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Interview: Nesbeth

Interview: Nesbeth

Interview: Nesbeth

By on - Photos by Miss Windy - Comment

"It doesn't matter where you are from, who you are, you can be what you want to be, just do whatever necessary to reach there!"

Sampler

Even if Nesbeth is present on the Jamaican music scene since 1993, it is only the last few years that he became more apparent, and nowadays that he is in the rights hands of a new management team, he is everywhere to be heard in the island. As he says himself, his professional carreer started in 2007.

A humble youth from the innercity, a thoughtful person very aware of others around him, conscious that his voice is the voice of many, he is bringing out a rich human experience.His powerful expression as a storyteller, and the way he can still have an inch of humour in the middle of desperate situations, made me feel like meeting him for an interview. What I found quite remarkable about his way to communicate with an interviewer, even before the interview, it is how responding he is, how he is taking any opportunity seriously, and how he is thankful for it.

Nesbeth

Nesbeth never moves alone, but always with "Team Nesbeth", composed of his road manager and 2 faithfull friends, one of them with a big camera. I met Nesbeth in 2 different locations in Kingston, for a long interview to explore his lyrics, his message and his carreer. The biggest part of this interview is taking place in Arnett Gardens, where he grew up, on a breezy October day.

In this interview, he is giving us some clues to understand ghetto life better, but Nesbeth's understanding of life is reaching beyond the ghetto world, it is merely an human experience, no matter the race, the country, the social class. He is a very calm person, very good listener, he knows what he wants and how to make it clear. I was not surprised he could keep around him a set of dedicated people like "Team Nesbeth", because of his human qualities. It is no doubt for me that he is on the right path to success and achievement, cause the conditions are there for that, he has the right attitude and understanding, and people involved in the music business with him will definitely go the extra-mile for him because their relationship seems to be more than pure business, there is a huge mutual appreciation there.

This interview took place in October 2014, one month before the release of his Victory EP release. New songs to discover from this ghetto storyteller that delivers a conscious social reggae message.

Good day, Nesbeth, thank you for receiving us today here in Kingston, and for answering our questions.

Blessed Love. Selassie I.

Where are you born in Jamaica, and where did you grow up?

I was born at the Kingston Jubilee Hospital, and I grew up in Kingston in the innercity, in communities like Waterhouse, which is Kingston 11, Maxfield avenue, Kingston 13, and also in Arnett Gardens and Trenchtown.

Do you think that all these places in the innercity, like Arnett Garden or Concrete Jungle or Trenchtown, could become historical places because of their music legend, and be developed in a positive way from that status?

Yes, I honestly believe so, cause there are many stars coming from the innercity,so there must be something about the soul, the environment, as much as it is known to be tough and hard, but out of the hardest times, we can produce the best of the best.

Why human expression is different in ghettos than in richer places?

Innercity people are mostly less fortunate than others, so they can't afford most of what they want, so they have no other choice but to live with whatever they have, and make themselves comfortable.

Can it develop good qualities in a human being?

Well, basically, this is happening, but the test of time can answer that question better!

In the roughest times, you have to speak with your inner person, you have to seak and find and ask yourself "What can navigate me through this situation?", and then you don't have another alternative than to turn to the Most High, the Creator.

In the roughest times, you have to speak with your inner person, you have to ask yourself "What can navigate me through this situation?"

How did you start to get attracted to music?

I grew up listening to my mama playing songs on a little stereo system inside her house, she was not missing any opportunity to go on the road to buy the latest songs, for example from Yellowman and all these icons, she was always buying the best of the best of the latest music. I was watching her face while she was playing the records, observing her reactions, her expressions, words can't even express the way she was feeling! My father also was playing a little mouth organ along the music', anytime he had the opportunity. I was seeing so much joy on their faces because of the music, it meant so much to me!

At some point the family went through hard times, my mama was in a problem with the law, and my father was not in Jamaica, so I had to go and stay with one of my father's friend in St Catherine, in Glenford. Rest in Peace, mister CHIN! He had a sound system, PREMO INTERNATIONAL, where they were playing and singing over songs from artists of the innercity who were like the stars in this rural community. I realised that I grew up in this musical atmosphere of the innercity, so I never had to practice this, it was like my natural element because of my upbringing.

I guess all these pieces put together helped me to decide that music was my way. I tried many jobs, but for some reasons they did not work out.

In that sound system, is it the first time you have been holding a mic?

I can't remenber clearly, cause I was so much over the places, anywhere music was going on. I was also playing, in front of my mirror, holding a mic and trying a song, preparing myself for days like these, always seeing myself at a worldscale.

I was playing, in front of my mirror, holding a mic and trying a song, preparing myself for days like these, always seeing myself at a worldscale

Where does your name "Nesbeth" come from?

This name was given to me by my daughter, it has some spiritual vibes and gives me a good african energy.

You are recording since 1993. Why did you not release an official album as yet?

All these years, I was like trying, feeling the vibes and the energy about being an artist, setting my goals, it was more like a learning process. I was moving around people that did not have enough knowledge for that, or maybe some had it, but were too busy.

In fact, I have been starting music professionaly only in 2007.

During all these years, you have been probably learning a lot?

More and more. I was learning about mankind in a whole. If I have to address to the people, I have to know about people mind. I have to know what I have to do to make them understand what I am saying. I have to do also my own research to find out what is going on in the music industry itself, and from there, move back to the people.

In 2007, Flava Mc Gregor produced 10 songs for you, is he the producer you are working with today?

No, he was the producer linked with my previous manager.

And nowadays, who is managing you?

Entertainment Soul, a London-based company, the manager is Shanika Eccentrik Dobson, a patriotic Jamaican.

Can we say that these songs released in 2007 show your maturity as an artist, are they the product of your musical experience since 1993?

Most definitely. And nowadays it gives me a different vibe, because I know that the promotion is there.

Is promotion important for an artist?

Of course! An artist is like a brand, and for that brand to be known by the public in general, it takes a lot of work, and mainly promotion, that is the key. Promote a stone in Jamaica, and people will fly all the way from Africa to come take a picture with it!

Are you associated with Downsounds Records or Shocking Vibes when they are organizing their shows in Jamaica?

Downsound records is a part of the promotion of STING, but I have been working on STING before they even exist. I know mister Bogdanovitch, the chairman, and sometimes we say a word or two for strenghtening the musical link. I did a song for Shocking Vibes, so some used to believe that Shocking Vibes signed Nesbeth, but that is not true, it was just like a family bound.

Do you have a musical family?

My only musical family is Team Nesbeth. It is fair to say that I have to leave my heart to them, many times when I stop along the way, they are my encouragement in going forwards. It is like a family unit.

They believe in you

And I believe in them.

You have a way to tell a story from a character point of view in your songs. For example, in "A Nuh Suh Mi Waa Live", you are talking as if you were a gunman, and in "Board House", as if you were the one that just lost his house. Did all this really happen to you, why do you feel like saying "I"?

If I have to address the people, I have to find the best possible way to do it. I will not rule out that I lived some of these experiences personally, but some others, I just watched them like a movie, from a second-hand point of view, unfolding in front of my eyes; therefore, I can really and truly put them together. But for the record, let me state this clearly: I wasn't a gunman, and will never be, cause I think a gunman is a lower version of one being a revolutionary, he is taking up a gun for the sake of taking up a gun, but me I am willing to stand up and fight for equal rights and justice, for the benefit of the next generations to come.

I want to stand up and let them know that, we as a people, we know what we want and they should stop imposing things on us.

Who is "they"?

When I say "they", I mean the system on a whole.

What is your personal definition of "Babylon system"?

This is a system that they put together to form their own belief, based on what they want, what they think you should get as a people, and I am strongly opposing a lot of things they are doing, but then that is their system.

So we as a people have to develop a system within our own circle, and enforce it, just like they enforce their own.

For the people that do not have a ghetto experience, it is difficult to understand why your house can burn in a gang war like that, can you explain us how this can happen?

If I used the term "gang war", that is because a lot of people internationaly know what it is. The less fortunate people that are living in the innercity sometimes are uneducated to the point that they tend to settle their differences from a physical point, and so when they are getting physical, it is like they are out of their thinking cap, therefore they can do anything at all. If there is a feud between somebody from one community and somebody from another, some guys decide they will be going over the next side, and if they don't see whoever they are going for, they may tend to take out their anger on the houses, whether it is board house or concrete structure, they just do what makes them feel happy and then they go away.

In the song "Board House", it is a war that is going on, and you have that house right there, you are not a part of what is going on, you are just a part of the community, but it is just that your house is at the wrong place.

Are there a lot of gang wars still going on in the innercity?

Yes, gang war is still going on, but the modern type of it, and the less fortunate are still bearing it, cause they don't have no choice, trying to live with this uncomfortable situation.

Where can you find the strenght to make yourself comfortable within the uncomfortable?

You have to have Hope, you have to build that within you. There is still this talking in and around the world that you will not be a better person based on where you are from, but often we have seen people evolving from desperate situations, and these people that became great leaders coming from an uncomfortable situation are an inspiration for me.

Who, for example?

The prime minister is an example, and some of the governmental body, they are from the innercity, they could study and get a college degree, someway somehow, they have gone a certain mileage. That again can show you "It doesn't matter where you are from, who you are, you can be what you want to be, just do whatever necessary to reach there!"

In the song "Guns Out", you are saying "ina mi bed pon mi belly mi cry". Why do you cry exactly?

NesbethAs I said, in the innercity, they tend to settle differences from a physical point.When you are coming back from work, trying to make two ends meet and get some food for your family, you open your door, great your relatives, have a bath, and you are going to bed, thinking about what you are going to do tomorrow to make yourself a better person. While lying down in the bed to get some rest, suddenly all you can hear is the sound of guns barking. All this comes from the innercity youths, some of them you grew up with. They want to demonstrate who is the toughest person by shooting at each other. Many times bodies are left on the ground. Police intervene, you hear different types of guns. You are no more able to think about going to work tomorrow, to make your life better, you know that a shot can come through your window, through your door, because gunshots have no eyes. It is so traumatizing that you want the moment to disappear.

Then when everything is concluded, you are thinking about it a little, but you don't have so much time to really think about it, because you still have your life to shape, so you have to go to work tomorrow morning, to do whatever necessary to bring back food on the table. Maybe you will talk about all this sometimes in your spare time, but that's all.

You can cry, but you don't see tears, that is how deep it is, as Chronixx will say "they see your smile, but they don't know what you are smiling about."

It is like, you are this joyful person, but still you have had such a harsh experience, that sometimes you can't let go of it. So there are times when you have to call up to the Most High and say "Allright, whatever happened was supposed to happen, so guess what, get up, pick up the pieces, and do what you have to do."

What could do the government for the innercity?

The politicians believe in dividing and ruling, so if they are going to come forwards, it means division. It is not a good thing for them to educate the mass, because when you educate the mass, chances are that you will be walking by yourself; so you have to have the people in a certain corner, so that the people can't think for themselves, and when you have them in that position, whatever you say, they will follow!!

It cannot be a politician when it comes to do something for the innercity, but more a saviour!

But can personal initiatives bring a change?

We as people have to sit down, and find ourselves. We definitely have to find our roots, our culture, what it is that took us where we are, and what we can do to make our life a better life for the years to come.But first and foremost, we have to find ourselves.

For example, the gunman in "A Nuh Suh Mi Waa Live", how does he want to live?

He wants to live a life where he does not have to be in fear of nothing at all, where he does not have to be feeling for food, where when he wants to do something, he can go ahead doing it. He wants to live a life where he does not have to be thinking that he has to fight his brothers and sisters to get a dollar.

If you have to live amongst people, it is best to stop studying individuals and start studying how to live amongst people

In a ghetto environment, by living closer to people, do you learn more about them?

I learn from people in general, there are no borders or barriers in learning from people, we are human, and so we learn as much as we can about human;cause it is not everything we like that others like.Personally, I understand the innercity people to a point that I can represent them, and I think I understand mankind to a point that I can stand up and speak out on behalf of mankind himself.

In a ghetto, if you know there is a gunman next door, how do you socialize with him?

If you have to live amongst people, it is best you stop studying individuals and start studying how to live amongst people. I used to study individuals, and it drove me to a point where Inever wanted to go, cause I would have lived my entire life studying people. Nowadays, I just study how to live amongst people and I try to accept people for who they are when I reason with some of them, to see how best I can try to tell them to turn a new page, how brighter a future can be there for them. But sometimes when you listen to their reasoning, you have the impression their mind is bent one way, and you just have to leave them to do what they want to do. To study how to live amongst people, you have to be navigated by the Most High, because that, you can't do it all by yourself.

In the song "Friends For Sale", you are saying that you give money even to people that "cut your throat", why?

Basically, it is like you were saying "Forgive them, cause they don't know what they have done". It is a situation of survival. Maybe they have been negative towards you, but still if they want something to eat, you will give them, you will still be there for them if they reach out to you, or if you see they need help; because you know their mind is not developed that much for them to know what they are doing.

Living in a ghetto, does it develop compassion for people?

It has to do with the individual. I cannot speak generally, but personally. Living in a ghetto made me have much dreams and inspirations, that is what moulded me to be the calm person I am today.

Are you a man of peace?

Most definitely.

Can you give me some advice on how to respond to people that are coming continuously to beg something in the streets?

It depends on who you are as an individual. If you are an aggressive person, you will deal with aggressivity. If you are a calm person, then you will seek ways and means that are calm. Personally, I don't really like the idea to give to people that are always going to come back, so I try to give them like a start, so they can make something out of it to feed their family, and then, they can move on to give somebody else a start.

But the person that always come and beg, how to deal with it?

Try to give them some advice that can make them a better person.Obviously they are doing something that they got so caught up doing, that they don't even realize that this situation is not really healthy.

You will have to reason with them, see where they are coming from, what is their mindset, see how best you can communicate whatever you have to communicate to them, because the last thing you want is to spend one or two hours trying to do something for them, and then realize when you walk away, that they still do not understand a word of what you said.

Could you have been a pastor or a preacherman?

I am an advocate of peace. I am a revolutionnary, so I will fight if the time for fighting presents himself, and I will fight for a reasonable cause. I will fight for the nation going forwards, I will fight for the generations to come. I am here for the people, Selassie I warrior!

What is your message?

I try to reach out for my brothers and sisters, not only for the black nation, but for all human beings on a whole, I want them to stop saying that there is more negative than positive in this World, I want to tell them: "Be the change, do something, do more than come to live and go!"

I try to reach out for my brothers and sisters, not only for the black nation, but for all human beings on a whole, to tell them "Be the change, do something, do more than come to live and go

You are quoting your granny and your mummy in your songs, I suppose they gave you a lot of good principles?

I would not be there if Mama Gloria never had unprotected sex! It sounds a way, but that's the truth! We all come through unprotected sex, you know! Yes, I look up to Mama Gloria-she is a deceased now-because, most of my life, she was there, my dad had to go away at times to look for food, and sometimes it was taking him very long to return. On such journeys, Mama Gloria was always there.

As I said, you have to study and know where you are coming from, respect your elders, know your heritage, that is the way you are going to know where you reach.

Can you explain to us what is an "ole ganga lee"?

An "ole ganga lee" is looked upon as someone unruly, but then, when you hear somebody say that someone is unruly, are you just taking what the person is saying or do you want to find out by yourself? In the way I am using "ole ganga lee", it is to show that i will not take anything from anyone, I have a mind of my own, and I will stand up and seek within I and I to find out where rights and wrongs are concerned; and if you are imposing something I am uncomfortable with, then it gives me the right to rebel. An "ole ganga lee" is someone that is standing for what he is living and fighting for what he is believing. It has to start with you as an individual.

The revolution starts with you?

It does not start from an external point, the external point is the next step, but it has to start with you and the cause you are fighting for.

Louie Culture is one of your favorite artists? Who are your favorite artists?

Yes, Louie Culture is a good artist, an artist that really stands up, with great songs, as Bob Marley, Jacob Miller, Dennis Brown.

Old school!

Yes, with a little blend of the new school, like Chronixx and this type of artist, Sizzla Kalonji, Capleton, Anthony B.

Why did you choose "Taste Victory" as your promotion song?

It is the company that I am working with now, Entertainment Soul. This is the first song I did for them, and they are just doing what a company is supposed to do when they sign an artist.

"Taste Victory" is a song that is showing a new aspect of Nesbeth?

It is not even new, it is the mindset that I have from long ago, I just got to put it out as far as a song is concerned, I was always believing that there were better days to come, and besides this I went the extra mile to work and make sure that I put the blocks in place for such things to happen.

So the way is as important as the victory?

Everything is important in its own way, the way to Victory cannot be the same as reaching Victory, there are different vibes and energies, but if you are not on the journey, you won't get there, so the way is very much important.

How many songs will be on the EP you are preparing?

Nesbeth - Victory EP5 or 6 songs, for Entertainment Soul Records. Bless up Shanika!

In which studio are you recording this EP, is it in Jamaica?

At Mixing Lab, in Kingston, mostly.

In February 2010, you have been hosting the show "A nuh suh mi waa live", in Arnett Gardens, was it right here where we are staying, at the football club?

In this community, but in a different section, a block far from here.

Why did this show not become a yearly event?

It is because of my engagement, you have to have that time to put in the work until it becomes the product you want to see, it is not about just putting out a show.

Does it not belong to the development of these communities to host reggae shows sometimes?

Of course! It is not like I am not keeping it back, but I have so much things to do, for example people like yourself come for interviews, etc. I have to be inside and outside Jamaica. I am getting together a team that will be able to really deal with that kind of things.

You plan to do it again then?

Of course, it will return, you are going to hear about it!

What are the shows where you will perform in the following months, in Jamaica and abroad?

We are thinking about STING, name it, REBEL SALUTE, name it also, cause there have been contacts with the management already for that, and 2 tours as well are being discussed, in the United States, in 12 states, and another tour in Europe, this is still pending, but I can tell you, I have a busy schedule ahead!

Where can we follow Nesbeth on the internet, what are your links?

You can go to www.nesbethreggae.com, that is my website. My Twitter is https://twitter.com/DJNesbeth. My instagram is nesbethreggae. My Facebook is Nesbeth Greg.

Do you have a message for the reggae fans that are coming to visit UnitedReggae.com?

The word says it all: UnitedReggae.com is about Unity! And Unity is strenght, and strenght is what we need to move from the point we are at this moment to the next level.

So visit UnitedReggae.com, and make a phone call to your friends to tell them to come look too!

What I really want to leave with you out there, these are the 4 D that helped Nesbeth to be the person that he is:
- DISCIPLINE
- DETERMINATION
- DEDICATION
- DESIRE

Thank you very much, Nesbeth, for receiving us and giving us some of your time.

You are most welcome, and thank you for coming to search for me and for liking my songs to the point that you wanted an interview!

Blessed Love from Nesbeth!

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