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Interview: Alborosie (2012)

Interview: Alborosie (2012)

Interview: Alborosie (2012)

By on - Photos by Christian Bordey - 1 comment

"I'm really attached to the reggae foundation, from the 1970s up to the 1980s"


Two years ago I travelled to Italy for (what proved to be the last Italian) ROTOTOM Sunsplash reggae festival. The priority was to catch Bunny Wailer, the Congos, Pablo Moses, U-Roy, Sly and Robbie and other ‘old school’ artists doing their thing. Little did I realise that a new young artist was to appear on stage, to wide and loud acclaim, effectively proving to be one of – if not the – highlight of the last Italian ROTOTOM. It was fitting, though surprising, that this artist should be Italian. Going from strength to strength – and deservedly securing the 2011 ‘best reggae act’ MOBO award – United Reggae was delighted to catch up with ALBOROSIE in Holland recently.


What has been your greatest achievement in life?

When I start to play reggae. That is the greatest achievement. Reggae makes me feel complete... a little bit of aggression, a little bit of revolution, spirituality, inspiration and that’s reggae.

What has been your biggest disappointment in life?

Sometime I would like to be in places with my music there where maybe I can do something for people. I’m not able to go there. Let’s say I would like to do some time in Africa, during the revolution, but sometime I can’t be there because the place is too rough So I have to fight through my music Sometime I would like myself to go places and be there with the revolution.

As one of the few reggae artists with an ‘international consciousness’, did you get any negative feedback to your song ‘America’?

Not really. I’ve been in the States performing that song, people love it. People agree with me. Especially people from Africa. So, you know like, it’s a revolution. It’s always a good revolution. Every time I sing about something it’s something that really belongs to people, so it’s people saying ‘let’s do our thing now, we need to be independent’. One time I was listening to a show in Africa through my computer and people we’re saying ‘American soldier stand down too, go back to America and let Africa be Africa’, so that inspired me to write the song.

It’s a good song.

Thank you very much.

Who is your favourite reggae artist?

Well, the teacher, Bob (Marley), can’t leave Bob! Many of them, Burning Spear, Peter Tosh, many of them. But mostly from the past. The new reggae, me and the new reggae, we’re not really compatible.

Jesus is inspiration... I see Bob Marley as a revolutionary

But you’re excellent at using the different streams of reggae?

Yes, but I always try to mix my song with a little bit of ‘old school’. So I’m really attached to the foundation, from the 1970s up to the 1980s, but we stop there.

Who is your favourite living politician?

Oh God Almighty! That is a question! No, I don’t have no politician. Is there any politician that makes you happy?


Who? No. Why Obama? Obama... the captain change, but the plane is always the same plane (laughs).

Who is your least favourite politician?

Oh! I have a long list. But the winner is Silvio Berlusconi (laughs again). He’s the champion. He’s the greatest of them all in Babylon.

Outside music, what are your main interests?

Outside music, well you know I build guitars. If I’m not in the studio or performing or whatever I build instruments. And besides that I like going fishing, you know, throw the line, looking at Kingston. The last time I catch a big fish, it was a sting ray. But I let it go because I don’t want to kill no creatures. I just do it for fun and then I let them go.

In life, who has had the greatest influence on you?

Well definitely Jesus, yes, Jesus is inspiration, the Emperor Selassie, yes? They will inspire me, and then all the revolutionaries, people like Che Guevara. Bob (Marley) is a revolutionary warrior, to me as a European, I see Bob as a revolutionary.

As a retired policeman, how did your father cope, knowing that his son was into Rasta?

My father, he was a good cop, never really troubled the youth for a spliff or nothing like that.  He was chasing the real bad man. He loves what I do. He’s my greatest fan.

My father, he was a good cop, never really troubled the youth for a spliff...

Did he travel with you in the early years?

No. He never took a plane in his life... ‘old school’!

How did he feel about you going to Jamaica?

That was tough. You know we Italians we love family, we love being together. It was tough for them. But I believe that if you are a good parent you always let go of your children, because they need to walk. They need to see the world, they need to choose what is best. When they want to come back, they will be back. Otherwise, they have the right to go and walk the world, and I did that.

Do you want a ‘chartbuster’?

AlborosieA what? No, I don’t care about that. I don’t care, like I do music from like I was this (He indicates as a child). Music has always been my life. Every single brick of my house was built with music, and I’m not interested in charts, No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, I just do what I gotta do, what I like until I can’t do it. When my work is over, I will step back. But I don’t care about charts and selling and whatever, that’s no gonna stop me from making music.

Would you like to be travelling with a brass\horns section?

I did. I’ll tell you the truth, I’ll give it to you straight - sometimes it costs. Because there are a lot of people travelling, with a lot of expenses. In summertime the budget is there, so I can have more musicians. It boils down to money at the end of the day.

What upsets you most in the music business?

The music business (itself!). Trust me, my spirituality keeps me going. The music business is atrocious. But I love music. It’s like you are together with a beautiful woman (but) she’s a troublemaker. But because she’s so beautiful that you just can’t live without her, (but) she’s a troublemaker. So you just cope with it and walk with it.

Are you satisfied with the reception to your new album – 2 Times Revolution?

Yes, of course. You know, before my album came out somebody put it on the internet. It was out there already. I hadn’t even put it out. But you know, before people like my album (I) myself like my album. So if I like it I put it out, but people love it. People have different songs that they like or whatever.

Have you experienced any resentment (as a successful white man) in reggae?

Say that again, because this is very interesting. (Question repeated). I have to tell you the truth, we had problems. We had problems of people saying things. For instance when we won the MOBO award for best reggae artist for 2011, we had problems with people saying things about the white artist and whatever. I live in Jamaica, my wife she is a black, I live in a black man country and I love everybody. So if they want to talk, like whosoever is talking, I don’t care. I play reggae music, I live in Jamaica. You know Jamaica is a tough place, so the decision to go there was a tough decision. And I’m still here playing my reggae music. My musicians are Jamaican, my manager is Jamaican, so you know, it’s all good.

Where is your wife from?

No, I say my wife? It’s my girlfriend, from Jamaica, everything from Jamaica.

What do you like most about Jamaica, where you’ve been now for a long time?

I don’t know. It’s like when you fall in love. Somebody asks you: ‘Why did you fall in love?’, I don’t know (laughs). I just fall in love. Of course, the culture, maybe, the culture, the tradition. There is, I believe, a pirate in me, a soul pirate, so it’s something from the past that’s a little bit of magic. The first time I went to Jamaica I didn’t like it. And then something happened there, somebody tell me things: ‘Your spirit is here in Jamaica, you should come back and look for it’. And I went back, I’ll never go back to Italy again (laughs).

What do like least about Jamaica?

The violence, the politics.

But you have avoided the violence?

Sometimes you’re part of it. Living in Jamaica is not easy. I was there when they fire shots. I was there when houses were burning and everything. That’s why I’m always trying to explain to my people that when I used to live in Europe and I used to play reggae music, it was not the same thing. Right now I’m there. God lives in Jamaica, but Satan lives there too. It’s a balance, so you know you don’t move between the two energies.

In past interviews you mentioned ‘Meditation’. Do you meditate daily?

Every day. Everything I do is a meditation. I meditate a lot.

Are you optimistic that cannabis will be legalised?

I enjoy myself in fighting the system. At the end of the day we’re still smoking. So they never stopped us from smoking. Ganja will be legalised when the church decides, as well as (when) the Americans decide to legalise ganja. For me, ganja is not a substance, it’s a revolution. When I go up there and sing about ganja, I’m not saying to you, you need to smoke to get high. Ganja is a plant, ganja is my culture, right, from when I start to listen to reggae music I learn that ganja is nature. So when the system is trying to fight nature, I wonder why. There must be a reason, or maybe the reason is politics. But ganja is a good revolution. I’ll keep fighting.

I give thanks to God every day for what I am doing right now... and I got every day a plate of pasta to eat. So I'm very lucky

What were you raised religion wise?

Well I was born Christian. I am still a Christian, but I’m a revolutionary Christian. So I sing Jahspel music, the gospel of Jah. So I create my own spiritualism, I don’t believe in religion, because that goes with politics and mafia. I’m a spiritualist.

Do you have any remaining ambitions in life?

You know, I give thanks to God every day for what I am doing right now, and because from day one I do music, and I got every day a plate of pasta to eat. So I’m very lucky, I’m very blessed. So I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t have plans, I don’t have... what I do right now, I live my life. One thing I know for sure, music was my life, but now my life is music. That’s all I have to say.

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Read comments (1)

Posted by african man on 04.10.2012
Very glad to read you Alborosie !! I love so much your songs. My favourite is DUNG A BABYLON very nice. I hope to see u here in Africa soon.
Jah bless and good continuation !!

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