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Interview: Naâman

Interview: Naâman

Interview: Naâman

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"If you have that fire inside of you, you are a part of reggae music"

Sampler

Naâman – France’s rising reggae star feels free in Jamaica

Naaman

French youthful singer and singjay Naâman started his music career in 2010 and has since dropped a mixtape, an album and several successful singles. Now he’s about to release his second album Rays of Resistance, a set scheduled for release in October. I had a chat with him about his passion for reggae, his love for Jamaica and his new album.

Naâman is one of the fastest rising stars on the thriving French reggae scene. His balanced mix of bouncy hip-hop and groove-oriented reggae is a tasty cocktail and one that got him voted as Revelation of the Year by French Reggae Victories in 2013.

But let’s take it from the beginning. Naâman’s parents are big music buffs and when he grew up they played jazz, rock and blues around his house. His father also had a band where he sang and played guitar. Naâman discovered reggae at the age of 12 and just as many other kids he listened to Bob Marley and he was especially fond of Uprising.

“I fell immediately in love with the whole concept – a rebel, singing his faith on the heaviest rhythms I've ever heard. Even to this day, it has never left me,” explains Naâman.

He soon got into music himself and started singing covers of reggae legends like Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs and Freddie McGregor.

“At the same time, some friends and I established Natural B Sound System and we started to organize dances in my hometown Dieppe. We played vinyl and promoted reggae as a social movement. I was the artist in the crew, so I performed in all kinds of settings with different crowds,” says Naâman.

Dropped out of school

The music business is tough and fiercely competitive. And it’s hard making a living on music. But Naâman wanted to give it a try, even though his parents wanted him to go to school and get a degree.

“I think they were scared. It’s difficult to imagine their son trying to live his dream and finally end up with nothing. So I tried to find a different interest. I moved to a bigger city and started learning different things, but music was my biggest interest and instead of going to school I spent my nights on open mic sessions,” he says, and continues:

“After two years I decided to stop wasting time in class and get full time into my passion. I was so much into it that my parents accepted it and even helped me to push it sometimes. Today they are proud of what I do and happy being able to understand what life wanted for me.”

Naaman

Love is the answer

When asked what motives him when making music Naâman replies love. He sees love as the root of everything in his life.

“I want to tell the world that everyone has the full potential of love. There’s no need to be afraid when you know who you are,” he says, and adds:

“I want to give the youths a positive view of themselves. To tell them that life has a plan for each and every one. We have to reconnect ourselves and restore the confidence that the system has made us lose.”

“It moved my feet even before I felt them moving”

And the genre that Naâman has chosen as his vehicle for spreading love is reggae. And for him, it’s all about the groove.

“The bass lines are amazing and the rhythms are smooth enough to talk to your soul. I didn’t choose reggae, it moved my feet even before I felt them moving. Today, I don’t really play the roots reggae that I love, but the soul of this music is felt in every track we produce,” he explains.

Naâman sees reggae as rebel music. It’s conscious music. A genre that promotes education, spirituality and human rights.

“When capitalism are taking over nations, reggae stands firm,” he believes, and continues:

“I know the power of this music because I’ve been deeply touched by the message of reggae as a child and it changed my life. So naturally, I move in reggae music and I believe in it.”

Balances different influences

His new album Rays of Resistance is potent and explosive, but still offers smoother and more soul oriented jams. There are plenty of strong melodies and catchy choruses and Naâman has a rhythmic flow when riding the pulsating rhythms.

It’s a natural follow-up to his debut album Deep Rockers – Back a Yard, a set mainly produced and recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, by Fatbabs at the legendary Harry J studio together with musicians such as Sam Clayton, Stephen Stewart, Dalton Browne and Sly Dunbar.

“My new album matches exactly who I am. I’ve been travelling a lot since my first visit to Jamaica and my first experience in the studio. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, and for the first time we had enough time to produce it like we want it to be,” he says, and continues:

“It’s a good balance between different influences. We've been exploring what we love and we are firmly rooted in reggae.”

Free in Jamaica

Naâman has been in Jamaica several times and Jamaica helped him to find confidence in his music.

“I remember the first time I went to Trenchtown [a part of Kingston] when I was 21. We parked the car, put on some riddims real loud and I started freestyling with local artists in front of 30 youths that were amazed. I realized that no matter where you come from, if you have that fire inside of you, you are a part of reggae music,” he says, and concludes:

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Jamaica. I've been performing there, mostly around Kingston and I keep coming back because of the special vibe. I love living in a small house on the beach close to Kingston. I even wrote my new album in Jamaica, alone in that house. My soul is free when I’m in Jamaica. The nature inspires me and the wind whispers deep reflections. Jamaica is great for me!”

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