BY FLORENCE AMAGIYA
Rhymzo is still doing his things regardless of the low hype reggae music is getting from the Nigerian media. He is an unrepentant top class reggae artiste renowned for his unique voice and style that sets him apart from the mediocre local reggae-like musicians you will find around the ghettos and street corners of Nigeria. He has been working hard in the studio, touring Europe and Asia and only recently did a remix with Jamaica’s all time legend, Cocoa Tea. In this chat; the Rastafarian bears it all on why he chose reggae music despite all the odds against that genre of music; his dreadlocks , his dress sense and many more. Excerpt:
I noticed that most Reggae artistes remain young despite their age, is there anything you guys take to that effect?
First of all, there is a misconception, when you’re very deep, a lot of people tend to think you are older than your actual age. Secondly, your diet means a lot. Personally, I avoid some foods , I eat mostly fresh foods like fruits and vegetables. Those things help you to keep your youth. A lot of people think you’re older because of your messages, because of your consciousness in music. Most times you are not as old as people actually think.
Being one of the best in the world of reggae, can you tell us how you started doing reggae music?
I was actually inspired by a Jamaican artiste called Euro, after that I started recording songs that sounded like him. But in the 90’s I deviated into hiphop, but as a deep person, after doing hiphop for some years, I discovered that hiphop was drifting another way which wasn’t conscious. I had to come back to reggae which gives me room to really express myself in serious terms. In other genres, you either talk about party or girls, but reggae helps you to talk about real stuffs. I try to learn something new in music everyday.
What are some of the setbacks you’ve encountered doing reggae music?
One of them is that the Nigerian media don’t really give reggae music a chance to grow. Other genres get a lot of airplay, even the upcoming ones. A lot is happening in reggae that people don’t pay attention to, because our society doesn’t really support reggae. The multinationals are supporting hiphop and Afrobeat, while reggae artistes are being left on their own. We’ve been working hard trying to beat that.
Do you think it’s because your songs are basically about fighting for justice?
I think that’s part of it. Other reasons are that the youths of these days don’t really listen to serious talks. Everyone just want to sit somewhere,drink and jump, that’s why reggae music is not respected out here, because reggae music deals with serious concepts. Most times, the issues talked about in our songs rub off on government and other higher powers, which sometimes leads to poor airplay. I recently did a song about the government and corruption, but it wasn’t aired and I later did one talking about Boko Haram, it still wasn’t played. But in every other place, they say these are very nice songs, but in Nigeria, nobody regards it. Once, the government is mentioned in your music, it’s dead. And reggae music deals with the natural and reality.
What is reggae music all about?
Reggae music is both a spiritual music and a voice for the people. It is that genre that speaks for the people. You can’t act flamboyant as a real reggae artiste or a Rastafarian . Reggae music is just natural vibes, there’s no artificial stuff attached.
What’s your real name?
My real name is Churchill. But my stage name is Rhymzo. I’m partly Benin and Bayelsa, but I didn’t grow up in any of those places, so I can’t speak any of the languages. I spent a lot of time abroad, now I’m in Lagos.
Besides doing reggae, what else do you do?
I do promotions and productions. That takes a lot of my time, because most times, I’m out there doing promotions in those places where reggae music is highly accepted.
Being a reggae artiste, what kind of music do you produce?
I’m a real producer, not a beat maker. So, I produce all kinds of music, jazz, hiphop and so on. I worked with Goldie, I’ve recorded Sunny Neji, Modele. I produce everything, because I’m a musician not a beat maker.
Do you have a family?
Yes. I’ve had one for ten years. I have a little daughter that is six years old and they are in Nigeria with me.
You are looking good, are you really particular about what you wear?
I’m conscious of what I wear because in Nigeria, a lot of reggae artistes have sent out an impression to the public, that as a reggae artiste you have to look dirty and tattered, which is wrong. That’s why I’m very conscious of what I wear.
Let’s talk about your hair, how long have you been carrying it?
For thirteen years.
How much would I give you to cut it?
( Laughs) Someone has actually begged me with a hundred thousand. Nothing can make me cut it. It’s my identity, I’m a Rastafarian. I believe in living natural, the way God made me. I feel naked without dreadlocks. Sometime, when I was younger, my mum cut my hair, I felt so shy and naked. It gives me a lot of confidence.
Is there something the hair does for you?
I feel that the Almighty who created the hair has a purpose for it. In the Bible, there is a place that says the hair is a covering. The hair is like a crown to the Black man and should be allowed to grow. Even the White people don’t really cut their hair, they trim theirs, but they made us cut ours, they felt we were animals. I’m surprised that most Africans still keep to that humiliating attitude.