UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL - VYBZ KARTEL

Webmin
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By: DEPORTEE
Like season to mutton, a sizzling atmosphere,
musically sweet, high in the plateau of Jacks Hills,
Vybz Kartel in a relaxed mood, was penning some lyrics
to an eerie rhythm called siren with a happy Twilight Zone
feel to it. See weh me a seh?
Reclining in a cheap, white plastic chair, the slim
figure of this tough-talking, controversial deejay
leaned forward and coolly said, yes, king.
Introductions made, he continued to listen to the
siren beat, as if in sync with it. Cigarette smoke
wafted through the air and rose, spreading like genie
uncorked from a bottle in a little studio off
Shortridge Avenue, owned by LeftSide and Esco

Stepping outside, Kartel slumped in a chair and
enquired "Right yah all right boss?" and the beat
began.
"Me man Kartel, Adija Palmer. this is me, a good
person, just chilling with Roach, my road manager,
Lenny Matic ( who was busy twisting his hair) and Madd
Dogg" he said in his cocky Portmore drawl to the
question 'Who is Kartel?' I have a little bit of
seriousness and humour" he added.
"I listen to all kind of music. I try to have no
limitations, like saying stuff in a way that it has
never been said before. It all comes down to effective
delivery. Yeah."
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On tour
Touring the world is a wonderful experience for this
fantastic musical poet. "Japan is where I get the best
treatment. As a people who don't speak English as
their first language, they embrace me with a love.
They make me feel big and plus dem spend big time.
"Heh, heh, heh!" he clucks like a contented hen.
His sophomore album is in the works, and though
untitled, makes his piercing eyes behind his shades
glow with passion. "Nuff crazy, explosive tracks.
There will be 18 tracks on the CD. It is straight
dancehall and it is all about sex."
Responding to the concerns of the wider society that
he is too lewd, he confidently explains without any
histrionics:
"Deejay talk about what he sees king, zeen? It is a
reflection of society. If Kartel slack, the society
slack. It affects the social sphere. If you're too
blunt and it hurts people, me just tell them to go
take a Pepto Bismol."
"Life is harsh reality. I'm in your face," he adds.

Sex
"I talk about sex the way I talk about it, for
example, with a girl. Nuff people ah complain bout it
and a listen man songs a night-time. CNN uses crime
and violence to sell its news and when I man sing
about a natural ting, ah problem," he says. "Art
imitates life and it never changes. Man build guns to
kill people and me kill people in mi lyrics. Music
does not have any bearing on the civil wars, genocide
and all the upheavals around the world. It is more
religion. So art cannot imitate life and anyone who
think or say else, talking bulls..it."
His usage of similes, innuendoes, mixed metaphors are
impressive and like a professor of English he lectures
: "Using specific words in a specific sentence is the
key. Me nah go use words what everybody use. If you're
a doctor or engineer and when yuh hear a certain word
in a Kartel song, you're gonna stop and say 'bwoy deh
youth deh know what him a do'."
"People have to listen, that's the reason. if you
listen, you can learn a thing or two. Reading
complements one's writing ability."

For example, Kartel's lyrical level is boosted by his
highly- known introduction, which he explained: 'See
me a say' wasn't a slang, I used it as a back up,
basically as a catch phrase. One time, I was at the
studio with Don Corleone and me run out a tings fi
say, so me say wait, me nuh can do that and from that,
it has become a part of my recordings. The girls dem
love it." he grinned matter-of-factly.
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uncompromising:
An uncompromising deejay who rose to infamy with his
clash with the Don Gorgon Ninja Man at Sting 2003, he
explained the events which led to the most notorious
of clashes at the greatest one-night show on earth.
"The ting with Ninja Man happen because people wanted
to know who is Vbyz Kartel. Good or bad, it got us
fame, got us shows overseas." "Bloodc..at, a dem tings
deh," he devilishly chuckled. "Seriously though, we
never needed that to reach where we are now."
"Me nuh chat to Ninja Man, ok?", he says when asked if
the relationship was cool between the two deejays. "Me
nuh keep relationship wid man still."

contemptous
Showing contempt for deejays who are below his
pedigree and his recent musical skirmishes with
Spragga Benz and Assassin, he 'timelessly' uttered;
"the ting with lyrical clash is that me not clashing
with no man who doesn't write his own lyrics. We write
our own lyrics, no ghostwriter, no co-writer. How me
fi lock up inna room with six man writing lyrics?" "If
me an six man inna room, a must plan we a plan fi
rob."
"I have recorded almost 800 songs so far. Cassette
Ninja and man like dem have all a dem songs deh. At
Sumfest, I wrote the song titles and pasted them on
the stage floor because there are so many songs to do
and yet still not everybody is pleased as they don't
hear the song they wanted to hear."
Being a deejay with street credibility, Kartel must
act and look the part. The shades he sports
constantly is a part of his persona. "One time, a pure
kerchief and shades but now me lose the kerchief and a
pure shades a dweet now," he says. "A Bounty Killer
lead the way. all inna New York blackout the Killer
have on shades," he laughs.
In his immitable thug-like style, he recalled the
moment when he was arrested on ammunition charges.
"The jail thing was a vacation", he laughs as he
reminisces about being locked up for four days. "From
me go inna jail, ah two Kartel picture and a Ninja Man
picture me see. Me and Roach did deh deh, and it was a
simple ting dat. We know 'bout south and dem tings deh
and the man dem a Southside and Tel Aviv did cool, so
it cool"
Humming a 'chune' again, he asks Roach; "How it play
again?" And sotto voce, deejayed a line or two to his
sidekick who was listening intently.
Do you have a problem with the police since your
run-ins with the law? "If dem stop me, me nuh have no
interest inna Babylon. Me a work, dem a work; dem a
look fi bad man. The only way dem stop me is for a
traffic violation or when me smoking a spliff," he
said with a loud guffaw.
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insightful
Offering some insight into the soaring crime and
violence as one who is blamed for deejaying about
guns, he pops off a round . "The government is to be
blamed and when I say that I mean both parties. The
system, although the word 'system' is played out, the
powers that be, need to do a whole lot of things. We
deejay to make a life. jobs are needed or else this
crime thing will never go away."
But Vybz Kartel is more than a deejay standing behind
a microphone. He adds his bit on the local music
industry. "Dancehall moving to higher levels. Variety
is the spice of life. Music is too informal in
Jamaica. we need contracts with specific clauses that
are legally binding. Any breach should be worked out
in a professional and business-like manner. Nuff
people a talk bout dem a your fan, but dem a build
pure bootleg CD. Bootleg CDs are killing the music. we
need to clean that up."

Back to the future
"Punch line bad," he chortles, jumping up from the
chair. Furiously searching his pockets, he seems to
have misplaced the paper on which he had scratched
some lyrics. "Me caan find it. whe me put it?" he asks
Roach- who shrugs his shoulders and dumbly looks on -
in a terrified voice.
Like a child in a candy store, he screams "me have it!
me have it! me find it" and with a sigh of relief and
a rueful grin, he slumps back down.
Kartel is not a prophet or Miss Cleo, but a realist,
who plans his path to where he wants to be - movies,
music, the works.
"I see myself in acting in the years ahead. I starred
in a no budget movie, a no budget, not a low-budget
movie, named Thug Life in 2000," he emphasised. "It
was about life in the scheme, drugs taking over and I
am trying to do away with it. The good over evil
stuff, you know. It is selling hot in the United
States and England."
"I have my own artistes and I am into artiste
development, promoting my label and enjoying every
aspect of the music industry." "I would like to do a
collaboration with 50 cent and also with R. Kelly.
'Raw Kelly' is my singer, we nuh bun weed together, so
me nuh care if him did eat the meat. I would like to
do one with Eminem. He is one crazy, tough, dude."
Stamping his white sneakers loudly against the
concrete, exterminating some ants in the process he
adds that the remix of Mr. Lonely with Akron will be
released soon.
"Music to me is life. I save lyrics to my mind. it's
like a musical spare parts and at a later date when I
hear a wicked riddim, the lyrics just start flow."
Pow! squish! The white sneakers crush a annoying bug
that was flying around. "Not a roach, no feel no way,"
he jokingly addresses Roach who sits Fonz-like,
smiling coolly.
With that, studio time ending, and more pressing
'moves' to make, the man of 'tittylating' fame said
adieu and sped off into the cool bosom of the Saturday
night with his crew in his cream Lexus jeep. See me a
seh?

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