Interview: Vybz Kartel
So tell me Vybz, whatís on and popping with you?
Vybz Kartel: Well Iím just here chilling, doing some work for Greensleeve you know what I mean. Because my album is going to drop October 2, 2003 so Iím doing interviews and collaborations.
Peach: What is the name of the album?
Vybz Kartel: It is called Up To The Time.
Peach: Itís rumored that you wrote for some artist such as Bounty Killa, Nitty Kutchie and you have worked with Merciless just to name a few. Is this true?
Vybz Kartel: Just Bounty and Nitty. I use to and I did not write all of Nittyís songs. I just wrote one song for Nitty and I wrote a few songs for the ďWarlordĒ Bounty Killa.
Peach: There is a lot of talk that when your album drops and if the record company really promotes your album that you are going to tear down the place. As a matter of fact the other day I was reading about Hot 97 and a deejay comparing you to the likes of Nas. How do you feel about that?
Vybz Kartel: Well I just feel like I have done something right. Right now it is a feeling of hard work being done, I just feel pleased because I put out the hard work. Itís just a natural thing. Thatís what you are going to hear in the streets when someone is working hard on something they love to do.
Peach: Yeah but how do you feel knowing that there are some people comparing you to Nas?
Vybz Kartel: Well I feelÖwell two feelings. My personal feelings, I feel great to know that they compare me to a lyricist and a man who took Hip-Hop to a higher level lyrically you know what I mean? And for reggae music too, for the people can say they compare me to Nas and I am a DJÖthat means a lot for dancehall music. Dancehall music is showing signs of intelligence and hotness, dancehall always had that flavor but it is now getting that international attention. Thatís great!
Peach: Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Vybz Kartel: I can not see myself ten years from now but what I hope?
Peach: Yeah, what do you hope?
Vybz Kartel: (laughing) Oh well what I hope, before or after the Grammy?
Peach: (laughing) Brap..Brap..I like that one. Hmmm letís say after the Grammy.
Vybz Kartel: Well I donít know. I guess I will just keep looking at my Grammies. But no seriously I want to go into producing because you have crazy young talent in Jamaica that is up on a higher level. When I talk about higher level, I mean where their going to take dancehall to a new dimension in terms of creative styles and flow. Yes I want to get into producing and maybe into film producing as well because it is art as well.
Peach: You use to perform with two artist name Mr. Lee and Escobar. Why did you go solo?
Vybz Kartel: (laughing) ďI didnít go solo. I never go so low, I just went single. It was because of the work. They were not putting out that much work. They wanted to reap the same benefits. They are my friends but you have to draw a thin line between friendship and business you know what I mean? Because the principals of business do not require friendship to take down some money so I just went on my own.Ē
Peach: When would you say you begin to take dancehall serious or should I say when did you fall in love with dancehall?
Vybz Kartel: ďWell itís not really fell in love, itís a relationship that just grew you know what I mean. It started out as a hobby, just listening to songs on the radio and writing them out and singing them until I started writing my own songs. Then I started deejaying them in front of friends till the friends became bigger till it became a stage show you know what I mean. Then I started going to the studio, itís something that evolves you know what I mean but I know I was bound for it.Ē
Peach: You mentioned that you use to perform in front of friends and local stage shows. Where was this?
Vybz Kartel: Well Waterford in Portmore, yeah St. Catherine.
Peach: That is where you are from?
Vybz Kartel: I was born in Kingston, Waterhouse area but I grew up in Waterford.
Peach: By the way, what is your real name and where did you Vybz Kartel? Iím really feeling the name Vybz Kartel, itís different and itís a name that is catchy.
Vybz Kartel: My real name is Adidja Palmer. The Vybz Kartel really came about because it was three of us in a group because you had crazy crews like Monster Shack Crew, Scare Dem Crew and so on. We just wanted our name to be different. Kartel seemed to be a fitting name because cartel means a group of people coming together to limit competition and control prices and that is what we did.
Peach: Yeah but before you were called Vybz Kartel you were called.. (Vybz cuts me off)
Vybz Kartel: In the Kartel Crew my name was Adi Banton.
Peach: You did a song called Adi Love Fat Women. Did you ever release that?
Vybz Kartel: That was my first recording. To tell you the truth I donít know if it came out.
Peach: How do you feel about dancehall music heading in the direction it is going?
Vybz Kartel: It is going great you know what I mean. It is enjoying its most successful time right now. Sean Paul's billboard success you know what I mean, with a hardcore dancehall sound unadulterated you know what I mean. There are crazy collaborations with Bounty Killa out now. The music is just at its best this year so far.
Peach: If you were not deejaying what would you be doing?
Vybz Kartel: I would be robbing everybody else who is deejaying.
Peach: (laughing but wondering if he is serious)
Vybz Kartel: (pausing to get a light for his spliff but he is not laughing)
Peach: How do you manage a relationship with the hectic schedule that you have as an entertainer?
Vybz Kartel: Well I have to find someone I can trust. Because this work that can keep me away from home like months at a time you know what I mean. I have to find the right person I can trust. Itís hard at times because I have been hurt before due to my career but I just have to move on. Because you know we as artists have crazy girls all over. But when you have a personal girlfriend and she violates, well, it hurts. But relationships, I donít really put much effort into it. To me that is just like a myth.
Peach: So you are saying that you are single?
Vybz Kartel: No Iím not saying that.
Vybz Kartel: (laughing) I would be an idiot to say that and people would know that I am a liar. See I have my baby mother you know what I mean, but before her I had a personal girlfriend and it never went right. So I just moved on and this girl that Iím talking to, I got her pregnant and if the relationship should fade away because of my career then I will just have to move on. Because my career pays the bills plus extra so if I had to choose then you know which one I would choose.
Peach: Well are you not worried about the female groupies and possibly being put in a situation like what Kobe Bryant is experiencing?
Vybz Kartel: No I am not worried about that because I do not move in that manner.
Peach: How do you handle male groupies? We know about female groupies but what about this new trend of male groupies. How do you know who means you good from who does not?
Vybz Kartel: Well me, Iím a kind of different artist. I do not leave my hotel when I am traveling to different places. I just have some people who come and link me for business (pointing to Bling Dawg who is in the process of doing a dub for Steelie Bashment). In when I am in Jamaica traveling around the island nobody really comes near me because they know how I roll.
Peach: I know you just did some work with the Neptunesí and Jay_Z the other day. But is there any other Hip_Hop artist you would like to work with?
Vybz Kartel: Oh I would like to work with crazy rap artists. I love rap music. I would like to work with 50 Cent, Snoop Dog even Wu Tang Clan who I have rated for a long time.
Peach: Whoa you picked some top artists!
Vybz Kartel: Yeah, I love rap music. Maybe Eminem just to show off my lyrical versatility with him you know what I mean because he has it.
Peach: Who would you say was your inspiration coming up?
Vybz Kartel: In the early part of my career, the innocence of coming up, my inspiration was the love for the music you know what I mean. Until I got big enough to make a career my inspiration came from my friends and family. Yeah!
Peach: How do you feel about the Hip Hop pirating in dancehall music?
Vybz Kartel: Well itís a mutual thing because Hip Hop was created out of dancehall music and some artists feel they have a right and a privilege to just take back. But itís a thin line between showing love to a song in your song and pirating that song you know what I mean. You got to know that the line is very thin, you know what I mean. Pirating of melody and lyrics like straight out is not really a Kartel thing but I canít fight artists from doing their thing, I can only do mine you see me? But Hip Hop influence is dancehall and dancehall influence is Hip Hop because itís both urban black music and itís not far apart you know what I mean.
Peach: Do you feel that it should be more dancehall unity among the artists? Itís rumored that certain deejays are paying selectors and radio disc jockeys not to play certain artists tunes.
Vybz Kartel: Well unity in dancehall, I canít unify the deejays in dancehall because I was born into a world where I see people warring. So if the deejays want to war they just war. Iím not here to debate on the unification of artists, Iím here let people know that dancehall music is powerful and Vybz Kartel is one of the greatest deejays ever. Thatís my job, I donít give ahhÖÖabout other artists warring and whoís paying who you know what I mean. I just keep it real with the people. Itís the people who build me because of crazy mix tapes. Yeah crazy mixed tapes bust me, so I really donít pay artists much attention. Actually I donít even hang with artists. I and Wayne Marshall are close, I and Bounty are close but we donít hang out. I donít even go out with artists. I roll with my thugs or with my girl you know what I mean. Because I know what artists are like, I know what they are about thatís why I donít hang with them, I just keep it moving.
Peach: So what do you do in your free time?
Vybz Kartel: I have no free time you know what I mean. This is my free time right now, Im doing an interview so its work and its play cause its fun you know what I mean. Thatís the greatest thing about music; there is no other business like show business.
Peach: There are not that many female deejays in the dancehall industry. There is Lady Saw, Nadine Sutherland, Cecile, Tanya Stephens and a few others. Who would you work with if you had the opportunity?
Vybz Kartel: Lady Saw, you feel me. She is tough. But the reason we do not have that many female artist in Jamaica to buss out international because they do not have any p***y principle you know what I mean. So they just fall down by the way side in the dancehall business you know what I mean. Some of them just do not have any talent.
Peach: So would you work with Lady Saw? I mean I rate Lady Saw, she has some nice lyrics and she will always be the Queen B of dancehall to me.
Vybz Kartel: Yeah but you have a young girl in Jamaica name Spice. She is tough, listen out for her.
Peach: There is a rumor circulating out that you might be working on a dancehall remix with Britney Spears. Is this true?
Vybz Kartel: I know nothing of that.
Peach: If it came to be would you do it?
Vybz Kartel: What, like now! I would cut this..nah I wouldnít cut the interview I would bring you with me. (laughing) I have heard about it and itís in the Jamaican Gleaner and Observer but I donít know about her and she does not know about me.
Peach: Maybe you can help me and a few of my fellow colleagues to understand why artist are not so eager to do electronic interviews. Do they not understand how far the Internet can reach? Internet interviews reach as far as Germany, Sri Langka, Japan and Africa. Places where Source, Vibe, XXL, Xnews and Hard Copy are not being sold.
Vybz Kartel: It is because of the lack of knowledge towards the Internet you know what I mean. People have the Internet service and still do not understand how many people are logging on daily. They do not understand that it is just like t.v. or even greater in reaching people. Because if artists knew how beneficial it is towards their careers and if these artists want their careers to move forward then they will do the interviews. But sometimes artists use crazy excuses to go around interviews in a whole. Yeah, Iím telling you.
Peach: Vybz thank you so much for doing this interview even if I did have to wait six hours to get it. (laughing)
Vybz Kartel: Well good things come to those who wait. You know what I mean.
Peach: Well can we chill out with you guys for a few minutes to get some pictures?
Vybz Kartel: Yeah you asked the right f**king question.
Peach: If someone is interested in booking you how can they contact you?
Vybz Kartel: They can link through Solid Agency or they can call me at 850_6707 that is my managerís number.
Vbyz Kartel: Linking up to your website is like linking up to heaven.
Peach: Thanks Vybz!