“Hold You” is the summer’s official party anthem –it’s the melodic tune that’s being blasted in every car, playing every hour on every radio stationand filling up dance floors worldwide. Gyptian is the man behind this ubiquitous hit and calls his sound “Island Rock”. It is a brand of soulful reggae that the masses are embracing with open arms. But Gyptian wants to do more than make us dance; he’s a musical chameleon and relishes the challenge of giving his growing fan-base the unexpected with each song and album. Life is the inspiration behind his music and he took time out of a hectic international tour to give the Orijin reader an insight into his mind.
What is your Orijin?
I’m from the slum, the gutter, the gully, that’s where I’m from. I’m a star. It’s possible to do anything you want in life. I’m from nothing to something and I’m from Jamaica. That’s my Orijin.
How does being from the gutter, being from Jamaica affect your music?
I mean it doesn’t affect my music, it only strengthens my music. Whenever I do music, it’s the real deal. I don’t do try to do fake stuff that people can’t relate to.
Do you think there’s an African influence in your music?
Hell yes! “Cause I’m African descent. No matter what you say, no matter where you wanna be born, where you wanna come from, if you’re black you’re from Africa. We were all slaves. Our great ancestors did their part and leave us to come into a better
generation, Malcolm X, Luther King, Mandela. Ya know?
Have you ever been to Africa?
Yeah I’ve been to Africa like twice. And I’m going back this year again. I’ve been to Kenya and Senegal.
Could you tell me more about it?
In Jamaica you see a lot of things on TV, you think Africa would be like that, ya know? But I mean, going there you see that Africa is Africa man. I will live in Africa, it’s the only place out of Jamaica I will go to live to. ‘Cause nobody can beat me from there and deport me. So that’s
why I would go to Africa, anywhere else would be just for business and for vacation, that’s it.
What role can musicians play to change the perception of Africans?
I mean, we as black people we’re different and cannot be changed. I think we should unite, not just saying it, we should have more love for our own kind. Ya know? So I don’t even think music itself can change it, it only can show them the way. If they don’t wanna change, I don’t think music is gonna be able to change it, you cannot force them to change. So I think we as black people, even myself, I don’t want to put myself out of it, but we need to unite, real unity, not just saying it. Because we have a lot of freedom fighters, but it seems like all the fight was in vain, ya know? We’re still enslaved, we’re still in bondage, mentally, physically, spiritually.
Can you tell me about the difference in the creative process when writing a song like “Serious Times”, “I Can feel your pain”, “Hold you”? How do you approach each song creatively?
I mean it all have to do with the riddims, it all have to do with the vibes, I just write music off what I see, what I feel. I write things that’s supposed to be happening. When it’s all about showing the world that I’m versatile, using up my versatility because there’s not many artists that can do what I do. ‘Cause whenever I’m doing a song, I always try to be a different person in each song. So probably that’s why a lot of people have confusion in their minds and heads. I mean whenever Gyptian sing a song it’s always a different person, even though it’s the same Gyptian but I try to put myself as a character.
Musically, who influences you?
Life itself. My influence…for me to say, it’s this person or that person, I would lie. I don’t really listen to people ‘cause I don’t want their inspiration, I don’t want their meditation ‘cause that’s already set. I like their music but they’re no too influential. I like all the good songs right now, I’m a fan of them. My inspiration comes from life itself. Whatever I see in life, that’s what I write about, that’s greater than anybody can ever think of. Life itself. And I sing about two things, peace and love.
What would you want the next generation of dancehall stars to take from you?
Well actually I’m not a dancehall star.
Okay the next reggae artist?
I mean the type of music and the type of singing that I’m trying to implement in the system, ‘cause if you notice I sing different from everybody. Some say I sing like a R&B singer, some say I have a touch of this so that’s the whole thing, to be different. To see that music does not bound you, it doesn’t sleep in anybody’s house, nobody has captured it, it’s not in captivity. Music is just like the water. You can never stop seeing the water. You can never stop seeing the sun. You can never stop hearing music but what about if I create a new type of music? More people can gravitate and learn from it.
How would you describe the Gyptian sound?
I would describe Gyptian music as Island Rock ya know.Your biography mentions that your mother is a Christian and your father is Rastafarian.
How does that dichotomy influence what you believe in nowadays?
It teaches me to take bullshit from nobody. ‘Cause if my mom and dad have two separate beliefs and I’m their son which binds them together forever and I see them growing up and I didn’t have any problems so… I mean, I’m just a life liver. No problems for me, it was a balanced life growing up as a kid, trust me.
How does it feel to have the biggest reggae song in the world?
It feels awesome. It feels good ‘cause you got no competition. It’s not like you’re the biggest rocker and there are other songs, you’re the top man now, so I mean it’s a blessing. You gotta make it while the sun shine and just give thanks to that.
What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next five years?
Some real money. Real. Live happily ever after. Friends around me can be all right and help who me can help. I won’t try to save the world, ‘cause I’m just a man.
Gyptian gets his with Orijin Clothing and wears it at his albim release in New York
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