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Interview: Suga Roy and Conrad Crystal

Interview: Suga Roy and Conrad Crystal

Interview: Suga Roy and Conrad Crystal

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"While on the tour I got up one morning with this great inspiration from the most High Jah that when I leave this tour and go back to Jamaica I should do this album"


Suga Roy & Conrad Crystal have established themselves as being one of the most solid and consistent duos in the history of Reggae music and in doing so they've managed to attract quite a bit of attention in the process. In 2007, the pair released the very nice 'Highest Grade' album on which they linked up with greats such as King Yellowman and the immortal Lee 'Scratch' Perry and on their most recent release, they've managed to outdo themseleves. 'Suga Roy, Conrad Crystal & the Great Reggae Icons' features the duo recording alongside a lineup of certified Reggae Royalty. Recently had the opportunity to ask Suga Roy & Conrad Crystal about their new album and exactly how it came to be..

On your new album, "Suga Roy, Conrad Crystal and The Great Reggae Icons", you work with some of the true pillars of Reggae music. Was it an idea to specifically do such a project as an album or was it something which developed after doing a string of singles?

Suga Roy : Going to Europe the first time on a tour with Irie Ites from France 2007, me and Conrad Crystal. While on the tour I got up one morning with this great inspiration from the most High Jah that when I leave this tour and go back to Jamaica I should do this album with all these great Icons in the reggae music. So I got a piece of paper and began to wrote down all the foundation artist that I want to appear on my album 'Suga Roy Conrad Crystal And The Great Reggae Icons'. When I came back to Jamaica I go straight to the studio and start to play some riddims and then I start to contact the artist that I want on the album.

Interestingly, besides big names like Marcia Griffiths, Lee Perry, Toots & The Maytals, U-Roy, Dennis Brown etc. there is also a remake of an old Culture tune, 'Jah Jah See Dem', alongside Gyptian who is very new by comparison. The tune was a pretty big hit, however, what was it about Gyptian that drew you to working with him, specifically?

To build on that question, when you look at Gyptian an artists from his era, the current era, are there any more of the younger artists that you'd like to work with in the future?
Suga Roy
: If you look on the back of the CD and see what the title say Tribute to Culture. This song Jah Jah See Dem by Culture it is one of my favourite song from Culture and if Culture did not past away I would approach him and ask him to sing over this song for me on this album, but because Gyptian have a sound like Culture I make him sing it over and make it a tribute to Culture.
Suga Roy : I will work with many more young artist as long as they are singing positive music.

There is also a very good tune, 'God Bless', which features not only Toots & The Maytals and Richie B, but also an artist from the States, Lil' Mo. Out of all the artists she's definitely one that stands out, but she just as definitely adds a nice vibes to the tune. How did that come about and did you get what you expected out of her effort?

Suga Roy : I link her up on the internet and I told her that I love her voice because she has a nice voice. So me, Conrad Crystal and Toots do the track and send it to her to listen to and she got excited about it. So she voiced it and sent it back to me which is a part of the first track on the album God Bless.
And I was pleased with her part on the track because if I wasn’t please with her work it wouldn’t have been on the album.

How has the reaction for the new album been so far?

Conrad Crystal : So far the response from the fans out there is great, we are receiving good commence about the album. People are crazy about it because they never received an album like this before in history of reggae music and I know this album will be going places. So all reggae music lovers make sure to get a copy at the leading record stores, you must have this album to your music collection.

You've had quite a few videos out for various tunes over the year. Can we expect more videos for tunes from the album in the future?

Suga Roy : Yes we will do new videos for songs on this album coming soon.

You two have been one of the most consistent duos in Reggae history in my opinion and have had great success with fans of cultural reggae. Do you think this album will give you a wider audience?

Suga Roy : I know this album is a good album and from you produce good works it will manifest in many places. So all the people that know good reggae music and want good reggae music they will support this album.
Conrad Crystal : I know this album has the potential to make a big difference for Suga Roy & Conrad Crystal in our musical career because people pay more attention when they hear a new collaboration with a foundation artist and the new generation artist. It’s a new thing to the ear so I know people will listen to it. People love good music and all these tracks on this album are great tracks it’s an household item.
Suga Roy : Why I do an album like this with so many veteran artists is because I am showing my respect to them because they set the foundation for us so that the new generation like us can play our part. So that is my tribute to them, it is a great think to honor some of these artist in life before death.
This album wasn’t about to get a breakthrough out there for Suga Roy / Conrad Crystal. It is just Jah inspire me to do this album and show the respect to these great people on this album, there should be more but the album could not hold everyone and if Jah speak to me to do the follow up of this album I will go back in the studio and do it too. It is only Jah alone can program me not mankind.

And speaking of those historical names, were there any links you tried to make which didn't pan out. Looking at all of the big names on this project and there're really only one or two which fit in the line, who aren't on the album, like Bunny Wailer and John Holt, did you try to make any of those combinations happen which didn't happen, but may work in the future?

Suga Roy : I know Bunny Wailer is a great Icon in the reggae industry also John Holt but in the time of making this album I never get to contact them about this project because every time I try to contact them they’re always busy outside of Jamaica. You have great artist also like Burning Spear, Steel Pulse Jimmy Cliff and many more but as I say before everyone could not hold on this album. Every artist that I contact was glad to be apart of this project, because as a new generation to approach them with this great idea everyone was excited about it.

Despite the way in which the album is constructed, with so many different voices and perspectives, do you have an overall and prevailing purpose for it? Is there one (or even more than one) main thing that you hope listeners take away from the album after listening?

Suga Roy : Well it’s a universal album, it’s for all nation of music lovers to listen to, there is no limit or boundary where this album is concern. There is a lot of great message and good inspiration that listeners can take away from this album. People are longing to hear good reggae music so this album has all you need. There is no doubt about it listening to this album is like food for the soul. No one can’t sing music or produced music for themselves, so if any one feel that they can produce or sing for themselves they will never make there mark in the music because it’s for everyone, the young and the old, as we say music has no boundary.

Finally, the album is "Sugar Roy, Conrad Crystal & The Great Reggae Icons" and we just lost a Great Reggae Icon in Yabby You. Do you have anything to say on his passing?

Suga Roy : We are sorry to know that we lost another great Icon in reggae music because he was one of the icons that people enjoyed listening to his music and watching him perform on stage. He will be miss by the music fraternity and also his fans.
My condolence goes out to his family, when I was a youth growing up in Clarendon, I use to ride on a bicycle and go watch him doing his rehearsal to go on tour, from that time it gave me courage to take on to this side of the reggae music.

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