A Hip Hop Legend says “Caribbean Music Can Be A Monster,” However…
I got a chance to reason with a Hip Hop Legend last Friday, the one and only Mr. Cee. Depending on the depth of your knowledge of hip hop culture, you may know Cee as Big Daddy Kane’s DJ, or as the man who recorded the demo tape that got Biggie Smalls his deal with Puff Daddy. Or you may just know him as the influential radio personality at New York’s #1 radio station, Hot 97 FM. Besides playing great hip hop and R&B, Cee has been influential in helping break many dancehall records on the international market. Hot 97 plays more reggae than most of the urban format stations in America. So I had to ask him the $64,000 question:
You were involved in hip hop before it was a major major money industry. Do you feel like reggae can ever reach that same level of prosperity internationally? It seems like it always stays in the grassroots and in the underground moreso than rap.
AND THIS IS WHAT HE SAID. “I know that reggae probably can be just as lucrative or just as successful as hip hop is, or maybe even beyond. I know that it could. But the one thing that’s the biggest downfall for reggae right now…
…and it’s been the downfall for the longest time—is these artists not getting along with each other, and these artists not doing enough with one another to lift each other up and help each other out, to take the music to the next next level. If they was to work together a little bit more, do more collaborations with each other a little bit more, and just lift each other up a little bit more, piggyback off each other a little bit more, Caribbean music can be a monster.
I love Mavado and I love Kartel, but for those two guys to be at the top of the game right now and for them to be going through what they’re going through, it doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t help the overall upfliftment of what the Caribbean scene could be.
You know, I spoke to Mavado’s manager a couple of weeks ago on the email and I said, “Yo, even Jay-Z and Nas squashed their beef.” I just threw that line at him through the email just so that maybe he can talk to Mavado. Just kind of, you know, throw those words out there so maybe something can be worked out. Now I’m not trying to be a peacemaker. But I know that’s always been the downfall of Caribbean music since I’ve been dealing with it. The artists don’t get along with each other, the promoters don’t get along with each other, the Djs don’t get along with each other. It’s worse than hip hop—and hip hop is bad—but it’s worse than hip hop.
But one thing I will say that the Caribbean artists have over the hip hop artists is this: Beenie Man and Bounty Killer can be on the same show and they’re not going to go to blows with each other. 50 Cent and Rick Ross—you can’t put them on the same show. You know what I mean? The Caribbean artists at least have some type of sanity to them going at each other. But if they was to work together a little bit more, do more collaborations with each other a little bit more, and just lift each other up a little ebit more, piggyback off each other a little bit more, Caribbean music can be a monster.
That is such a big point that you made, and I hate to even conjure up the spirit of your good bredren—but having gone through seeing what happened with B.I.G. and Pac—does that influence your thoughts on what’s happening in reggae right now?
Of course it does. Of course it does. And that’s why I won’t feed into what Mavado says about Kartel, and I won’t feed into what Kartel says about Mavado. Of course it does because at any given time… Is Mavado gonna do something to Kartel? No. Is Kartel gonna physically do something to Mavado? No. But both of them got entourages and both of them got people that—their man’s man’s man—you know what I mean? And you just never know the next man’s intention, of when somebody may take action on the other person just because they wanna show that they a rider, or that they’re gonna ride or die for their brother. And so on and soforth. So that’s what scares me about the whole situation that’s going on now between Gully and Gaza. You know what I mean? It’s just crazy to me. And it’s so much money to be made out there. And there’s so much prosperity and so much uplift that these artists can give to their country if they was to be a little bit more accessible to each other.
OKAY, class is dismissed. And remember: Who can’t hear will feel. Like the man called Anthony Redrose said: “Cyan say we never did ah warn you.”
Or as KRS ONE put it: “Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Every One.”