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Truth and Facts with Chukki Starr: Live and In Person

Truth and Facts with Chukki Starr: Live and In Person

Truth and Facts with Chukki Starr: Live and In Person

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Jessica Dore had a chance to chat with Starr about his new compilation album Most Wanted, and what it means to be a conscious reggae artist.


Although the Most Wanted tour initially excluded Bay Area dates, a situation involving a massive cloud of volcanic ash that stranded Gappy Ranks in London, an available night on Chukki Starr’s California agenda, and a certain set of ultra-resourceful DJs (Coo-Yah! Ladeez) brought Starr to the Paradise Lounge on April 21. Preceded on stage by surprise guest Mr. Easy, a Jamaican-born, New York-raised dancehall artist, followed by Winstrong, a fiercely energetic, up and coming artist hailing from South America’s tiniest country, Suriname, Starr was welcomed to the stage around midnight.

Setting foot on stage, donning black shades, with the swollen tongues of his butter-smooth, classic Nikes puffing out from the cuffs of his jeans, Starr began by blessing the set with a passionate Praise the Creator. Originally released in 2001 on his album 'Forever Shall Praise', the track is more recently featured on his own latest addition to Greensleeves/VP Records 'Most Wanted' collections. He also sang the World Jam riddim hit Hard Fi Smile, which got the whole room moving. Poised in his signature stance-hand to the temple (also see the cover of the 'Most Wanted' compilation and any live footage you can find)-he did his thing with an air of intense focus; with the concentration of one delivering an urgent, pressing message. Ahhh…The ever-soothing and yet mentally mobilizing tone of conscious reggae music.

Starr was almost meditative as he sang carefully, with conviction. He was too focused, even, to discourage a presumptuously proposed (and regardlessly imposed) guest performance by a guy from the crowd who jumped on stage to sing. If humbleness is indeed true righteousness, Chukki Starr is right on time. He continued with a heartbreaking (for us ladies, at least) rendition of Congratulate U.

Chukki Starr

What he may have disregarded in physical flair or fashion-standing simply with a simple grey zip-up hoodie and jeans complete with unbuckled belt to boot-Starr made up for with a presence and performance ripe with intensity and intention. A conscious, class act, Starr is a shining beacon of reggae for a reason.

Often referred to as one of reggae’s “hidden gems,” the perhaps underrated yet widely celebrated Chukki Starr is stepping out this year with the release of his 'Most Wanted' compilation. The latest release in Greensleeves/VP Records’ Most Wanted series (which have included “best of” collections by some of reggae’s biggest names like Yellowman, Ranking Dread, Bounty Killer, Vybez Kartel, Johnny Osbourne and Eek-a-Mouse), Chukki’s version further solidifies his top-ranking status in the conscious community.

Growing up in London and travelling back and forth between the UK and Jamaica from a young age, Starr recalls a rich diet of reggae music, particularly from the Greensleeves camp.

“The artists on Greensleeves, they were like, the biggest in reggae music. So it’s a good thing to know that I’ve reached that level and now they’ve put out an album with me. It’s a great feeling; a good achievement,” Starr said.

Dating more than a decade back to some of the first Chukki Starr recordings, 'Most Wanted' features notable tracks from two of his five full-length albums, 'Forever Shall Praise' and 'From Crime to Kodesh', both of which were released in 2001. The remaining five cuts were released as singles and on compilations, including the 1999 release, Sweet Meditation, which Starr wrote while touring for his first time in Africa.

“My experience in Africa was great. One of the best feelings I’ve ever had. It was a homecoming festival. When I landed there, there was this feeling like I had been there before. I just felt like I knew that place,” Starr said.

Like Sweet Meditation, Starr said that rather than specific religious ideologies, he subscribes to belief that there is a righteousness, which transcends the boundaries of religion, within and for us all.

“When I hit the road with my first album people wanted to know ‘how come you’re not Rasta?’ They thought that just because I was singing conscious reggae that I must be a Rasta. But no, I’m not a Rasta. I’m just talking truth and facts, for any and everybody. Prisoner, murderer, drug dealer, gangster. Righteousness for everybody. Just truth and facts. It’s really not a religious thing,” Starr said.

Starr recently released a new single titled Sell Out Dem on his own label, Starrdom. Musically quite a divergence from his larger catalogue of tracks, the song's subject still brings forth a conscious message regarding those he called "funny guys" to the dancehall. “You know, the guys that would do anything, that would put themselves at the lowest level, just to get money,” Starr said, voice bubbling over with laughter. “That’s what that song’s about.”

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Read comments (3)

Posted by Robert Roots on 09.14.2010
So I was just wondering who flew Chukki Starr out to CALIFORNIA??? I think it was UNIFIED SOUND DISTRICT/IRIE SOUND INT'L... and Im pretty sure that I backed him at all the shows... WHERES THE LOVE JESSICA DORE??? You can check me pon di controls with Mr. Starr in the series of photos @ Paradise Lounge in the far right photo. RECOGNIZE WHOS PUTTIN' IN THE REAL WORK. Don't credit other people for our work. Blessed Love as always. RASPECT. ;)

Posted by Jessica Dore on 09.15.2010
This piece was spotlighting CHUKKI STARR for his efforts puttin in the real work and plenty of love to CHUKKI STARR for his good works.

Posted by Emmanuel on 05.14.2011
I have been listening to reggae music for 32 years and I have not heard any dance hall DJ as conscious as Chukki Starr, if you want to hear any one that conscious then you have to go to roots reggae, the likes of Garnet Silk, Bushman or Luciano. Another dance hall DJ that can come close is Sluggy Ranks.

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