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Interview: Richie Spice (2011)

Interview: Richie Spice (2011)

Interview: Richie Spice (2011)

By on - 11 comments

"I had to fight, fight and fight the fight until people started to record me. I was like one man against the world"


Richie Spice is one of the 21st century’s most warmly regarded cultural reggae singers. Born Richell Bonner in St Andrew, Jamaica, to a highly musical family (his siblings include Spanner Banner and Pliers) he first found fame with the lovers single Grooving My Girl, produced by Abyssinians helmer Clive Hunt. He joined Fifth Element Records in 2004, resulting in breakout second album 'Spice In Your Life', which led to a distribution deal with VP. In 2005 he hired an unknown singer named Shauna “Etana” McKenzie to sing backing vocals on tour – giving her the exposure to join him as one of reggae’s international stars. Now no longer with Fifth Element, Spice is due to drop his fifth long player, produced mainly by Penthouse, the 'Book Of Job' on 13th March. A shy, humble individual, who prefers action to words, Richie Spice’s music, sung in a raw almost-about-to-crack voice, carries this same simple honest quality. The downside of his outlook is getting him to discuss what comes so naturally can be an uphill struggle. Angus Taylor tried to improve on his last chat with Mr Spice about his previous album 'Gideon Boot' in 2008 – speaking to Richie in Jamaica about his highly anticipated new disc…

Richie Spice

Your last album Gideon Boot was inspired by the book of Judges. This one was named after the Book of Job. Why is this part of the bible significant?

The reason I chose that name is because The Book of Job brings back a memory of the type of music that Richie Spice sings. The music I sing is always at a slow pace and over the years I have never changed no matter the ups and downs of the music. It always remains the same. The type of music I am doing is the real music - the type of music that can inspire and uplift the world.

The type of music I am doing is the real music - the type of music that can inspire and uplift the world

In terms of both lyrics and music?

In terms of lyrics and music, but in terms of long suffering in the music business also. The same type of tribulation that Job went through in his time is the same thing that comes back in this time. So I chose that name for the album Richie Spice - Book Of Jobto let the people know there is nothing new under the sun and the world is a cycle so everything that goes around comes right back around.

Can you give me an example of the tribulation you've gone through in the music business?

I've been in the music business for a few years, so a long time and you go through a lot of things. At one time for years no one would record me so I had to fight, fight and fight the fight until people started to record me. And when people started to record me, being out there in the music business there was no one to represent me so I was like one man against the world. No presentation, no promotion, no management, nothing at all. A lot of things, a long story, but I don't spend much time lamenting on it because a long story is short also.

You started out being produced by Clive Hunt. For the last album you worked with Bobby Digital. And this time you worked with Donovan Germain at Penthouse mainly (as well as Shane Brown and Lenky). You like to work with veteran producers don't you?

It's a great vibration to work with both Bobby Digital and Donovan Germain because these are two people in the music business with a lot of experience. So what I don't know they can suggest it but what they don't know I can suggest also. We all act together to make it work out. They are professional and they understand the music production-wise because they have been in the music for a long period of time. I got a lot of teaching from people in the music business who are well recommended in the music fraternity. Clive Hunt was the first person I started to record with and he taught me a lot so I learned to back up myself and help myself also.

We need more singers out there to sing the music for the people

I want to ask you about a couple of younger artists who are doing well today. What do you think of Romain Virgo who also works with Penthouse, and of Etana who you helped with her early solo career?

Romain Virgo is a young artist who is also doing well and I appreci-love him because he is a young singer coming up and we need more singers out there to sing the music for the people. So it's a great vibes and he is a great youth. And Etana is a great vibration because we love people with ambition and she is a very ambitious lady. She was doing backup for us but she wanted to do her own thing. She has a great voice and she wanted to do things by herself so what could I do? I had to let her go and let her be free and I feel happy for her also.

Why did you decide to cover Randy Crawford’s Street Life as My Life and put your own lyrics to it?

Richie SpiceStreet Life is a song I have been listening to for a long time and I love the melody and the whole vibe so I said to myself, "I would like sing a song like that one day". So when I came up with the lyrics, all the lyrics were about my life that I've lived out there in street as I grew up. Everything I say in that song is reality. Truths and rights. So I put it together, because I loved the melody of Randy's song and added my spice to it so it sounded nice and people have accepted it to the fullest.

Tell me about your experiences in Africa that led to the song Legal. Can slavery ever be forgiven or forgotten?

I was asked to perform in Gambia or Senegal. The promoter took us to this place called Goree Island where all the slaves were kept [before being transported to the Caribbean and America] and the tour guide took us around and showed us certain things and tribulations that were taking place in those times. So it really made me feel a certain way in myself to know that that was what people went through and I put the words together because the tour guide told me, "I'd like you to write something about this, man". So from there the song just came naturally through natural inspiration and natural vibration through what I had seen had taken place and seen demonstrated. I don't think the world will forget about slavery but I think they will forgive. I think people can always forgive but I don't think they can forget because that is their history.

I don't think the world will forget about slavery but I think they will forgive

There’s a whole series of songs devoted to the ladies – Mother Of Creation, Black Woman and Serious Woman. Take me through the different views of women and why you put them all together in a row.

(laughs) Well, Serious Woman is a song where I encourage a daughter in herself. A serious girl is a girl who takes no bullshit from anybody - who stands up for herself, knows herself and holds her pride and dignity in that meditation. Black Woman still endorses the ladies and lets them know, "Be yourself, know yourself, understand who you are, and never try to change or rearrange. Never try to copy the next person". Mother Of Creation reminds the ladies that there is a balance where the ladies are the producers of the earth. Rastafari endorses the ladies 100% because I love my mother like I love myself. She gave me the courage and the urge to endorse the ladies out there.

You also have a series of three songs about God to close the album.

I'm a godly person, I believe in God and I've always believed there is a creator. So I always take my time out to serve him and when I can encourage another person to serve him and know the creator and praise no idols, I will try my best to make it possible and send the words out there for whoever has ears to hear.

One of your biggest tunes from last year was Got To Be Strong with Hawaii's J Boog for Gramps Morgan's Dada Son. How did that happen? How come it's not on the album?

Well one day Gramps from Morgan Heritage called me and said he had a young man by the name of J Boog and he would like us to do a combination together. I went to the studio and heard the rhythm and the song just came up - just like that. Then he demoed his part and it was a natural vibes. I would like to put that on my next album because it's a great song.

When I can encourage another person to know the creator and praise no idols, I will try my best to send the words out there for whoever has ears to hear

Reggae music is made by people around the world now. Is there a danger as some media have suggested, that Jamaica may not reap the rewards of its own music?

It's a great feeling and a good vibration because it's so nice to know reggae music is reaching out to the people and they are accepting it to the fullest and loving it. So I wouldn't really term it that way. Because it started out here in Jamaica so others have to look on the root of where it started to grow from. What happens is, Jamaica is the factory for Jamaican music. Every day you find ten new artists arrive in Jamaica spiritually and musically strengthen those who were there before. The only thing is they don't really give the respect to the original those artists and still accept the younger youth as well. It's more like they forget about the artists who were there before and check the new thing that's going on. Richie SpiceThey just keep moving on because that's what happens. So I wouldn't say reggae is not accepted because here is where it started.

You played at the Raggamuffins Festival on Feb 20th with some foundation artists like Bunny Wailer, Half Pint and Horace Andy. How did that feel?

Oh my gosh it feels so great. It's always a joy to work amongst the veterans because I am a person who is always learning and the veterans have a lot to teach. It's always a pleasure to watch them perform, listen to their words and hear what they have to say. As a little youth growing up every Sunday we used to listen to Bob Marley and the Wailers, Burning Spear, Peter Tosh, Freddie McGregor, Gregory Isaacs and father Beres Hammond -  all those people grew me with their music and their works. I love every artist and respect them also, so I love the youth who come up same way. I love my work that I'm doing.

Do you have a message for Richie Spice fans?

More life and more blessings. Love yourself. Accept yourself for who you are. You are your brothers' and your sisters' keepers. Love god and live. Keep supporting Richie Spice and good music always.

Love yourself. Accept yourself for who you are. You are your brothers' and your sisters' keeper

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Read comments (11)

Posted by kelly smart on 03.11.2011
Richie Spice has great thing going for him. He is so bless.

Posted by stacey-ann on 03.11.2011
Satta massagana... King I give thanks for your matchless life... I appreci-love you and your music and I support you full hundred... You sing music to uplift the people and your vibes keep me going.... I'm waiting for this new album to drop... Till then... More love more life.

Posted by Danison on 03.19.2011
Na, na, na, na, na, na, yeah...
Big up Richie. I love your music. Ghetto girl, Take it easy, Earth a run red, etc

Posted by Eddy on 04.12.2011

Posted by Jah-Seed Nthala on 04.13.2011
Your muzik has been a great inspiration to the Malawian yutes and Africa as Nation.... Big up to you and Jah guide and bless you wif more life..... MPINGWE MASSIVE REVOLUTIONARY FROM MALAWI!!! MORE LIFE

Posted by tadious takawira on 05.23.2011
You got a sweet voice. Your videos r gud. You are not only a musician Richie, you are a poet also. Jah bless

Posted by Kyeyune stanley.kysta on 05.26.2011
Mi seh more life ah only weh need fi exploit di fruits of JAH inna yuh. Nuff love... AFRICA WE LOVE! Bless up.

Posted by salifu spice on 07.06.2011
Banner family jah bless u all Richie Spice.

Posted by De NAVIGATOR on 11.06.2011
What's up man, Jah bless ya, you great, l love ya music, wanna be great buddy ,wanna be your friend, wanna learn more. More about true rasta, love ya, Jah bless, my mail address is, hope to read ya please.

Posted by Samwel Okwach on 03.08.2012
I just want Richie Spice to invite me in his band.

Posted by musa on 04.25.2014
Richie i don't have nothing to say but plz keep on sending us the messages bro plz tanx and have a bless more life i love u Richie.

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