West Midlands based veteran Reggae artist Macka B has been spreading his style of Reggae music all over the world since he released his first album in 1986 and is very proud to still be releasing records that help break down barriers. A couple of weeks he launched his latest album 'Change The World' on his very own Chinelo Records Label. The first new album for four years by the Rastafarian MC it features guest vocals by Luciano, David Hinds and Earl 16, and features conscious lyrics touching on someserious subjects, Nuclear Energy, Medical Marijuana, Reparation, Gang Warfare, The Death Penalty, Fidelity, Rastafari and more. eFestivals got a chance to talk to the Wolverhampton dancehall toaster.
Yeah it was nice, the vibe was nice and a lot of people were there, we came there early and the vibes all day had been really nice. It was like a really nice festival, good vibes and everything, and the people seemed to really enjoy it, taking in the lyrics and dancing to the music. I really enjoyed it.
When you play festivals do you get a chance to look around them normally?
Not so much, I went around BoomTown a little bit, but not as much as I wanted to, because sometimes time is not on our side. When we go to Glastonbury, and certain places we try to walk around a bit. Especially when we go abroad, we try to get around a bit at festivals in Germany, and France, and all these kind of places, and buy some souvenirs maybe and do all those sort of things. But sometimes there are time restraints.
You went down incredibly well, what do you think makes reggae music so suitable at festivals?
I don't know it's like a people's music really, and they compare reggae music to a heartbeat and the people who really gravitate towards reggae music are the people who care about things like the environment, and people who care about humanity and society and all those kind of things, the natural things. It seems to me they are like a lot of people who go to festivals, they really want to enjoy themselves, but they really care about certain things as well, they don't just not listen to the lyrics of the music. They're more into lyrics and into vibration, and reggae music combines good positive lyrics most of the time, and a good steady beat that people really enjoy, making reggae music the one of the most perfect music for festivals.
Have you done many festival over the years?
Yeah, yeah, I have done lots of festivals over the world, and we've done many in Enlgand. As you say BoomTown, and Glastonbury, Endorse-It, One Love, all these kind of festivals, and we do festivals in Germany, the big reggae festivals like SummerJam, Chiemsee, and the Rototom festival a very big festival in Spain, and Serbia. We also do festivals in Africa, and South America, Jamaica, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. So we travel worldwide doing festivals.
Do you enjoy being on the global festival circuit?
Yes, I really enjoy travelling about spreading the message, because I'm really a great advocate of having a message within the music, and being able to spread it to all the corners of the earth is a joy to me. Sometimes the travelling itself, all the flying can get arduous, but once you reach a place and you see the response of the people and how glad they are that you took the time to se them, and they really feel warm towards you, it makes the travelling worthwhile.
It came across in your music that you have a pretty good sense of humour as well.
Yes, I find out it helps still because of the subjects are quite controversial, and when you tackle them sometimes people might turn off completely if you go 100% serious. But, I find sometimes if you add in a little bit of humour a smile can break down many barriers and people start to smile and thinking about it, and then they realise you might have a point, and then they start to act on it to find out a little more about it. So i always like to put a lot of humour within my lyrics, but sometimes they have to be fully serious because sometimes there's no space for the humour. But I'm well renown for putting humour in my lyrics.
You also have a new album out, 'Change The world'...
It's got people like Luciano from Jamaica, David Hinds from Steel Pulse, Earl16 from Jamaica, and Lloyd Brown, and it's been very well received and got a lot of good reviews. Yeah, as the title track says it's all about changing the world, and changing all the negative in the world and making it a more positive place, a fairer place for everyone. As you travel around the world to all these festivals it kind of broadens your mind, and you kind of see all the real people. If you just rely on the tv all the time then you don't really see the real people. For instance, when we go to certain countries the picture painted of them is not how it is when you go there. You find out that there are bad people everywhere but that there are a lot of good people as well, and they seem to come towards the reggae music and festivals, and so it's really nice.
And you're taking the album on tour?
Yes, we have started to already, we've done 14 shows in Germany already and we're going to France next week, then the Czeh Republic, and we're going to Italy with it and Africa, and then we're going to New Zealand and Australia, many places. It's looking good so far. We play the UK, the first one is Bristol on the 19th October, and we play Manchester on the 2nd November, and we have a few other shows planned as well.
Has your music changed much over the years?
Other people say this last album is like a more melodic Macka B, but it just depends on the album and the time. My career has spanned over four decades, it hasn't been forty years, it's been about twenty six years but it spans from the Eighties, Nineties, Two Thousands, into the Two Thousand and Tens. So ever since then whenever they hear Macka B they know it's going to be social commentary and heavyweight reggae music and in that aspect it hasn't changed very much. I always keep topical and up to date. As you may know when I was at BoomTown I did one of my new songs called 'Out Of Order Racist Footballer' which has a dancehall beat, but it's still Mack B style. Whatever the decade and whatever the style it's still Macka B.
Your set was quite dancehall heavy...
Yes there was a lickle bit in there, sometimes it just depends upon the occasion that you hear me. On that day Beenie Man was supposed to be playing as well, it was a family occasion, you know.
As you say you've been through four decades of the reggae scene, how have you seen it change?
It's changed a bit. When I first started the roots was more predominant, it was more into the roots, the Bob Marleys and The Burning Spears. Although it is still there now, you see a lot of dance hall coming now, which is all good. Sometimes the message within the music is not there, and it's a bit more negative and derogatory to women, and too much gangsta talk, and too much gun talk which I think is not really progressive towards the youths. We need some positive messages to help people in their situation in life. The music is changing, on the album I have a track called 'Reggae Is The Daddy' about how reggae has influenced a lot of urban music in the UK.
Reggae has actually influenced jungle, they use a lot of reggae samples in there and it's only changing the beat a lickle bit. From jungle it went to drum & bass, and garage, then grime and dubstep have all come from these genres. I'm saying reggae has directly influenced all of these, and right now dubstep is very big but a lot of the dubstep songs if you just change maybe one instrument it's out and out reggae. Sometimes it's a different description of the music but it's the same vibration.
It seems to me there was more reggae live music around 20 years ago than today, do you think because it contains so much social commentary the way the country is now is bringing reggae back?
Yes I think so. I think it's mainly only in this country that there's less reggae festivals because if you go to France in every lickle village there's a reggae festival, it's amazing. If you go to Germany the SummerJam festival is three days of reggae and each day they get 20,000 people, and the Chemisee festival is the same, and you've got Ruhr Reggae Festival, you've got ReggaeJam Festival, you've got so many festivals. In Spain now, in Italy it was the Rototom but it's moved to Spain but that's seven days of reggae and they get thousands and thousands of people.
It's just in England, you know, you've got the One Love Festival, and you have reggae within some of the other festivals. But, I think as genres like dubstep are getting more and more popular. A lot of the people are looking where dubstep came from and trying to look into the roots of the music, and when they do that they are going arrive back at reggae, and a lot of them might like the reggae more than the dubstep because it's all about vibration and getting into the messages within the music. I think there's going to be a big resurgence within reggae, and there's one or two festivals that have already cropped up, and young people are more getting into it, which is a good thing.
Thank you very much for your time.
interview by: Scott Williams
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