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Interview: Beres Hammond

Interview: Beres Hammond

Interview: Beres Hammond

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"I hate to know that people use music to incite negativity. To me, music should be something to soothe the mind and uplift the soul..."

Beres Hammond is a pretty low key guy. In fact, up until this point, I’d been given the impression that the reggae veteran didn’t do interviews.

“No man,” laughed Hammond. “Ah lie dem a tell!”

Either way, it was certainly a privilege to speak to the Jamaican legend, best known for songs such as, What One Dance Can Do and There For You. Having won over a multitude of reggae fans with his smooth vocals and gorgeous love songs, 53-year-old Hammond is still going strong, as is proved with the release of his latest album, A Moment in Time.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a man who’s made a career out of romantic music would be somewhat of a real-life Casanova; hitting all the hot-spots to woo women at every given opportunity. Apparently not…

“Boy… My day to day life is boring,” Hammond reveals. “Every day, I just look forward to being in the studio. So the only light moments I have are when other musicians come around, and we talk all kinds of garbage! If you were a fly on the wall during some of our conversations, you’d probably think: dem really talk about all that foolishness?”

“Sometimes, we might talk about world politics and I can get a little deep into that, because that concerns me. But other than that, I’m very boring. You probably expected me to say, ‘We play dominoes every night!’ That comes when it comes. But other than that, it’s just the same old, same old. I love going to oldies shows too. Whenever any of those artists from the 60s are performing, I look forward to those shows so I can hear some sweet melodies.”

One wonders what a seemingly ‘traditional’ artist like Hammond makes of reggae music’s development throughout the years. In particular, does he have any thoughts on those who have come under fire for supposedly inciting violence?

“Whether it’s Jamaican music or otherwise, I don’t condone certain things,” he says. “I hate to know that people use music to incite negativity. To me, music should be something to soothe the mind and uplift the soul. Sometimes, when you’re feeling down, music has a way of lifting you up. Music also enables you express the things you might find hard to express in regular conversation. There’s nothing wrong with expressing yourself politically through music. But not in a way that’s negative or incites negativity.”

“In general, there are many young talents that I love. I can’t call all the names, but I would say thumbs up to a good 90 per cent of the new reggae talents. A lot of them are truly wonderful and I’m proud of the progress that the music has made.”

One artist that Hammond has championed is reggae star, Jah Cure. Often regarded as Jah Cure’s mentor, Hammond gave him his first break when he produced the song, King of the Jungle, a collaboration between Jah Cure and fellow dancehall artist, Sizzla.

Of course, what followed for Jah Cure was a stream of controversy when, in 1998 he was jailed for rape. Throughout his sentence, he maintained his innocence, and he went on to earn notoriety, with many protesting that he was wrongly imprisoned.

Though he was released from prison last year, the controversy still shadows him. Is Hammond still a Jah Cure fan?

“Yeah man,” he says.

Does he think Jah Cure can ever put the past behind him?

“You know… I really don’t know how to answer that. I’m not a very good judge when it comes to that kind of thing. But I hope he’s able to put it all behind him. All I know is that he’s one hell of a talent.”

Back to his own career, and Hammond considers what drew him to make mostly love songs.

“Perhaps it’s because my family consists of mostly women,” he laughs. “My mother raised seven girls. And my father…. I can’t even count the amount of girls there are on his side! So I’ve always been surrounded by women. And as a kid growing up, listening to the old 50s and 60s music, a lot of it was love songs. So I got attached to melodies and love themes from an early age.”

Does he have any advice to the younger artists on how to achieve longevity?

When I sing a song, I make sure that I love what I’m singing about. I make sure that what I sing isn’t something I’ll look back on later down the line and say: ‘I really shouldn’t have sung that.’ There’s no money you could pay me to get me to sing what I don’t wanna sing. So I would say: stay true to your heart. Avoid the type of utterances that may come back to haunt you.”

A Moment in Time is out now on VP Records

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Read comments (1)

Posted by beres junior on 03.08.2012
This man is just lovable, simple, easy to understand his message, mentor, Beres Beres Beres Beres Beres Beres keep giving us the best, may god bless you, father the world loves you, n thank you, thank you, pull the vibes that you keep playing Beres play lot more n keep on doing your things yea, nothin is over until its done so i believe you will achive alot more in life stay longer father n strong as ever one love.

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