Interview with Michael Rose

by Andrew Chong
Editor of Urban Beat Magazine
at KTRU studios, Houston

( Email  Andrew Chong  here )

Urban Beat - You haven't been to Houston in a LONG time... since 1985.   What have you been doing with yourself?

Michael Rose - Well, I've been doing recordings, and I have this farm in Jamaica where I employ people and try to help the youths... You know, try to take them off of the guns and them vibes there...

UB - You've got a new album on the Heartbeat label, Dance Wicket, and it showcases some excellent musicians.  Can you tell us a little bit about who's playing on the latest album?

MR - Mafia and Fluxy.   The album was recorded part in London and the other half in Jamaica. If you know Grafton, which is Mikey Bennett's studio... Recorded some of the tracks there. It's a good vibe working with Mafia and Fluxy because, on my first solo album that was done on Heartbeat... the self-titled Michael Rose (like Short Tempered, the song)... Mafia and Fluxy were the musicians on the album. It's like they wanted to work with me, and me and them produce an album together, including their manager, Jackie Davidson. We did it, and I like the album very much. Yeah.. good vibes.

UB - You're frequently referred to as `Grammy' Rose, based on the fact that you were the recipient of the `first-ever' Reggae grammy as the frontman for the famed, Black Uhuru.  Tell us what your feelings are about that.

MR - To tell you the truth, it's an honor to receive a Grammy, you know? But certain things don't get to I&I head... like, you're frightened because you get a Grammy.  But to receive a Grammy is a big honor, because the four corners of the earth know that this group, Black Uhuru, won the Grammy.

UB - Did you see a heightened interest in your music as a result of that... more touring dates, etc.?

MR - Well, the group had it's peak, you know, and the group fell apart then. We didn't have anything verbally or anything, but like they decided they wanted to continue Black Uhuru, and I decide to cool out.  Because sometimes it's ``all that glitters is not gold'' ... so sometimes you just have to make vanity go, you know... because of Babylon and the system.

UB - Tell us a little bit about the current tour you're on.

MR - I think we're in our third week right now of the tour, and so far the tour is going smooth. It's like a family on the road right now, because this tour is supposed to be lasting somewhere around 13 months.  It's like, instead of living in Jamaica, we're living on the road right now.   :-)
So it's all about work right now. It's not really a money making tour... it's more a promotional level, and I'm out here right now because of the love of the music... to support the fans that support the records.  So this is the time of embracing... Rastafari.

UB - Do you have an overseas leg planned?

MR - Yeah.. we're supposed to be going to Europe too in November... South America. We're gonna be here for a long while...

UB - You've done a number of tunes combination style over the years with various other artists... deejays and singers.  Who would you say is your current favorite?

MR - Well, you see with music now, you know, we don't have favoritism when it comes around to dealing with artists. It's like, we just have Irie vibes amongst working with one another.  Nothing exceptional about the works, you know? Because I've done a track with Shabba... Shine Eyed Girl... and I've done recently, Lion in the Jungle, that was recorded in London... myself and Maxi Priest.  And I've done recently a tune called "Karolina" in Sweden. It's a remake of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"  It goes something like [sings]:
      "Guess who's coming to dinner, Karolina.."

You know what I'm saying?
      "Guess who's coming to dinner, Karolina.."

And it goes like:
      "Oh I can see you brought some food for me, Karolina.
      And some bredren coming over the hills with some brand new for you.
      So in times like these, we must live as one.   Karolina, Karolina.
      Guess who's coming to dinner..."

It's a duet with myself and Dr. Alban.   Dr. Alban does like House music.  He's from Africa.

UB - He had a huge hit several years ago. He was a dental student, or something like that... but his first love was music.
The updated versions of your Black Uhuru songs that you do during your live shows are *always* crowd favorites.  Can you tell the listeners what they might expect tonight?

MR - Well, you know how show business go.  It's like, if you talk the show, people will stay home(!)  So we're gonna be doing from everything... all the albums come up... from Red, Sensimilla, Chill Out, the Anthem album. The self-titled, Michael Rose, on Heartbeat, and the Be Yourself and Dance Wicket, you know?

UB - So people should expect to be staying out late tonight? [laughs]

MR - Well, yeah.. everywhere the shows we've done so far, everyone's been having a good time.

UB - Tell us a little bit now about the band you have with you.

MR - Well, it's the SANE Band.  And SANE means, Sounds Against Negative Expression.   I was the first one that break that band back in Jamaica, and then like, other artists started to use them, like on the road and ting like that. Well, the table turn, and it's like the SANE Band come forward in position again.  So we're gonna be on the road a long, long while this time around.
The band consists of the guitarist, Lincoln;  the keyboard player, Sheldon;  the drummer called Mark;  the bass player is Trevor;  and we have two female singers on the road with us, Melissa and Kateon.  We're working together quite nice, you know. It's like a happy family on the road... no problem.
Also.. the tour is called Dance Wicket, in case it wasn't announced.  This is the Dance Wicket Tour, and it's really hot!  Yes I.

UB - Do you see the return of consciousness to Reggae music continuing to grow, and what signs do you see in the musical community, both in Jamaica and internationally, that reflects this?

MR - Well, you have a lot of upcoming artists right now that are more conscious on the level of the cultural dancehall vibes. Because, if you notice, even Dance Wicket is not really like the old-time sort of a sound. It's of a dancehall, cultural vibes.  Even some of the mixes are different, where even the Yankee them in America can relate to it due to the mix.   So, you know, it's open, because there's no barrier when you come on to music...

UB - Reggae music has always been about consciousness, social justice, and other themes like that.  What are some of the issues that you are concerned with today.

MR - Well, like I've just done a track produced by Winston Riley in Jamaica, the Technique.   The song is called "Jailhouse Rammed Till You Can't Ram No More."  It's a vibes, you know?  I'm in America touring right now, and when you check the Tele,  you see like in Atlanta, Georgia where you know them treating the prisoners. You see, people have people locked up in jail, and then let them out back. It's like them all do something and them going back, because when them come on the street, them no really have nothing to do.  What they should have done is, while they are in prison... because a man maybe do a crime or whatever the case is... you should maybe have them on like Yoga.  Have them on a different vibes.  Some people.. maybe a farmer.. and maybe them get a little allowance or whatever it is.  But a lot of energy. Them a go pump iron, and sit down and watch TV every day, and it's like energy has been wasted. Them need to have a program for the prisoners them, because you will always have prisoners.

So this is what the music is all about right now, because they are human beings that way.  They have feelings too, so you just have to deal with people like people.

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