Feb 2011 Transcript
Hilton Garden in by JFK Airport
I HEARD YOU JUST MASHED UP REBEL SALUTE.
Well Rebel Salute was a great show, great show. Very very very very great performance. I came out on top for this year. The three best performance for the night was Octane, Beres Hammond, Mavado. And we have all Toots—we have every big artist on the show.
BUT THE PEOPLE MADE THEIR CHOICE.
Yeah and that was a great accomplishment for the I. And the rest of the how dem for the year, like Sting, Teenspash I was on top same way. Sting was Octane and Sizzla. Teensplash was Octane straight. Sumfest was Octane Khago. You know—so, a great year. Wonderful year.
SO WHAT HAPPENED? AREN’T YOU THE SAME OCTANE WHO’S BEEN WORKING FOR YEARS NOW?
It’s the same Octane. We always deh deh ah put in the work. Basically just what happen now, we have a whole heap of distraction in the music over the years. You know, we have Beenie and the Bounty Killer feud. And then we have the Mavado and the Vybz Kartel Gaza and Gully thing, weh took a toll on the people dem fe a long while. You know, so you have great young talent but them ting deh—negative things was distracting the minds of the individuals.
You dun know, basically, the people them inna the world tends to go to things that more easy—not so negative, but more easy to accept. Because you have less complicated minds exist. So people take onto things that more easy. Ah just people outta the box who try something more complicated. And try fi take the time out fi even study it or meds it etc. So you have good artists like me and other artists etc who deh deh and do their thing from long time.
But even when the Gaza and the Gully ting, I was the only artist outta the feud which stands out same way. The Sting before was Octane. You know? The Sting before this Sting was Octane. And the Gaza and the Gully Sting, it was Octane same way. Get the culture artist performance, was the best performance for the night different from that. You have Tivoli Jamboree, I was the one who took that show too. You know?
WHEN YOU SAY YOU STAND OUT, WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT? YOU DON’T TAKE SIDES IN THE GAZA/GULLY ARGUMENT?
No, no, basically… Like every other artist try fi even get involved inna the feud just fi get them name buzzing. But I was the only one that stands out—don’t give a fuck or whichever you want say bout those two artists. Me have a tunnel vision towards my thing. You know? I was just only focusing Octane. That’s it. And me did wan’ buss dat way day still. Me did wanna extablish or globalize in that form. So people can look pon it and say “If Octane can do it…” Cause it’s much harder, but it ah go motivate other individuals who wan’ take that channel deh. Or who wan feel like “Yo, me can do it! And me can do it in this way.” So me haffi have me. Even if I don’t nothing accomplish nuttin’ from it, at least me pave the way so other people can bring it to a next level. If I don’t do it, people can come do it and do it better.
DID YOU EVER GET DISCOURAGED ALONG THE WAY?
Yeah, nuff times…
DID YOU EVER SAY, “THE PEOPLE LOVE WAR VIBES. I SHOULD JUST START UP SOME BEEF WITH A NEXT ARTIST TO GET A HYPE?
No, no, no. Cause I’m not that type of artist, like to start up a feud. Love me deal with straight. Me have more in-depth tings to with, like the system and the youths dem inna the slum who can’t express themselves. Them speak through me. That’s my goal and aim still. Me have more imperative things weh have more meaning, and things weh more vital, more than to just stop to that. Because that only stay in Jamaica. Me ah do world things. Whichever nation can take up an Octane CD and can relate to it. That’s my goal. Me ah do world music. Me wan’ perform at Superbowl, MTV Awards, me wan’ perform at Grammy Awards, Oscar—everyting! And it’s out of Jamaica with this positive vibe. You know? I just don’t wanna perform at Sting and Rebel Salute and Sumfest. Me wan’ surpass dem level deh. So… it’s good for it still. It’s good for the nature of the business from Jamaica. But you haffi look beyond the box. You haffi look outta the box.
So that wasn’t my ting. You know? It’s not like me ah ridicule a next man music. But that wasn’t my thing. From me still, from me perspective, I just want to be the best Octane. Me no haffi be the best artist, but just the best Octane. Cause there’s only one Octane. So if I be the best Octane, I Octane, that ah go be the best Octane. Cause only one Octane.
WHAT WAS THE BREAKTHROUGH FOR YOU COMING UP?
Well the breakthrough for me was when I leave Arrows. Because me always have big songs in Jamaica. Me songs dem always big in Jamaica, but I as the individual wasn’t up to standard with my songs dem. Beca’ people hear the song dem but them don’t know who sing it. So they couldn’t put a face to the songs dem. That’s one of the reason why me haffi leave Arrows, because them never did wan’… Dem fraid fi bring me up to the status of the songs dem. You know? I don’t know why or dem ting. But you know… me just wan’ do great things pon earth. When flesh pass people fi remember bout it and rock on it.
So me journey was in a man hand weh never have the confidence so me haffi just take it pon meself. So I just leave. I just leave. Lose nuff things, but you haffi weigh your pros and cons still. I leave and after I leave Arrows I start to do my career on my own. And I leave like February—which is this month. And by August me ah the number-one artist in Jamaica.
WE’RE TALKING WHAT YEAR NOW?
This is 2010.
JUST A YEAR AGO.
Okay. So I leave last year February, and by August I’m the top artist in Jamaica.
WHAT WERE THE SONGS THAT YOU SAID WERE BIGGER THAN YOURSELF?
Well from the first song me sing, was a big song. The first song I did for Arrows: “Gun Rise,” I-Octane and Teflon. But people never coulda put a face to the song. And I sing “Stab Vampire,” which go #1 in Jamaica, and #1 in Bahamas, #1 in whole heap of different Caribbean countries, and them never know ah me.
THAT’S A PROBLEM IN THE REGGAE INDUSTRY, THE SONGS GO FARTHER THAN THE ARTISTS.
Because marketing of the brand is very imperative, very important. Marketing of the brand. Caw Bob Marley brand bigger than the music right now. Because Bob Marley pass, but you still can sell a Bob Marley I-trait or a Bob Marley picture. You know? And it might value more than the Bob Marley album. Say for instance you pay like 13 dollar or 10 dollar for a Bob Marley album. You’d have to pay maybe 1000 dollar or 2000 for a real Bob Marley picture. So the image is more expensive than the music right now. And right now music not even ah sell like that again. So the image…
So basically what I did, I just leave. I get a publicist. I get alla dem ting deh. I put alla them ting dem in place weh missing. So if I cough them write about it. Me inna the paper regular.
THIS IS RAY YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT?
Yeah, this is Ray Alexander. People start say, “Who is this Octane? We see him inna the paper every week—weh him sing?” And them start say “Oh, him sing dem song yah?” You know? “Him did this? Him did that?” And you done know me have an image weh marketable too. Caw everything come in one package. Your attitiude haffi right. You haffi have an image weh… You know? You haffi learn fi adjust and adapt. Not say you ah sell out but you have to move according to how the music move.
YOU SEEM LIKE A SAVVY BUSINESSMAN AS WELL AS AN ARTIST. DID SOMEBODY TEACH YOU THIS STUFF?
Well no—ah just trial and error. Trial and error. Me come from a very family-oriented ting. And me always try fi learn things on my own. As weh me say, the other artists dem go for the fast lane. Them wan sing a one song, them wan get a car, them wan’ get a house, have sex with a couple girls and that’s it. Me look pon music beyond popularity and fame and money.
SO WHAT IS YOUR MISSION THEN?
Well, me see music—music is more like a tool to me. Is like a carpenter have a hammer, etc. Is more like a tool. Is what me use fi express meself and others. You know? So people can listen to me music and alleviate themselves of stress.
So it’s more like a global ting. Is more than just money and fame. All of them ting deh will come along the way. And you haffi know how fi place them ting deh. So it’s necessary to maintain the lifestyle and your flesh on earth.
But for the spiritual realms, that is music for me. You know because me can stay inna Jamaica inna one likkle small box and sing a song and it hit in France, where nobody in France know Octane. But them listen to the music and get connected to the spiritual realms, which is… them don’t know the individual yet. Them don’t know the face. Them don’t see the person. Them don’t know what kinda character or etc. You know? So the music—that part deh of the music more important to me still.
So for me it’s just more like trial and error. I try things and it no work, me know say, Okay, if it no work dat way, it haffi work dat way yah. So along the way, you know, me grasp and gather knowledge along the way.
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE ARROWS LAST FEBRUARY?
Yeah man I have to leave because all a them songs—“Mama You Alone,” “Stab Vampire,” “Different Page” you know, “Gun Rise“—whole heap ah dem song deh was Arrows songs. And them ah say me nah sing no hit song gi’ dem. Them never get a hit song from me yet.
REALLY? THAT’S WHAT THEY SAID?
Yeah, so me ah say “okay…” And them was like, “Yo, do dancehall. Do some of wha’ Kartel ah do.”
THEY MENTIONED KARTEL SPECIFICALLY?
Yeah like “Do what Kartel do or do wah Mavado.” Them bring up a couple artists, like, “Do dem type a ting deh.” And I was like me can’t be Vybz Kartel. Me can’t be Mavado. Me haffi be me. And this is what me has to offer. So them never deh pon the same page and the same mind settings.
WHAT’S THE FIRST SONG YOU DID AFTER YOU STEPPED AWAY?
Well I do whole heap ah songs. I step away and do “Lose A Friend.” As I step away I do “Lose A Friend.” Like the following…
WHO PRODUCED THAT ONE?
SO YOU LEFT ARROWS AND WENT TO THE TRUCK TO VOICE OUT
Yeah in the likkle truck. Yeah and I did “Lose A Friend,” “Tink A Likkle Time.” I do “My Life.” I do “Missing You.” I do “Thank You Father.” I do whooooole heap ah songs man. I do “Puff It.” Laughs…
WHEN YOU TOUCHED “LOSE A FRIEND” THIS PAST SUMFEST THE WHOLE PLACE JUST LIT UP WITH TORCHES. WAS THERE A FRIEND YOU HAD IN MIND WHEN YOU WROTE THAT SONG?
No not really. Not really. If you listen my songs dem, me sign real topics. Me no sing bout things weh luu or fictionary and dem supm deh. Me sing bout real topic yunno. So if you buck your toe it gwine bleed. Me no sing say me have 100 car and me never have one. Or me have 300 girlfriend, which is impossible. You understand? So me sing real tings, real tings weh people can look and say “Real ting him ah talk yunno.” And I do global topics.
So “Lose A Friend” is a topic weh everybody can relate to. A point in time will come inna you life when you ah go lose a loved one. Because death is a must. You know two things is a must from you born: you haffi get older and you haffi dead. So is a must. You know? So me sing “Lose A Friend” cause people can relate to it. You have nuff people inna the world who never get the chance to tell somebody say them love them. You have nuff relationship them just fight and one of the partner them lef’ the house and dead. And them sorry bout it. You friend who just lose friend—just ah talk to your friend right yah so and him move, him dead—for whatever particular reason. So people just lose them loved one outta them life and them nah expect it.
So me know say people woulda gravitate to that and take onto a topic like that. Yeah but everybody—nuff people in Jamaica sing about “Lose A Friend” sing about songs when them friend pass.
THAT TOPIC HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE.
That topic is a topic weh people sing every day. But me write my songs dem different. Me sing bout the same topic or is the same message but me come in a different form. Like “Lose a Friend” me just sing it real, like “When the preacher pray over your body that day, so me know me lose a friend.”
Caw you know say more time you hear say one ah your friend dead. But when you actually go ah the funeral, and you done see the pastor ah preach and the coffin ah go dung inna the hole, ah so you know say, Yo, Him gone fi true you know. So me make sure me put dem type of tings deh inna the songs dem. More than just the normal elementary day to day things. So me try to go in depth with the songs them, so people can say Yeah, at least him try to raise the bar. You know? Yeah. So “Lose A Friend” and me have whole heap of other songs…
AND THAT SONG SEEMED LIKE IT REALLY SPOKE TO THE MOMENT.
Yeah and then you had whole heap a people that dead inna Jamaica. Whole heap a people dead across the globe.
You have whole heap a songs. But basically for me still, me just sing songs, and every time me sing a new song, me as the person surpass the song. I don’t even look back pon it. Yeah cause I notice as an artist you haffi try fi know say, “All right then… Yeah, me sing couple song and them hit.” But you’re just as good as your last project. So what you gonna sing after that? You can’t stop at dat. Cause when time come and the people dem hear dem song deh too much them ah go stop book you. Them ah go stop ray. You nah go be on top again.
We just sing the songs and just know say, them is a spiritual songs and the Almighty appreciate it and thing. So me just sing it and move on. So that ah the ting that keep elevating in the business, because me think ahead. And then the songs them grow to me.
INSTEAD OF THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
Instead of the other way around. So you know some man woulda sing a song and say “Yo, me have the biggest song this year.” And then two years pass and them can’t find a next song. Them can’t surpass that song deh. No, me no really work day way deh. You know? And for me, all of me songs dem play a very imprtant role for me.
Because most of the songs dem weh hit for certain people, is not my favorite songs them. Me have other songs them weh people love, but them mean so much to me because is a part of me. Them more even powerful than the songs them weh hit. So is just like a tree with whole heap a branches. And you done know every branch and every limb play an imperative role for the tree. So it come from the same root. Like a mango tree. You no pick from the same side every day. But every mango play an important role on the tree. So is more like that for me.
LET’S PICK ANOTHER MANGO OFF THE TREE. “YOU THINK A LIKKLE TIME.” WHEN I HEAR THAT SONG I FEEL THE JOURNEY OF AN ARTIST WHO’S BEEN STRIVING FOR A LONG WHILE NOW.
Yeah man, cause as me tell you me start music young—very very young. So, you know… An’ me never really have no whole heap ah money. Me come from a poor background still. So me did haffi have something. And true me tell myself say, I won’t be a negative element. I won’t be caught by the system, you know, and dem sup’m deh. Most of my friends dem who me grow with right now them dead off or who no deh a prison or who no become gunman, etc. All of them ting deh. But me choose not to. You know, I choose not to.
THAT WAS RIGHT THERE FOR YOU.
Yeah, right there. Accustomed to gun. Accustomed to smoking. Everything. But I chose not to. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t try fi go the other way. Because me know say I could. It more easy. It come too easy. So me say me go try the hard way, which is success. You know? And you done know say, life…. Or… Poverty is a hard subject to pass. You know? Is a hard subject. Sufferation is a very very hard subject. You have to study fi it well fi pass it. You know? But smoking—me can just do it. Me no haffi be a smoker, me can just build a spliff now and smoke. Me can just go get a gun and fire it now. Simple. So me try take on the things them that complicated and try fi pass them, fi better me as a better individual for the future. Yeah. So ah just basically that.
So me chose not to…. So “Think A Likkle Time” is a song weh, all of the time now, me see everybody ah say “Octane ah de man” and “Octane ah de baddest artist” and all dem ting deh. Me already set my mind fi that and well already ready fe embrace it. So me can surpass it. And don’t stop at that era deh, and then me get complacent. Or complacency drop in and me get lazy or me get laid-back and then some other new artist come and take the space and move on.
Caw’ you know say music have a time span. But me don’t wan’ do music for music. Me wan’ do music as a global ting. That mean say, even if me nah sing, people still recognize the brand. The brand—you know I mean? Just like KFC or Burger King or one of them place deh. Everybody analyze and know the brand. You no haffi go in deh fi buy nuttin. Is not about the chicken weh dem jerk, is about de brand. Cause the same man who do the jerk chicken pon the corner, him still sell chicken like KFC.
PROBABLY BETTER THAN KFC.
Right—it’s even better than KFC. You know I mean? I’m just making an example cause I don’t really eat meat still. But the brand alone, the title KFC alone, and how them endorse it and how them market it, better than one pan weh you see just open. You know? And people always try fi say, Yo them a try talk over he chicken and split back the thing like this… Ah de same ting dem do. But people prefer to join the line and see the machines and all of them ting deh. So it better. But just how you market it—people just buy it because of the brand. Ah deh so me wan’ bring my ting.
The brand of reggae as a whole has taken some hits this year. 2010 might be one of the worst years for the music internationally. Not that there wasn’t great music, but if you look at all the artists going to jail, and so many artists losing their visas. How do we rebuild this brand?
Well fi rebuild the brand, you haffi have an artist who don’t think selfish and who think beyond popularity and fame. Me’s a youth pay me own airfare come a foreign. Pay it outta my pocket, just come do some promotion. Yeah, just fe that. Ah no like you’re getting per diem or you’re getting paid fi a show. You just come and just make some link promoting reggae music. You know, just dweet on my own. So ah dem ting deh. Me’s a youth do them ting deh outta me pocket.
And then you have the artist them inna Jamaica, them making money but them nah invest back inna themself. Them prefer have ten girlfriend and pay ten rent—ten different rent and ten different apartment them put up woman inna. But them wouldn’t even make a good video. Or try fi push the song, push a particular song weh have the potential fi reach to the next level. Everybody ah try hustle the music, and everybody taking from the same cup of water. And nobody putting in back any water. So the well ah run dry.
IT’S LIKE ANTHONY B SAID IN THAT SONG, “NOBODY WAN’ PLANT THE CORN, EVERYBODY WANNA RAID DI BARN”
Yes, it’s like how Anthony B said, nobody want plant the corn, but everybody wan’ reap it. So it hard. And right now me no see a next reggae artist, me no see a next youth like me who have the mind settings and even try fe think like how me think.
ONE WHO YOU REMIND ME OF—NOT MUSICALLY, BUT BUSINESS-WISE—IS SHAGGY
Yeah, Shaggy woulda be a great man. Because him have the same mind settings like me. Him have the same mind settings like me.
I DIDN’T KNOW HOW BUSINESS MINDED YOU ARE.[Laughs] Well it’s basically just because me can’t be selfish and me can’t be like that. And me can’t think mediocre in terms of something that I gain from.
WELL LET’S JUST SAY COMMON SENSE ISN’T ALWAYS SO COMMON.
Yeah—good, good, good. Because remember now: the things that these individual treat so bad are the things that make them into a star. Becaw’ you already exist, you already ah wear clothes, you already out there. So why you never important to people before you start sing? So people start say you ah the best now. You already the best before. It just ah take a time for you to get soak and people start ray.
You have to understand say the same mouth who say no ah go say yes. Because you only can be the best a couple years. Otherwise a new crop ah go come and people ah go change focus. You just have to just build your kingdom like Beres Hammond them. No care who come, Beres Hammond will always be a brand. Buju dem will always be a brand. No matter wha’ him go through, him always be Buju Banton. Bob Marley, you know, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs. You know—whichever artist. Beenie Man, Bounty Killer will always be like that.
YOU HAVE YOUR EYE ON THE HALL OF FAME—THOSE ARTISTS.
Yes, you understand.
YOU DID A RECORD WITH BERES AND BUJU, DIDN’T YOU?
Yeah—a long time ago when I was at Penthouse. Very young them time deh.
WHAT WAS THE SONG CALLED?
“No Love in The Street” Beres Hammond, Buju Banton, and Assassin.
HOW DID YOU COME AMONGST THOSE BIG ARTISTS AT THAT TIME IN YOUR CAREER?
Well Penthouse… You know, me always a sing, always do music in me community. And one day me come ah town, just take a bus and just find a studio….
YOU’RE COMING A LONG WAY—ALL THE WAY FROM CLARENDON?
From Clarendon. Me no really know town like that at the time. So me come studio. Me friend bring me go ah the studio one time, and then him never wan’ come caw him say him have some work. So me take the bus and me go ah studio. Reach at the studio now and them never wan’ let me inside of the studio. So is like me siddung pon the step of the studio and deh deh ah gwan meds. And a man come up like him book some studio time. And him pass and him go inna the studio with him artist, and him spend like three house and come back come see me in the same place. And him like, “Yo—from morning me see you yah so. And you nah move. You no easy.” So him say, “Weh you do?” So me say, me sing and me DJ. And him say “Ee?” Man say, “Mek me hear weh you have now…”
And as him coulda say it, me give him about five song already. Yeah because me just did wan’ somebody fi just say that to me. Me ready. Me prepare fi it. And him “Whoah my youth yah bad.” And him deh deh with him artist, and me deh deh reason with him till me end up drive way. Me no know weh me ah go, yunno. But him say “Me nah lef you—come.”
WHO WAS THAT?
I don’t know. [laughs]
HE’S A PRODUCER?
Yeah, him a producer. But me no know him at the time. So him just say come, and me follow him and him carry me go one place called Port More. We deh Port More, me and him bredren deh deh and hold a reason and ting and him carry me go Clarendon in the night and ting. Him say, me ah go help you youth, caw me like your vibe an’ ting. And them me and him start par and him start semi-manage the ting. Me just fortunate say him have more than one place. And him say come stay at Port More now and then. Make it more convenient for me and thing.
Them time deh him get him greencard and him haffi migrate. So him link me to one of his friend, she’s a Rasta lady but she say she don’t manage DJ. She only deal with singers. But she say she know somebody who deal with DJ—which is Donovan Germaine.
YEAH I’D SAY HE DEALS WITH SOME DJs.
So she call Germaine and say, Germaine me have a nice young man, very very polite. Love him spirit. And true me no manage DJ, but take care ah him cause him ah me son. So me go and me do an audition for Germaine. Germaine say “Youth you bad man. Me never even expect this from you.”
SO HE WAS FEELING IT RIGHT AWAY?
Yeah. So him just say, “All right then, me ah put out a Buju Banton, Beres Hammond and Assassin.” It was supposed to be Spragga, but Spragga wasn’t available at the time. So him say “All right, sing the last verse.” And me sing the last verse and it come out and ting. But true the song’s so long, people never used to play my part. Them mix it out. Becaw people nah really have the time. Ah no like over here, man ah play out the whole record. In Jamaica, man have different different tune…
I ALWAYS USED TO FEEL BAD FOR KULCHA KNOX, CAUSE HE GOT THE LAST VERSE IN THAT “ANYTHING FOR YOU” REMIX AND NOBODY EVER PLAYS IT.
Yes, like Kulcha Knox. Him in the song with Buju Fabulous Beenie, and him have the last last verse. So is just like a Kulcha Knox thing me get back. But I appreciate it, cause when the song come out on 45, me see me name on it. So ah just from deh so to this. To this. You know?
Me never really give up because me love music. And if I wasn’t doing music, maybe me woulda be a gunman or something. Music is something weh save me. So me haffi try save back the music. Me alone can’t dweet still you know. Me alone can’t do it, caw me ah go need help.
Not in terms of me alone can’t do it as an artist. Maybe I can do it in terms of music. But you ah go need strong people around you, like how Bob Marley did have Chris Blackwell—who have the links across the globe who can put the music in the right place so people can hear it. So maybe in that department, you need help in that department. But you know, me willing to sacrifice meself for the music, even if me no get the legacy from it. But just fe bring back the music to a next level.
So people can… Other youth can… So me can be a mentor for them. So them can bring it to a next level. Cause Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X—them people deh, them sacrifice themself for the culture. But ah we as people get the legacy from it. Because them no get fi live.
Bob Marley no get fi live. Bob Marley no get fi enjoy nuttin weh him ah earn now. But Bob Marley can still go against a Michael Jackson etc. Anybody in the world. Any big artist in the world them haffi recognize and love Bob Marley. You understand? So, and you dun know every artist inna the world kinda do a little reggae in them thing more time.
Everybody try a likkle reggae. You know last night me watch the Superbowl and see Black Eyed Peas dem and….
WILL I AM…?
Yeah the black youth, him remind me of my bwoy deh from Haiti…
Him remind me of Wyclef.
YEAH WELL THE BLACK EYED PEAS ARE LIKE THE FUGEES 2.0. THEY’RE SLICKER, MORE POP.
Yeah so The Fugees inspire that group. It’s just that they’re more consistent. Them inspire those groups. Caw’ Will remind me of Wyclef. And Wyclef get inspiration from Bob Marley. You understand? Wyclef get inspiration from Bob, so it’s the same lineage.
AND THE FUGEES SECOND ALBUM SOLD 17 MILLION COPIES.
17 million copies and that Fugees album was reggae—semi-reggae. Nuff reggae.
AND THAT’S STILL THE BIGGEST SELLING HIP HOP ALBUM TILL NOW.
Up till now. Biggest. 17 million. So me now, remember say there is a God and Him know wrong from right. And Him who Him ah give the glory. And Him know who work hard. Is what you put in you get.
PART 2: “WHY DON’T YOU MAKE MORE REGGAE RECORDS?”