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Interview: Prezident Brown

Interview: Prezident Brown

Interview: Prezident Brown

By on - Photos by Lee Abel - 3 comments

"I apply music to what I want to say. The melody carries the words and I use words to express myself"


Prezident Brown

Prezident Brown informs and entertains

Jamaican conscious reggae singer and chanter Prezident Brown has just released his ninth album I Sound Is From Creation, an album created organically in the studio by chanting melodies and lyrics. United Reggae spoke to the Prezident about the new album, his mentor Jack Ruby and why he doesn’t go to church.

In the press release for Prezident Brown’s latest album 'I Sound Is From Creation' he is described by label owner Tad Dawkins as one of those “silent by deadly gems of reggae music”. This description is spot on when talking Prezident Brown. He’s down to earth, courteous and gives thorough answers to each question. He also describes himself as something of a smoother kind of deejay or singjay.

“As an MC I’m not exciting and loud. I’m more about intelligence and reasoning. Not jumping up and down. I think it brings people into the dance and keeping them in the dance,” explains Prezident Brown over the phone from Paris where he does promotion for the new album.

Under Jack Ruby’s wings

The late legendary producer and sound system operator Jack Ruby was the one who took the young Prezident Brown under his wings in the mid 80’s and taught him to focus on what he did best – entertain, inform and inspire.

“I was introduced to Jack Ruby by Professor Frisky who was a friend of mine, and he directed me to see myself properly,” reveals Prezident Brown.

When they first met he went under the alias Slim Brown because of his resemblance and similar style to U Brown. Jack Ruby renamed him and appointed him resident MC of his Hi-Power Sound System.

After Jack Ruby’s death in 1989 Prezident Brown started recording with many different labels and producers and released several albums in the 90’s, one of them being the highly praised To Jah Only, which featured the spiritually devoted title track.

Album deal fizzled out

Some of the tunes on To Jah Only was supposed to be on an album he was working on for Island Records, but his five album deal with the label didn’t work in his favor.

“I’m not sure what happened to the Island deal. They wanted to use famous producers and have a hit song. And the A&R that had signed me was fired, and it went downhill afterwards, since the person replacing her wasn’t interested in me,” explains Prezident Brown, and continues:

“I took my lawyers advice and forgot about it. I did my part and have nothing to regret.”

Bringing two styles together

Prezident BrownPrezident Brown has also made a musical journey or maybe a transition. He started singing more dancehall oriented music, but switched to a more conscious approach.

“I did it because of the art form and for the preservation of music. My experience also grew after interacting with other people in the business and to remain interesting I had to make a transition. I needed to transit to what I’d say putting all of my musical experiences together in one package. Singjay and deejay. Compare the two styles,” explains Prezident Brown, and adds:

“It’s the same thing that Sizzla, Lutan Fyah and Turbulence are doing. But they’re more aggressive. I’m a bit smoother. I’ve my way of aggression too, but not the same. I mean the way of handling the riddim, not the mindset. Smooth and aggressive.”

Old school is important

One his new album I Sound Is From Creation Prezident Brown is perhaps smoother than ever before, partly because he sings more, rather than chanting or deejaying.

The album was recorded together with Jamaican band Axx of Jahpostles with Devon Bradshaw on bass and Ian “Beezy” Coleman on guitar. They’ve worked together before and the working situation this time was according to Prezident Brown fruitful and comfortable.

“Axx of Jahpostels were a famous backing band in the 90’s and Devon Bradshaw has played with Burning Spear. They’re old school musicians and sometimes being old school is important. Old school musicians understand sound and they understand how reggae is created. That’s why I have to work with older people like Vin Gordon and Glen Da Costa. It’s important to preserve the sound,” states Prezident Brown, and continues to explain how the reggae sound is created:

“It’s a vibe, but it’s hard to tell you how. It’s a way that we vibrate. It’s how we think. It’s a whole thing. It’s an attitude and a package of Jamaica and vibration. Intelligence to make music sound the way it sounds.”

“If I’ve nothing good to say I better shut up”

The album title stems from Prezident Brown’s notion that all sound created by a unique individual, meaning all people have their own sound.

“It’s a mix of different sounds created in the studio, created by different instruments and different individuals,” explains Prezident Brown.

On the new album he continues his pursuit as a reggae ambassador and socially conscious commentator bringing forth topics about Rastafarian faith, the importance of culture and why we should not get attached material possessions. Being able to both entertain and educate is key to Prezident Brown.

“If I’ve nothing good to say I better shut up. That’s how I’m as a person. I’m going to put thought into it and I never plan to leave a bad impression,” he says, and continues:

“I apply music to what I want to say. The melody carries the words and I use words to express myself. My thoughts and my mind. Melody is important and you have to have a flow and a pattern,” he explains, and adds:

“I don’t necessarily have any favorite subjects. I pray a lot and lots of my songs are prayers, like Rough Road.”

Even though he was raised in a Christian family and the fact that several of his songs are prayers, Prezident Brown doesn’t go to church much. Why I wonder.

“I’m the church. We must be what we are,” he states.

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Read comments (3)

Posted by rofiq on 11.23.2012

Posted by Celeste Larkin on 12.04.2012
I totally love and respect this man to the highest degree! He speaks truth and offers wisdom always. His music always lift i spirits when the I is down in the dumps or just going through a rough times. He is not only my friend but my brother!

Posted by Oscar Eybers on 02.28.2015
Maximum raspect to Prezident Brown. It has personally been a long time since I have been into an artist the way I dig his vibration *Love*

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