school of thought?

Vybz Kartel:

I think religion is "good" in terms of restricting chaos as it keeps people in check (sort of like an extension of man-made laws). So they, the religious, believe that for every "evil" action (sin) there is a punishment of severe and eternal proportion (burn in hell, blah blah blah). I am spiritual not religious, I put my trust in scientists rather than pastors. I praise life.

Zo:

Nice... What's the reasoning in scientists rather than pastors?

Vybz Kartel:

Science is based on facts - Proof of things through hypothesis, reasoning and trial. Religion is based purely on faith, which in religious ed is "the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." That can't run my life. No I'm not a scientologist freak. Just a Gaza youth

Zo:

What is the experience like being a celebrity in Jamaica? Do you see yourself as a role model or just an entertainer?

Vybz Kartel:

To whom much is given much is expected, but not in a way most people see it. That saying cannot be applied to entertainers or artistes for that matter because we express life and life can be as unpredictable as dice. So don't expect the "expected." I think as an entertainer I cannot be held responsible for growing your child. I do adult entertainment. I am an entertainer, not a religious or political leader nor a school teacher. Can Rambo grow your child? No. But maybe Sylvester Stallone can. You get what I'm saying?

Zo:
As a trendsetter, how do you see yourself in the future of dancehall music?

Vybz Kartel:

As the Russell Simmons of dancehall, that's why I have a record label that signs artistes, handles bookings and artiste development. Merchandising my line of rum, condoms, etc... I want to go into film production as well.

Zo:

Why Film?

Vybz Kartel:
It's one of the untapped areas of art in Jamaica. We need more films like The Harder They Come, Shottas, etc... to publish the Jamaican experience more vividly.

Zo:

Why are you choosing to remain an independent artist and do your own thing by not adhering to the norm and signing with a major label like Universal or VP?

Vybz Kartel:

It's rebellion against the notion that a label cannot come from Jamaica that can deliver Jamaican music better than a VP or Greensleeves. That's why I released my album on my Adidjaheim/NotNice label before re-releasing with Tads Record Inc as a partner. The initial album sales before the release were poor because I was learning. But the fact I did it on my own is a victory within itself.

Zo:

Do you have any future tour lined up to promote the album?

Vybz Kartel:

Tour? Not really me. Not yet at least. Maybe I'll get the touring attitude when it becomes financially viable like a Michael Jackson tour.

So just who is Vybz Kartel and who is Addija Palmer? A pure genius, he leaves the world in suspense and mystery. One thing I know for sure, he was Zojak World Wide's #1 single-track selling Dancehall artist of 2009. The big hit Romping Shop, featuring Spice, sold over 35,000 downloads and ringtones. For an independent artist who did not tour in 2009, and promotes his music strictly in Jamaica whether physically or online, this truly shows a positive change in the music industry for Jamaican artists.

Pon di Gaza 2.0 is now available on Itunes and a variety of other fine e-tailers worldwide. The physical release is being distributed by Tad's Record Inc.

James Lord, Press Relations

ZOJAK World Wide, LLC

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