With Freshmen Friday it's always been extremely important to conduct casual conversations that truly mirror the present and document for the future, all the while exposing and representing our culture. These conversations are typically held in my studio or the interviewees place, but as summer swiftly approaches we've been getting out of the house and exploring a lot more. And thankfully so! Or else we wouldn't be able to bring you this gem, slightly out of the ordinary.. Below is a behind the scenes conversation that future Freshmen Friday feature Gabija Mitchell conducted with Jamaican musician Protoje on Miss Lily's Radio.
P - Let me tell you about who can you call and the second verse especially… the thing about when you do the type of music I do you're expected to be righteous and perfect and an image of perfection. But I'm a man and I make enough mistakes, I'm a man of this world. There's enough things I go through and stuff I feel that maybe you would say oh you shouldn't sing about that! But if I don't hear myself expressing it, if I don't hear my words how do I improve? So that verse when I say
I've seen empires fall and wither down to dust and all the money in the world it could not lift them up. The most brilliant of ornaments crumbled down to rust because they put their faith in lust and disregard the trust. Hell, I know the rush. I've had the feeling take me over, the power in my hand when all the band over my shoulder.
You feel like you have this power… standing in front of three hundred thousand people and your brother is behind you playing music and you have this mic in your hand and you say yeah and you hear 300,000 people say YEAH! It will do something to you if you're not careful, you know? The bands of money coming in will change the ones around you. Be wise ya know because it cannot stop you getting older. But still… like even knowing all of that… But still I admit that I get caught up in the game. I've seen the legends do it, naturally I did the same. So I'm rolling 'round the city Miss Jamaica there with me.
Earth there pon my platter, knowing all of this nuh matter.
And that was an influence from watching the Bob (Marley) documentary and drawing the parallel between his life and my life. So when I say I saw the legends do it, naturally I did the same I saw Bob Marley do it up, travel the world, having Miss Jamaica… you aspire to these things when you're twelve, thirteen years old because you think this is what success means. And then you see him have something like that at the peek of his career and then he has to leave the flesh and leave all of it behind. So you know certain things don't really matter so I had to express stuff like that and be free about those things. So that's why that song is my favorite song.
GM - So questions, I have to do this, it's Miss Lily's I represent a lot of beautiful ladies and a lot of them have asked me if there's a little love floating around in your heart?
P - There's always love in my heart!
GM - A love for them to take (laughs)
P - I know the songs on this album in terms of matters of the heart are kind of sketchy because there's Love Gone Cold, Girl Why Don't You Answer to Your Name? and Styling. So these three songs dealing with the love idea is representing a time in my life, so moving forward we'll go in to more positive songs! (laughs)
GM - How do your parents feel about your music career?
P - My Mom and Dad are very supportive of what I do. I dropped out of school and wanted to do music and I wanted Mom to manage me, I guess she didn't think I was that good until she heard some material and realized I have a skill and she was like if you really want to do this you'll have to put everything in it. We (Rasta's) are very free with our children and making them follow their hearts and instinct.
GM - Where did the term Reggae Revival come from?
P - The term revival actually came from a friend of mine who was fascinated with the Harlem Renaissance of the '20s and '30s in New York, he could go and research the Harlem Renaissance because there was a word that identifies it and he was like there needs to be something that can be identified by media all over the world. He's very savvy like that and the word he has is the revival. And that's how the whole term kind of even came up.
GM - So Jesse Royal and Chronixx caught up afterwards?
P - I wouldn't say caught up, everybody was doing it. We would go to a show and see Jesse Royal singing and be blown away. And people see five people hanging out like Chronixx, Jesse, everyone… it was just natural. And we heard Jesse come out and for Jesse for me, it's more about his presence on stage. That's what drew me to Jesse more than anything was that when I saw him on stage he was 100% committed to what he's doing right now, he really believes and energy exudes from him. It's just a natural thing and for us it's not about any body trying to be the man but knowing that everyone's going to get a chance where they have the spotlight on them and then when you do that you just bounce it off to each other and then every one grind and every one's happy. I don't want to be the only one happy, I want to see every body happy. So it's happening all over if you check hip hop, guys like Joey coming up bringing a level of consciousness. Rappers talking about Christ consciousness and that type of stuff… you see it happening, you see music popping up from Africa, you see it coming from Europe, like everywhere I think there's a level of consciousness in the music right now. And not even in the music, just in people… all of the sudden something like yoga is widespread in Jamaica, you wouldn't see that five, three years ago. All the sudden it's cool to be vegan and to be eating like that.. it's a cycle, the music is just playing a part in it.
GM - Tell us more about being Rastafarian and how its teachings influence your music?
P - I started to read Walter Rodney which got me to Marcus Garvey, which got me to His Majesty (Selassie I). And then when it reached to His Majesty, it really started to change what I wanted to do in music. First of all, I just wanted to make good music, that was it. Just good quality music, good production, good song writing. When I started to get more into the teachings and philosophy of His Majesty it was more about ok, can there be a deeper purpose within the music? That's why in the last verse of the Flame, when I say
I'd rather be spiritually attained than critically acclaimed. Put that on your brain, systematically drained…
Then it becomes less about the tune they want spin but knowing that the work was the best it could have been. That's a thing His Majesty always says, it's not about the accolades you're going to get from all of this. It's about knowing in your self that you put your best effort forward. So the teachings of His Majesty is the main thing for me that keeps me grounded, because I know that certain things don't really matter. His Majesty is more a spiritual, philosophical thing then a religious thing for me.