Gyptian Holds a Strong Meditation - Reggae Music


By: YardFlex Reporter Jigga

gyptian_yardflexA.jpgYou'd be hard pressed to find a more humble artiste than singer Gyptian. He has been able to retain his easygoing persona even though he has been bombarded by accolades and hailed by many admirers since his smash hit, 'Serious Times'.

The powerful hit, 'Serious Times', is a song carved in reggae oak - solid. The terrific trifecta of Gyptian's rich, ice-cube clear sound, the mournful drums of noted Nyabinghi drummer, Bongo Herman, and the sweet saxophone of Tony Green have made the song a bona fide hit that has made FM radio in Jamaica sit up and pay attention.

It has graduated to cult status, becoming a ghetto anthem on the lips of the poverty-stricken masses. The song is all at once a call to action, a sad commentary on the country's spiraling murder count, and an earnest advice column to young males on how to survive these most 'serious of times'.

Riddim magazine interviewed the artiste just a few days shy of his 23rd birthday at Mr. Wong's studio, 'Ten Times Strong' in Portmore, St. Catherine recently. Seated on a fire hydrant outside the studio, and dressed in his underpants and a white merino, Gyptian is the impresario of cool.

"Calm as the breeze would describe me, just cool and easy going, it's an Edwards thing, in the genes," he joked, a dying ganga 'spliff' hanging from his lower lip.

Gyptian was born Windel Beneto Edwards on October 25, 1983, and hails from King Weston District near Lawrence Tavern in St. Andrew. He got his first whiff of success last year when he was chosen as the winner of a major talent contest. Now, only a few months later, everybody knows his name. But this humble young man is almost at pains to maintain that his recent heady success has not changed him in any way.

"Nothing no change, people see me as a star, but I always see myself as a leader, growing up, going to high school, I was always a leader long before this, so this is nothing I can't handle," he said.

He attended King Weston All-Age before going on to Glengoffe High school, and had always harboured the ambitions of either becoming a police officer, or a soldier. He had never seriously entertained the idea of a career in the music business, but admits that he used to love singing in churches.

gyptian_yardflexb.jpg"The church is like the dancehall, God de everywhere, Methodist, Baptist, Ebenezer church so I go there go sing," he said. He grew up in what he calls "a happy household" with both parents, his Christian mother, Pauline, and his Rastafarian father, Basil. "They have always lived lovingly and they never tried to influence us to become Rastafarians or Christians, they allowed us to make up our own minds," he said.

Encouraged by family members, Gyptian began to pursue his music career, and began to hone his craft at several talent shows and small concerts across the island. He came to Kingston and hooked up with renowned musician Earl 'Chinna' Smith, who produced the first 'Serious Times' track as far back as 1999, but it was never released. "I went back to King Weston to regroup, and then I had some relatives in Portmore who told me about this studio there, so I went to that community to live in 2004," he said.

A few months later, after winning the 'Portmore Star Search' contest, the Big Enchilada came (drum roll please), the resurrection, re-make and release of 'Serious Times'.

"This producer, Kenneth 'Spragga' Wilson actually took me off a construction job I was doing for $1,000 a day to voice the tune, and he never paid me for voicing the tune because he used up all his money to book the studio time, and ting, si I never got paid for the song," he said.

But all that is forgotten now given the smashing success of the song.
"The whole vibe with the tune good right now, everyone a reach out to it and to me, so I have to keep my composure about it," he said.
Several artistes have already began to comment on Gyptian's serenity, and composure when on stage. Reggae l0vers who have seen him perform are struck by the mesmerizing quality of his delivery when singing 'Serious Times'. He stands almost stationary, and he begins to chant in that distinctive throaty voice, and audiences stand a little in awe of what appears to be the cool, matter-of-fact musings of a youthful Old Testament prophet who has a little bit of God's inside information.

In that moment, he becomes what Jamaicans like to call a 'warner man', a doomsday Messiah prophesying about approaching destruction. All that's left is that single finger of reproof. Gyptian is a shortened word for 'Egyptian', a name given to him by his friends who were teasing the artiste one day because he had wrapped a towel over his head, and "looked like an Egyptian", and the name stuck. He is still learning about the Rastafarian faith, and has begun to grow his covenant (locks).

"If it grow, it grow. Right now, life is just for living, and am not 100 per cent sure about Rastafarianism being a religion as some people make it out to be, so I am just taking it easy," he said.
Gyptian credits Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Luciano, Beres Hammond and other cultural icons as his influences, but surprisingly, it is Celine Dion.

"I love her delivery, her clarity, her work is powerful, the songs are incredible, each note is sharp and clear, she is so good I can't even pick out my favourite song, I love all of them," he said.
He also has great admiration for Jimmy Cliff, who the singer claims "looks a lot like my father."

"I would love to sit and have a conversation with him one day," he said. He has not been signed to any label, but has been doing some freelance work with a number of different producers, working on follow-up songs such as 'What a Policy' on the Season rhythm, 'You Never Know', 'Mama Don't Cry' and 'Going on Life's Journey'.

"I have done some things that I have put my all into and I feel really proud about it. Music is the only thing that will transpire eternally and the idea of doing conscious music has become a part of me," he said.

Source: Riddim Magazine