Outta Mi Yard Radio – Out of Many Yards We Are One Station

Streaming radio is here to stay for music sounds that are not represented through corporate land based profit making playlisted stations. Radio has become a slave to automation software. Many people who work on it are usually clueless about music and the computers to all the work. They just have a script to read which usually lacks substance and opinion. I decided to stop working on stations locally in Cyprus a couple of years ago because of playlists, the lack of shekels they paid me for my work, and more important than any thing a lack of respect and knowledge for the music I play, namely Reggae. Streaming offers liberation and a new station I am on ‘Outta Mi Yard’ is a dream come true, doing radio from home, with people in the chat room sharing and loving the vibes. Its a continuation of many of the people on Versionist working as a collective from many yards around the world as one station. Show time remains Wednesday for me, 6-8 GMT – 8-10 CY Time. I do like Wednesday, it breaks up my week, and I enjoy radio so much more nowdays. So join me in the studio, outta my yard, live from Nicosia click and tune in here


3 The Soul comes to Paphos

 3 the soul

3 The Soul – 5 nights of partying in Paphos

There are some short cuts to happiness and music and dancing are two of them.  Many people thought clubbing was dead in Cyprus and Brian Norman and Trevor Bailey are out to prove them wrong.  3 The Soul is a new concept that’s coming to Paphos in late June as an exclusive clubbing experience for the Over 30’s. Soul music events at cool beach parties, exclusive open air night spots and an onboard boat party, over one blazing long weekend from 25th to 30th June.

When Brian Norman was DJ’ing at Hanover Grand in the West End, Trevor Bailey was running successful club nights in Essex, attracting celebrities and footballers alike, with big name DJ’s and artists on a regular basis.

In 2014 Trevor got married at the Coral Beach Hotel, Paphos, with Brian DJ’ing at their wedding reception, Trevor and Brian realized there was a gap in the market and the idea was initiated to bring their brand of music to Cyprus. In June 2015 they will be reuniting the DJ’s and the party-goers from back in the day, in the sunny resort of Paphos with 3 The Soul Cyprus.

So who is this duo set to do their thing in Paphos?

Brian Norman

Following 20 years of club DJ’ing, Brian can now boast that he not only founded and promotes one of London’s longest running and most successful R&B nights, he has also developed his DJ’ing career to such a level that he is regularly asked to DJ as far away as Japan, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Ibiza, Dubai, Munich, Cyprus and Dublin. Whilst also being asked to DJ at high profile media events, a few recent parties being the premiers of Aladdin, The Lion King and Jesus Christ Superstar along with celebrity parties for Prince, Madonna, Samuel L. Jackson, Mariah Carey, Wyclef Jean and Maxwell.

After the early days of his career in his home turf it wasn’t long before the East End gave way to the bright lights and far more multicultural mix of people to be found in the West End. This confirmed his resolve to turn what was at the time a fascinating hobby into a career. His residence at ‘Fresh ’n’ Funky’ is the UK’s longest running R&B club night and has received recognition and respect in the music industry receiving a prestigious MOBO Award for Best Club Night. There have been ‘Fresh ‘n’ Funky’ parties running successfully in Dublin, London, Hong Kong and the Cyprus resort of Ayia Napa.

Brian also founded the Fresh ‘n’ Funky Foundation, with his wife, in 2013 to raise awareness and funds for people affected by cancer. The foundation works to raise funds for charities like Cancer Research and ACLT as well as smaller and individual causes.

Trevor Bailey

Trevor Bailey is a well-known face in Paphos, after being a successful football player here (APOP and Evagoras) in the early 80’s and then coaching in Paphos for 2 seasons.

Trevor and his brother Danny Bailey (who also played professional football in Cyprus) now have their own football academy in London, Bailey Elite Football Academy. (www.baileyfootballacademy.co.uk)

Trevor is also a scout and a Centre Manager for Tottenham Hotspur and returns to Cyprus to train players in Ayia Napa every year.

Trevor believes there are many talented players in Cyprus and he has quite a few young players from Cyprus living in England attending his academy. Trevor and Danny trained the likes of George Afrem, (APOEL), Valentino Shellis (AEL), George Shellis (Paphos), Andy Nikolaou and Leyton Orient just to mention a few.  This year Trevor has a football camp in conjunction with Juventus Soccer School at the Yeroskipou Municipal Stadium starting on the 3rd August when he will be bringing boys with him from England to join in with players from all over Cyprus.  There will be training, matches and fun for all the family.

Whilst playing professional football here, Trevor found the people of Cyprus to be very friendly, he made many life-long friends and would like to repay the people of Paphos who looked after him by promoting tourism to the resort, firstly with his football academy and now with 3 The Soul Cyprus.

Events for 3 The Soul include a massive DJ line up including Brian Norman, Dj Bigga, Paul Mac, Pascal, Haji Mike, Vivy Bee, DJ Pav Volitile, Chris Box & Antonis from Rock FM.

 3 the Soul all flyers




3 The Soul Full Schedule
Thursday 25th June – 3 The Soul Beach Party at Lighthouse Beach with DJs from the UK & Rock FM playing Soul & R&B music. Free sun loungers, food & drink available, plus volley ball and 5-a-Side Football to keep you entertained, a perfect chilled out start to the scorching weekend!

Friday 26th June – 3 The Soul Roof Top Party, dance to Classic Soul and R&B music, on the roof top of Everest Bar, overlooking the beach until the sun rises.

Saturday 27th June- 3 The Soul Casino Royale Dinner & Dance Party at Elea Estate with DJs and performance by a Soul Singer.  A classy and lavish party night at the chic and stylish Elea Estate.  Complimentary champagne or Bacardi Mixers, a succulent buffet meal, magician show with casino games and music by Natasha Watts performing her greatest hits, followed by 3 The Soul DJs. A night of cool music and sophistication.

Sunday 28th June – 3 The Soul Wave Dancer Boat Party with DJs and Performance by a Soul Singer. Late afternoon enjoy a relaxing day cruising the aqua seas along the coast of Paphos, with a delicious buffet on the ever popular Wave Dancer. From 9pm, party through the night until heading back to Paphos Harbour.

Monday 29th June –
3 The Soul Sunset Beach Party at Atlantida Beach with Rock FM Live Broadcast. Early evening, to cap the weekend off in style, dance along the sandy shore and party way after the sun goes down at Paphos’s only beach party spot, Atlantida Beach Bar. Rock FM will be hosting the party with 3 The Soul, broadcasting the party live to their huge listening audience with our DJs providing the soulful flavours.

Tuesday 30th June –  Hamam Café Lounge Bar farewell party where you will be mingling and partying as we goodbye to our old and new friends, with 3 The Soul DJs providing the Soul R&B & Reggae music to sing-along to!

Full details on all events, DJ line-ups, start times and costs can be found at http://www.3thesoul.co.uk/

To book tickets or for more details on the events, please contact: 3thesoulcyprus@gmail.com

Versionist – Tune in to the sounds of “Liberation”

About 2 months ago I joined an online radio family called Versionist which was introduced to me by the King of The Reggae and Radio Underground and co-founder of the station Gibsy Rhodes. Having been on radio for the last 3 decades I must admit to feeling a bit tired of the medium of late. Mainstream radio has largely become an automated affair, meaning huge job losses and lack of any quality. I’ve carried on doing ‘Outernational’ as a pre-recorded show, going out on 5 different stations each week…but its not the same as the live radio experience. Gibsy is a clever strategist. He featured ‘Outernational’ on his weekly King of The Underground slot on Versionist for about a month, and then one day threw down the gauntlet, ‘Haji mate, its time you got back on the live tip on Versionist’. He then linked me up with Verisonist, the co- founder of the station, who explained the technicalities and with alot of help from my friend Dub Thomas from Dubophonic, who is also on the station, a new Haji Mike radio show was launched.


“In Session” is on Weds 6-8 GMT (8-10 Cyprus time) and its the best live radio I have done since those wonderful first experiences on University Radio Essex (URE) in the early 1980’s. Versionist is like a village online. The family of DJ’s on it are supportive of each other. We tune into each other shows, share music, make jingles and being on there just feels like a conversation in any natural environment, in a venue, a pub, a coffee shop or even you very own front room.

This week Versionist celebrates 1 year of being on air, warming up the wires with sweet Reggae music. As a tribute, my mate Gibsy sent me a riddim by Flow Production in Switzerland and said ‘see what you can do with this’. The next day I wrote and recorded a special dub plate for the station dedicated to all the DJ’s on the station. So here it is, free for all to enjoy, tune in to the sounds of “Liberation” and pass through the Village, and experience Versionist :)


Mihalakis is my name. Its how I was baptized. Emigrating to England in 1964, seeing snow for the first time in my life, and concrete buildings with many floors was a big culture shock, especially  at the age of 4. In the process of emigration I became known as Michael (on my passport), Mike for short. But that name I was born with always stayed in my mind….So much so that the first poem I performed publicly, some time in the 1980’s was called ‘Mixalakis’…which eventually became a dub song, produced by Tony Muttley…The original lyrics are somewhat extended with some freestyle ramblings on how careers teachers used to treat us at school.

‘Call Me Mihalakis’ was also a drawing by my friend Sonia Joseph, based on the poem and knowing me….Its a bit ghostly…but I really like the facelessness of the image. That feeling really captured the sentiment of the poem. Performing it so many times, I would always get some one coming up to me at the end and saying they went through exactly the same things….



At school
They gave us all kinds of names
Dished out on playing pitches
And over stormy dining tables
They called me many names
I had more nicknames than the years has days
More nick names than the sun has rays
Them call me colour
Call me paki, diego, whop, spik and darkie
Them call me class
Said I should work like my parents
Sweating buckets
Long hard hours present past
Them call me intelligence
Said I was good at
Rugby and footie
But my maths and history was dodgy and awkward
Them also call me
Said I was schizophrenic
Trapped in some kind of bi-cultural panic
Lost in Britain
And not proud of it

Call me colour
Call me culture
Call me class
Call me
All kinds of……
But them never call me
By my name
For that
Was all

From Cyprus to Fukushima with Love…

state of reggae fukushima7 Reggae DJ’s come together for  our  event called ‘From Cyprus To Fukushima with Love’ at Scarabeo on 21st November.

This project has been a struggle, given the economic crisis in Cyprus, and the lack of informed awareness about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

We may not reach our target of 3,400 euros and I am very saddened by this but the struggle, la luta continua, continues.  Fukushima  will take over 40 years to clean up at an estimated cost of $50 billion – this excludes the cost of decommissioning Daiichi Nuclear Reactors 1,2 & 3 which will be another $100 billion.  And of course there is the radiation, and the tragic effects it will have on life, nature and the environment. Rankin Taxi, a Japanese Reggae artist sums it up perfectly in the clip  below with the phrase ‘Radiation – you can’t see it, and you can’t smell it either’.

I feel humbled by the support people have given  from Cyprus and around the world  this  efforts to play at a special charity concert for people in Fukushima on 29th November hosted by our friend Leo Kojima  from Direct Impact Music.

Two of the initiatives we are supporting in Japan through this work are “I & I Koriyama Youth Corps” a voluntary group assisting in reconstruction post-Daiichi. One of their initiatives is to deliver clean drinking water to childcare facilities. More info on I & I here 

We are also supporting L.I.F.E Movement – Live Up Japan please check the clip ‘RISE AGAIN’ video made with survivors of the Daiichi nuclear disaster 

As I said this has not been an easy road to travel and I know that people are pressured in Cyprus, that we are all finding it very hard to make ends meet and trying to raise funds for such a campaign in these circumstances has at times been a big challenge. So I gain strength in knowing people care, here and there, from the deepest Mediterranean to the land of the rising Sun…so much respect to the DJ’s and artists taking part in ‘From Cyprus to Fukushima with Love’  bigup Med Dred, DJ Monday, Tatsafari, Mr. Pakman, Portiero, Johnny Deviant  and bigup to Scarabeo, a place that supports culture in the heart of the city, for giving us the space to show some love…

All of this will happens on Thursday 21st November and entry is free. Just drop  something in the collection box – every little cent counts! For more details click  here

From Cyprus to Fukushima is a living campaign launched to help people affected by the Daiichi nuclear disaster. Donate and follow us, every step of the way from Cyprus to Japan and back by clicking here 

Want more Reggae sounds from Japan? Free download ‘Outernational’ click on player below….

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From Cyprus To Fukushima

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster of March 11th 2011 is the worst of its kind since Chernobyl in Ukraine. 160,000 people were forced to evacuate from their homes. Every single day since then 300 tons of radioactive water from Daiichi Nuclear Power plant enters the Pacific Ocean. No one knows the long terms effects of this on people, how many will die from various forms of cancer and the environment. The clean up operation alone, the biggest of its kind in history will take at least 40 years to complete.

As two artists making Reggae music from Cyprus we were very moved when our friend Leo Kojima of Direct Impact Music in Japan invited us to participate in a charity concert for the victims of the Fukushima disaster. The event will happen on November 29th, 2013 in Koriyama City, 55km from the Daiichi Nuclear Reactor Plant in the district of Fukushima .

poster for the event on 29/11 in Koriyama City

This will be our first appearance in Japan and it means a lot to us to able to contribute to such a worthy cause, all the way from Cyprus on the other side of the world.

It’s also a cause, which we are sure you will agree is not getting the attention the tragedy truly deserves so we are asking you to help by donating and spreading the word to your friends and supporters online through Facebook & Twitter. Our campaign on gofundme.com aims to raise the necessary fund to cover return air fares and touring expenses in Japan. We ask you to help by contributing in whatever way you can….Its a hard fund raising road to travel, particularly from Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean in the middle of a deep economic crisis, but we are trying our best. So far we have raised €832 of our €3,400  which is 24.47% of the total we have to reach……Over 1,000 people have shared our campaign online so keep liking, sharing and donating…we have one more week to go!!!

Click on photo to support From Cyprus To Fukushima

cy fukushima page



The session starts with a classic revival tune that never dies…everyday is just a holiday, what a line, what tune, what a vibe – covered here by the late Ruddy Thomas. Reggae is not the same without Ruddy, who sadly passed away in 2006. DJ cut from Trinity rocks nice and sweet as well. Freddie is one of my favourite singers, what a voice, and “Bandulu” shows that he can sing about any thing and still stir all kinds of emotions. Voices are such unique things….Marcia, from the early 90’s, a big hit, “I Shall Sing” remixed here. Not sure if it a bonafide remix, got it off Soundcloud a while back, works for me though. We stay in a revival mode, Dennis, Big Youth, Bobby Melody, Louisa and the version from Jazzbo. Dodgy homophobic part lets the DJ cut down alot  but so it go, had to edit that out. Then comes a lengthy cut from horn masters Dean Fraser and Nambo Robinson, “Idi  Amin” what a work out. I always saw Amin as a  dictator and this fiery version captures the mood of that time. Gregory, we miss you, tremendously and any thing you ever sang is like honey. “Universal Tribulation” the Saxon dub plate differs from the original cut, tailor made for a sound clash – watch them lo eq frequencies on this.  Ever test a pair of speakers? Try “Mash Down” by Roots. This has been in my 7″ box for some 30 years and its a classic,…Set ends with some dub from Dub Caravan and words from me along with some horns from Coyote…”Innocent Horns” smooth tune!!!!

Outernational Radio show mixed and selected by Haji Mike – Augustus 4 features:

1. Everyday is just a Holiday – Ruddy Thomas & Trinity

2. Bandulu – Freddie McGregor

3. I Shall Sing – Marcia Griffiths

4. No Man is an Island – Dennis Brown

5. House of Dread – Big Youth

6. Jah Bring I Joy in the Morning – Bobby Melody

7. Joyful Dub – Mighty 2

8. Sixth Street – Louisa Mark

9. Meet me at the Street – Jazzbo

10. Idi Amin – Dean Fraser & Nambo Robinson

11. Universal Tribulation (Saxon Dubplate) – Gregory Isaacs

12. Revolution – Lloyd Brown

13. Mash Down – Roots

14. Timeless Riddim – Dub Caravan

15. Distrobushan – Haji Mike & Dub Caravan

16. Innocent Horns – Dub Caravan & Hornsman Coyote

Mixed live using Virtual DJ Pro 7

More info on Outernational @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/outernationalradioshow/

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Outernational Radio show mixed and selected by Haji Mike – Augustus 3 features :

1.”Soon Come” Shy FX feat Liam Bailey
2. “War” U-Roy feat Chezidek
3. “Fu Man Chou” – Desmond Dekker
4. “Fu Man Chou” – The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra feat Bitty McLean
5.”Away with your fussing & fighting” – Jnr Delgado & Hugh Mundell
6. “Weed Out Vampires” – Cornell Campbell
7. “Most I” – Chronixx
8. “Borderline” – U-Roy feat Chezidek
9. “Pray Fi Di People” – U-Roy
10. Love My Audio (remix) – J-Boog
11. “No Look Back” Raging Fyah
12. “Follow Fashion” – Misty In Roots
13. “Rasta Got Soul” – Fatan Mojah
14. “Karma” – Masicka
15. “Ninja Mi Ninja” – Ninjaman
16. “Babylon Is Burning” – Kelissa
17. “Empress Menen” Delmighty feat Nish Wadada

some thoughts and ramblings on the tunes

I do like some of these new tunes. Shy FX feat Liam Bailey especially. It has that old skool sound to it that makes you want to string up the speakers and feel the bass lines a little more. U-Roy has been a huge inspiration for me since day one. I even met the great Microphone Controller backstage once at a gig in Brixton. He passed by my room where I was rehearsing, stood at the doorway and said to my mate Tony Roberts ‘hmmm, him sound good’ and went on his way. There you have it a thumbs up from U-Roy, that must have been around 1992 and I no matter what any one else says I will never put down the mic for as long as I breathe. ‘Fu Man Chou” the original is a timeless classic by Desmond Dekker and the recent cover by The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra feat Bitty McLean cuts it very nice. Chronixx is having a great year taking the Zinc Fence sound to the world, I look forward to more stuff from this youth. You can always tell when some one is always touring, they hardly release new stuff and looks like Chronixx will be on the road for a whole. J-Boog remix care of my very good bredren Ces One is sweet! I won’t go through all the tunes, but “Ninja Mi Ninja” by the Don Gourgon himself is rocking and I can’t stop playing it and singing the chorus.  It’s an act of defiance…imagine sitting in a meeting with your boss who is about to announce a 15% pay cut to you and you just chant “Ninja Mi Ninja” try it out…Ninjaman is like them old batteries, what was it Duracell…Some MC’s never die….

Mixed live using Virtual DJ Pro

More info on Outernational @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/outernationalradioshow/

Protoje…a Reggae Picasso!

“I’ve always made it clear”…so begins the opening song…what unfolds, word for word, sound for sound, as a passionate soul searching confession by singer, songwriter, MC and I would also add poet, Protoje. It is a daring acoustic start to his sophomore release “The 8 Year Affair”. Second albums, after successful first one’s can be tricky mountains to climb. Many artists have emerged literally from nowhere, with huge first releases, and then somehow that second one becomes somehow unattainable – a non-item. The critics come out, baying like wolves, saying ‘I told you so’. Perhaps too many people tend to follow their own shadow by repeating or building on the success of their first release as a kind of blue print, a formula, a template to eternal success. It rarely works like that, especially these days when so much pop music and pop stars are so dispensable/here today gone tomorrow.

Protoje had a huge first release with the “7 year Itch” largely due to the tear away success of the collab tune with Ky-Mani Marley  “Rasta Love” whose clip has over 10,000,000 hits!!! And what a tune, musically, thematically, sonically. Protoje’s flow and Ky-Mani’s gritty timbre over a mellow yet huge hip hop beat on the subject of a well to do young woman ‘falling in love with a rastaman’ It’s reminiscent of a contemporized version of the Reggae revival classic, “Curly Locks” by Junior Byles. Although these tunes are so apart production wise, thematically the way in which division based on wealth, ‘uptown’ versus ‘downtown’ is so simply yet powerfully dealt with. But I am diverging, lets get back to the matter at hand.

Looking at things semiotically the cover of “7 Year Itch” has a certain resonance with “8 Year Love Affair”  Yes the locks are longer, the font and colours differ but the artist remains framed, with dark phat shades on and that’s Protoje’s iconic image.

The similarities however end there….Protoje could have simply done the same formula, instead he decided to start with a thought provoking acoustic song, which on the surface could be a love song, a plea to a partner after 8 years of being together, with all  the ups and downs. Then you check the lyric, ‘the spirit of Marley’ ‘the spirit of Hugh’ ‘ the spirit of Jacob’ all flooding from the artist’s memory like a train of thoughts, a history lesson of sorts on so much that came before him. It is such a soul searching song and I repeat a brave and innovative way to start what is an excellent release. Protoje is the songwriter Reggae has birthed, from the same Jamaican root as Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Hugh Mundell and Bob Andy. The last name I mention as one of the most under rated song writers of all time. Added to the craft of writing songs Protoje has a unique rap flow. On ‘I&I’ he manifests a wicked abstractness which has some echoes of  Q-tip. Indeed Protoje is simply that 90’s hip hop Jamaican generation that has come of age but he is also that rootsical Reggae sound dating back to classic works by Sly and Robbie, that  weighty Black Uhuru era combined with an innovative link to Ini Kamoze. I could really go on and on about this release, this “8 year Love Affair”, tune by tune. I have heard it non stop in my car since February. It’s a rare thing these days to put on a release and feel it so complete, wholesome, and over and over again.

The cycle is complete with the last song, ‘Music From My Heart’ with all horns blazing, making the perfect close. Protoje is like a Picasso, he plans and experiments on his craft meticulously. Imagine how many small sketches were needed for the making of a great work like ‘Guernica’. Protoje has a timeless quality rare in many artists and that comes from the gift of songwriting which he has been blessed with. It’s not so much about long may he reign or how many Grammys will he win, it’s just about the creation, and  perhaps sleeping at night knowing that another boom tune has been birthed….So long may he create I say…and carry on ….itinually….Check the full interview with Protoje  on ‘Outernational Radio Show’ by clicking here

Outernational is  Haji Mike’s weekly Radio Show broadcast on HOT Radio Cyprus, Inspiration FM, Northampton, UK , UrbanIndieRadio in LA, IrieFm Hamilton, Bermuda and the 24/7 Champion Sound BigUp Radio west coast USA….

Show Times:

Friday BigUp Radio at the following times 5am, 11am, 5pm, 11pm EST or 9am, 3am, 9pm, 11pm Cyprus Time! http://www.bigupradio.com

Live stream @ http://on-fm.com/load/by_music_style/reggae/big_up_roots_reggae_32_kbps/25-1-0-228

Friday UrbanIndieRadio Los Angeles, USA, 8pm PST http://www.urbanindieradio.com/./

Sunday Chillout Radio South Africa, 7-8.00pm GMT http://www.mauriceproductions.co.za

Sunday HOT FM 10-12 midnight HOT FM 98.6 Larnaca

Monday Inspiration FM 24.00- 1am 107.8FM in Northampton, UK http://www.inspirationfm.co.uk/

Sunday 7pm Irie FM Hamilton, Bermuda http://streema.com/radios/Irie_98.3_FM_Bermuda

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A Day & Night with Cutty Ranks in Kingston, Jamaica

I first met Cutty Ranks in the early 1990’s when Raggamuffin Dancehall DJ’s and Singers were getting signed by major record labels. It was a strange interview. All the mainstream media hype in the UK on Raggamuffin artists meant that all of a sudden even ‘The Times’ and ‘The Guardian’ were sending journalists to interview Jamaican artist who they did not have a clue about. These bods did not know even one word of Patois let a lone any tunes by the artists themselves.  The venue was a wine bar in Brixton and we was round a table, a posh journalist, Cutty and me. Within a minute, once Cutty Ranks started talking, the other journalist went as red as a beetroot. I could not comprehend his discomfort. It must have had something to do with Cutty Ranks opening statement about being Raggamuffin and coming from the ‘Ghetto’ – ‘I am fi real’ he declared…and is was like a knockout punch, the other journalist departed. So he focused on me and a discussion about his recent releases. I wanted to go back to ‘Gunman Lyrics’, which he found quiet impressive, that some one knew his first big tune and after that, the interview flowed just as easy as water down Dunn’s River.

The 12

‘Gunman Lyrics’ one of Cutty Ranks first big tunes, released on the Techniques label

Some twenty years later, I am in Jamaica, to attend The International Reggae Conference at The University of West Indies, its Shrove Tuesday, a national holiday. I want to go to the beach but a link up with Cutty Ranks is on. I am anxious. Its about 2 pm. I have walked around the deserted campus, taken some photos and written an introduction to my friend Andreas Tomblin’s Art exhibition ‘Spontaneous & Raw’. I spent much of the day under  a big Acacia Tree. I called it my ‘Meditation Tree’. For some reason most of the time when I was online I sat under this tree – mainly because there was no wireless in the hotel room and the only other place where it worked was the breakfast lounge. I felt much more comfortable here, with some background ambiance from various birds tweeting some interesting notes and melodies.

Meditation Tree near MONA Visitors Lodge UWI Campus Kingston Jamaica

Meditation Tree near MONA Visitors Lodge UWI Campus Kingston Jamaica

I hail up Cutty by 2.30…he is jovial and tells me he spent the night in a recording studio and that he will pass by to pick me up soon. Now this word ‘soon’ or the phrases ‘mi reach soon’ or ‘soon reach’ needs some clarification. I learned from the first day with any appointment that ‘soon’ could mean 10 minutes, it could also mean 2 hours. And arranging multiple appointments with artists in a ‘soon come’ type of culture like JA was not a wise thing, especially for some one like me no with no wheels to get around. So one major appointment / event per day, unless it was people I met through the conference, and patience my bredren, you are in Jamaica.

While waiting for Cutty I got talking with a security guard outside the hotel. When I told him who I was seeing his eyes lit up. Cutty is not only seen as a veteran MC (on the mic since 1979) he is also a national cultural asset who makes many Jamaicans proud. Mr Ranks arrives in a big black 4 x 4 –  a ‘diblokambono’ (double cabin) which would make many Cypriots proud. ‘Hail Haji Mike – lets go’ he said as I stepped into the vehicle.  We cruise around Kingston looking for somewhere to eat and start the interview and while Cutty drives he pulls tune after tune on the car stereo, all new stuff, enough to make a triple CD release! We also take some time out for a couple of snapshots…


Food is delicious….Cutty has shrimp I have rice and peas and jerk chicken. We talk and eat. Cutty Ranks is one of the few artists I have met who challenges and questions all kinds of inequities. The world crisis, banks and bankers robbing us all – “it’s not a colour ting any more, it’s not a black and white ting, it’s a people ting, worldwide’ he declares. Or the limited airplay opportunities for Jamaican artists on local radio airwaves due to corrupt practices of payola. I wont elaborate more on what he said, you can hear it all on the ‘Cutty Ranks Outernational’ podcast at the end of this blog piece. After food we head for home. Cutty lives near The University of West Indies, in a suburb on the hills. It’s a quiet area and just as we are about to disembark for his veranda for more conversations he breaks out into the most amazing on the spot rendition of ‘Mass Grave’ a heavy slice of reasoning from his recent release ‘Full Blast’. It’s great to share this with every one reading this, it was such a special experience…

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