I Wayne ADD

Interview: Life Teachings, I-Wayne Grows a New Release

12/08/2011 by Justine Amadori Ketola

Interview: Life Teachings, I-Wayne Grows a New Release

Cliffroy Taylor aka I-Wayne has a new release, his third on VP Records, Life Teachings.  And by the sounds of it, he has had bountiful life teachings to draw and learn from to develop his sound.  My first impression of I-Wayne was at a radio interview in Los Angeles a few years back and I felt he was not a verbose person, but a humble person.  He is however quite ebullient, wise, and talkative, expounding on nature  the promise of life and  the never-ending quest for knowledge, and gathering wisdom from nature.

In his oration, he presents us with both sides of the debate that surrounds him which is such a "natural" part of life in Jamaica.  Open discourse and the power of the word in thought and action - Jamaica as a culture is a place of poetry and metaphor, with degrees of meaning and mystical implications. Which is why certain extreme topics covered in the music can leave long-lasting impressions, whether they are good or bad, understood or misrepresented, underground or mainstream.

I-Wayne opens up when speaking of the cultivation work he has done and the type of "community gardener" he has become. We meander through the garden of Life Teachings, addressing  select topics from the songs, from the upliftment of women to legalization, but for the most part the livity that is I-Wayne.

You are characterized by your peers as a a hard worker. What was it like for you growing up and how did you get your musical training?
First of all I grew up around a musical family, some of the time with my mommy and daddy but most of the time I grew up with my auntie  and my aunt's husband who is Ansel Collins.  Ansel Collins is a very great keyboard player from Jamaica and I would be around him rehearsing and making instruments and watching Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare and a lot of other musicians.  So most of time (at the studio) a me answer the phone and great musicians and great singers call.  And my auntie is a singer and in my family a whole heap of great singers, but not take it so serious, they are mostly in the church choirs and dem ting deh.   And I have a next cousin, a singer by the name of Presley, Presley used to deal with it as well. 

Did he release with Sky High on the Sky High label?
Ah right, with Sky High and him link with Luci and the whole works.  So while Presley there singing me learning you know. Presley was one of the ones who used to show me how to come off, how to deal with the ting.  Cause I am there when he is rehearsing something,  tracks that Sky High had.  I never really get to learn how to play any of the instruments as yet.  But probably in the future.  From being around Ansel Collins and Presley I learned a lot. 

On the new album you have a combination on the album with Assasin, "Fire Song" where  you call out those who "sell them soul just to buss." What do you see people doing to sell their souls in the industry?
It's all around, before the whole soul selling thing became so popular and the whole talk about the soul-selling thing I actually take the song and put that line, "you sell your soul just to bust" inna the song.  It's just a meditation, natural inspiration what me get from how the people behave, and what is taking place around the I at the time, u know what me a say?  What they are willing to do to sell out and to entertain, working with demons madness and badness and wickedness, me really haffi chant against it. 

Me really love how Assasin a sort out di ting as well, cause me just have the idea and the chorus and call him and make him hear it and ting and from there it is a joy to know that he deal with that track so excellent still. 

Do you see yourself as a rebel in the industry? Have you always rebelled from what you would consider "doing wrong?"
I mostly rebel in my songs, you can hear the rebel vibes. I am not really a violent person I just don't flip up and say 'bwai, just because a thing is not going my way I am going to start a fight and ray.'   Sometimes these things incite me enough to write a song. You feel like the industry give you a fight and don't want to hear your work, before me take a bottle and ray mi just go give a song bout it, that feeling of bad vibes.

How did you become I-Wayne and you are also called Fire Wayne sometimes?
My family dem called me Dwayne so it is like I got that name from some Idren a friend named Groundfire.   Some friends came around and said Dwayne come on you no ready and then Groundfire say 'I Wayne to the Ites' through the vibration.  And the next rasta Idren   say 'Nah man, a I Wayne man', so from them times we work with the name.    And then from after that I have some idren that just say Fire Wayne like Firestar and Buzzrock some other artists as well. So you know some people say  I-Wayne a more cool calm vibe, and the Fire Wayne a more lava, fiery vibe.  

Your harmonies are so deep and  you develop very intricate rhymes. Do you work out harmonies in studio, especially if you are working with background singers, as well as lyrics, or do you prepare those in advance of the vocal recording? What is the process for your songwriting?
It s not hard, cause you know when me start, composing di ting, me get the whole picture, me can feel the vibes , and I feel the harmony can be right there.  So, sometimes I am not even at the studio while them set the harmonies.  I have an engineer named Nigel that is from Anchor Studio and he will just work out the harmony with them and show them, he's been working with me from Lava Ground days. So even before then, before me established, so him know how me set the arrangements for the harmonies.  So if I am not at the studio and him set something wrong and me listen to it and its wrong me go change it. 

Do you record with the song and the riddim is built around the song?
No like now I am creating the song to fit the riddim, sometimes we have the song and we create the riddim to fit the song like in the studio with Sly and Robbie and some other musicians and I am singing and they are getting the vibe of what I am singing so they are following the vibe following the melody and moods that I am giving them from the melody and the moods come the riddim.  

How did you find Rastafari and how did it find you? Did you have specific teachers or leaders in your community or did you seek them out?
I grow around a lot of Rastas in Jamaica and so, listening to the culture music you know Ansel Collins already a whole heap of cultural music, Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff and Burning Spear, them ones there, Culture the whole works, Marcia Griffiths, Freddie McGregor.    Me love that soul and that vibe, that clean energy from morning, cause I am always about goodness, and so me check and you know the dancehall vibe sound nice at times, but me just check for the reality more, the realistic vibe and not just rhyme and style and fashion.  The roots vibe, I was very attracted to the roots vibe, from a very early age.  From the beat, me love the whole vibe.  Me love Shaggy's vibe as well as Anita Baker as well as a whole heap of different genres and vibe. The roots vibe really helped me to see the way and see the light and the right way to go.    Its just natural, once you are promoting life and dealing with life you know I am all about that. The right way of life is just as natural as the bird.  If you have a religious man that attend church on Saturday or Sunday…. I just give thanks for life every second that's how me really deal with it, me no really wait till Saturday or Sunday to give thanks me give thanks any time and every time.  And it is really a natural genuine vibe as I grow up I listen for the truth, when me check the ragga vibe and the roots vibe, I see the truth in it. 

Getting to the daily works, you sing about preparing some land and perhaps some captured land in your community that the people took over and perhaps you are also cultivating now. So what happens on the land throughout the year?
Jamaica is an island whe a lot of fruits, very fertile soil, breadfruit trees, any type of fruit trees, neesberry, guinep all type of fruit, orange, mango, banana, farming and planting is not hard.   You could be eating a fruit and you have the seed and you just toss it, on fertile land it just take root and grow just like that, all the time it happen, someone just toss a mango seed like over the gully or anywhere in the fertile soil and it just grow up and take root.  In a place wha you call Cacia Height in Portmore cause you know more time me travel to the rural as well inna di mountains as me have some family in the mountains. So we have a vineyard up there so more time we just go and clean it up and just put in some more trees some more fruit trees. Me uncle and me cousin wha help me more time, so this is just a natural thing for me you know, not extra hard, nothing to get too excited about, natural and normal and just simple life. For the music you know you need the energy and the strength you need life food whether you are a nurse or a journalist or whatsoever you need the energy and the strength from the fruits and deem ting deh.  So a place in Portmore we call Cacia Heights and the next place where we call Lava Ground and thats in Cumberland,  but thats in Portmore, the same place. 

Is it a place where there is lava rock and surrounded by soil?
We call it lava ground because you know it is lava that causes most of the plants and the trees to grow, it is the life blood of the earth just like the oil. We are just giving thanks for lava and reminding the people that me see some people that me nah wan say 'bwai, a dem own up deh so and so I show them that here so lava ground the lava can just splash and burn and man and the lava can just burn over the city and the city is no more.' And the whole vibe change up so me just remind them say 'Watcha, this is the lava ground,' so we just have a lickle place inna Cumberland where we just have a heights up and grow some corn and we just call over thereso lava ground. So the owner and the founder is really Lava B or who we call Fire B.

Cacia Heights,  what is the origin of this place?
Some type of tree (acacia) with thorns are there. Anywhere the I dem go, a light works a gwan, so we used to call the Cacia Heights the back bush where the people dem just throw garbage and them thing over there, like a big open land.  So the I dem decide say 'bwai, we a go set that thing up over there, we a go burn the rubbish them and take away the old cars, the old iron and dem ting dere, gather the tree and the bush that we cut and make sure they are dry and ting and light the fire.' It bring out insects that trouble all the plant dem so it is a burn and purge up and ting, some part of the soil is actually clean, so when you burn it kind of give you a loam-style type of vibe, so with the sun and the cleaning it burns and crystalizes it becomes more penetrable and the water can get to it.  Cause you know that it could trap the water and rot the roots of the plant.  So we just throw some seeds cause the soil is so fertile, sugar cane forward, melon, you name it, coconut trees, all type of things.   Cause most of the time we go out on the street and eat some fruits, we just gather the seeds and carry them up to the Cacia and we have a nursery, in a very fertile place, where the water keeps running and we just throw them right beside so you know say them haffi forward. So when them forward now, we just take them and transplant them and put different things pon the land, right now it is over there flourishing. 

But because of certain bad vibes we haffi just leave out these places and preserve for a later date, but after a time these tribal wars and bad vibes just start up inna di place we half just leave some a dem place you know But I am still in Portmore.  Bad vibes start in a place, some times you haffi just walk it out for a while.

Anywhere the I dem go we inna di earth, preserving and planting because we live on an island and the soil is very fertile. So we could be eating a paw paw or any other fruits we have the seeds for or sugar cane, we get the cane to put in the soil and it will grow and spread, and we can have a big vineyard out of that and there we give thanks for life, we just keep doing that, keep advancing in life. 

And you don't use any chemicals in the cultivation?
No chemicals, the only people that use chemicals is when they are mass producers,  the artificial fertilizers will make the ting dem bigger and so you can produce more to sell.  We rather to keep it natural you know, organic, you know what me a say, we don't want to force the grow, we are not soaking them with any chemicals.  Even though we are going to the market and we are buying some yam and some other things, we are not even knowing how the farmers them grow some of them products you know. More time you supposed to grow your own, so now and then when me have the time, me still go visit the farm, me link up the uncle at the vineyard inna di hills.  We just link up and we just go up there and till up the soil, plough it up and chop out certain grass around the route and give the tree dem some space.  Wiss and dem ting deh growing over the plant and gather them together and burn them, while the fire burn a lot of insect you know, normally they feed on most of the crops and the smoke repel them, so it is like a natural repellent.  And so the fire start burn and the insects start fly out the locusts and so more time you just burn the fire in the bush and run way lots of insects and they half stay far from the land.

We come from the tradition where your parents can show you certain ways of planting at certain times of the season.   Sometimes you can get out a book as well, it can show you the season time, whether full moon or half or quarter, or dark night, no moonshine,  different times when you plant certain things. Whole heap of lickle vibes with the earth. So me now, you know learning is a never ending process, you keep learning you keep advancing.What kind of a health regimen do you follow?  You are vegan, we hear you sound about that in the lyrics, are there any specific roots or treatments you are pursuing?  You mention cerasee in your music and encourage people to avoid meat.
Naturally as always earth has always been taking care of the people, whatever you want Mother Earth have it, so just showing the people the natural remedies from earth, better than certain ones, that go through a lot of processing.  Love life more and give thanks for what Mother Nature has presented and so I show that the fruits are here for the I-dem purpose.  It is not a mistake they are all here for life purpose, for healing purpose as usual make your food be your medicine.  The mango, all the fruit all the veggies are the people dem medicine.  That is why we have to apprecialove it and show more love to it and give thanks fi it, we just a share the knowledge with them and because Mother Nature prepare it for us, to just fuljoy it.   Simple as that, ah no really nothing that hard, so me remind them of certain remedies like the cerassee and the purging.   And the next one is the neem, you can boil it like the cerassee and keep it in the fridge like water, to purge your whole system to make you feel energetic and rejuvenated.  A whole heap of different bushes, and ting,  you have a next one we call the leaf of life. And of course the noni. 

You grow noni too?
Yes, I have that in my yard right now, I am looking at the tree. Ripe ones and green ones are on the tree.  That is how me living, to tell you the truth, we nah call vegan or vegetarian, we just boil soup and porridge, only true we don't put any meat in it.  We use the salt, mostly the sea salt, of course they would say we no eat salt we a rasta.   But if you check it out, the earth has salt in it, ripe banana and veggies have it, you have to know how to cook  and use the salt.  You can use the pepper and the coconut juice, to make it strong and make it weak and stretch it with a lot of water.  You can add just a little bit (of salt) just to encourage it, so we know a lot of these things. So me eat cooked food, but not every second. Sometime we just deal with some fruits, so when me say vegetarian and no eating of flesh, no fish because fish is not a vegetable, we just have to be realistic, chicken is not vegetable, beef is not vegetable, cheese, milk, you know what me a say?  So we just have to be realistic, if the cheese or dem ting deh have the soya or the natural coconut milk or almond milk….

Natural was here long before the artificial because, it is out of the natural that them get the materials to make the artificial.   From nature, all of the ingredients come from nature so the still have to go to nature to put it in some process which makes it harmful, when mother nature prepare it  - a the right preparation that. Even though still cooked green bananas and green breadfruit, we know say we can pick a ripe banana and you get a sweet vibe from the breadfruit when it ripe.

A lot of knowledge a lot of things we really give thanks for fi know say, life have so much, what the  I dem still experience as yet, life have so much more to unfold, so much more.  A lot more than you can even imagine, we really give thanks for life and to know that life is so unlimited so then me can always have something to sing about in my songs, something to reach and strive for.

You exemplify the upliftment of women both with your breakout song, "Can't Satisfy Her" and many others lyrics you have throughout our career.  Do you have any words to the young girls getting into trouble and being victimized by their bodies abusing alcohol all of these things that are happening these days?
You know that the song Empress Divine just a show them say  it is as simple as that, you are destroying yourself. Me just want to make them know, 'watcha now, your mommy and your daddy may feel hurt about it but you are tearing yourself naturally you know, when you   really check it you are destroying yourself and it is just not right.' Moving around with so many different souls and energy and vibe and mood.  They haffi classify themselves, more valuable, that it is a nature of heights them don't hold and bother with the nastiness to tell you the truth it is really a nasty vibe.  And you know cleanliness is always good, so me promoting cleanliness, no nastiness, no running around and juking, we don't really need that.  Females no need it, males no need it, even though you know in Africa one man can have even 50 odd wives if he can afford to take care of, yuh know.  But probably it is a more uniform thing than running around with anyone we you buck in the club or in the dance or anywhere. 

They actually work together and have their homes in the same area and take care of each other's children.
So that is a whole different vibe instead of running around like a beast with stranger, one night,  and you just drunk, or just like me say in the tune Drugs and Rum Vybz, some of them just go in the club and get drunk and just sleep with anyone.  You would not want your daughter or son to go somewhere in a club and them just find themselves in a house the next morning, and them no know where they are, they don't know what took place the night before, just madness, you need to be sober.

The drunken madness contribute to most of these vibes.  So really haffi let them know the nastiness no right and they haffi put a stop it you know.  Just love life, if you just love life you would stop the madness and don't wait until it get too late.  Watcha now me love the ladies you know what me a say, check for the ladies.   If you really love life, that is why some people would not sing a song like that, as they want the approval from the crowd so them could be a part of it.   But me no mind telling the truth, because me know say I am doing good for life.  Me know me helping myself and helping others at the same time, so me haffi remind them to be careful. Have to have someone warn them to be careful everyone can't just be lost and be sleeping at the same time.  Some of them have to be awake and say 'watcha now mi bredda', you see the sex buying it no right and u see the sex selling sister that no right, don't encourage the brother some buy you' and ray.  Jump on the fire, me a beat down the one and beat down the other. Me make male and female know say don't bother with the flesh selling and the buying. It is just one madness. 

What about the Rebelution collaboration on the song,"So High", were you with them at the time or was it sent to you to record your portion?
Actually it was sent to me. Neil (Robertson) from VP,  he really like the type of mood and type of vibe so he sent me the tracks and when me hear them me really like the vibe and me really like the mood and how Rebelution deal with it as well. Me just listen to what them a take in and what dem about, (I-Wayne sings) "Who got the herb when I'm dry" me make them know my part, "Ital in the throat,  mi feel like a bird in the sky a float." 

There is evidence that herb is a natural medicine, a cure for cancer. What is your view of legalization, we see you calling for it on the song "Herb Fe Legalize" on the new album.   Have you ever been detained for herb before?  You are asking for redress from all of the heavy weapons in the community do you think herb is a natural medicine against violence?
First of all herb is like healing, if you don't have love for herb you don't have love for life.  Why is the plant so bad that people have to go through so much bad vibes, so much struggle?  Because me can boil a cup of herb tea, it is not just for smoking,  you can pick any piece of leaf on the road and smoke it if you want but the marijuana is very special.  So tell me something if them leave me with the tobacco or the cigarette or the Matterhorn or the Craven A (Jamaica's brands) or whatsoever, any type of cigarette vibe there and say 'bwai you can wan and go kill yourself with it,' why they no leave me with the herb and say 'wan kill yourself with it.' Tell the truth now, be realistic, you see what I am saying? In the last part of the tune me say, "charging I for herb is just a waste of time herb aint no crime it keep I in the rights  state of mind. Rebelution have that in the chorus as well, (I-Wayne sings) "Keep I in the right state of mind." It is like they know the good that herb is doing for life, but they are just fighting it down.  Just like how they allow the tobacco they could have just leave the herb. Now they come and burn down the vineyards them the herb vineyards them.  They could just go burn down some tobacco farms and make sure say them get rid of all of the alcohol. Throw away all of the alcohol. If them being realistic and them want to heal and clean up this earth and make the thing flow right they need to see which part to take up. They want to search you, box you down, thief up your place, mash up the place, when them a search the herb, or when them search weapon or whatever.  Them feel that if you have the herb you have a whole heap of weapon.  We have people who deal with herb and just life them a promote so they are not going to need no heap of weapon. 

And as we say the beasts them want to be in control, they want to have it for them youth so they can juggle it and them hide and use it, whether them want to be doctor, lawyer and nurse, them hide and smoke it.  They might tell you when you go to the doctor and the doctor says, you don't have to put no tobacco inna it, but when they smoke it they don't put the tobacco as they know how harmful it is.  Them boil the tea, them smoke it them use it, herb a like medicine.  It inna Amsterdam , you can go into a certain coffee shop and a certain place and get it naturally. Why them no legalize it in Jamaica or all over? They are just being hypocritical and wicked. They don't want to see poor people strive, and I can see the wickedness in their evil eye, so me really haffi say 'bwai you know, legalize di ting.' 

My first impression of your vibe was that you were a quiet person but now I would consider you more of an observant person, vs a quiet person.  What has your personality as an observant person meant moving in the complex world of Jamaica?
The humbleness or the observant vibe is there a lot, being humble.  Because of course if you are not humble certain way and get excited too quick, you have some people, they would like to destroy your vision or your dreams or what you would call it.  But I would rather to say your vision, someone that would come with a certain dream and it would a flop it or show off with it,  so them would just push it down and ray.  So me, I behave more humble. For instance, they would a say how you mean you can afford a  million or thousand dollar or some type of chain?  Why you naw wear them ting deh like every other artist? A tie up this way a whole heap a gold chain and type of thing, they must seek some form of attraction and cause them some trouble pon demself. While me no bother with that trouble there. When some people forward they just do some natural beads round the neck like some natural stones some can find pon di beach and when mi carry when me go somewhere a Brazil or something.  Some natural mood vibes where you can have some different different scenery than the one rock, some special type of stones.  Some simple natural type of things, even though gold a natural and silver a natural and ray but even more are the lickle beads and seeds  that I have around my neck.  So I would rather fi trod that way deh.

A whole heap of vanity and the whole heap of bling and dem ting deh attract a certain demonic vibe around you. You don't even realize that most of the demons really don't care for life at all. People that don't have any money and just run up and down on those type of things.  Mi no bother with those things mi would rather just keep it natural and simple.  So less bad vibes less likely for people to see you with a whole heap of gold around your neck and just cut it off and run away with a piece of stone or jewelry. So we know the more simple they don't classify  as valuable, but to life them valuable, because in a certain place on earth, you have people who value a simple piece of stone, just a simple stone, a simple pebble, some people value it more than even the gold or the silver or the diamond. So even when people have on them gold they have a piece a gold they would throw it out in the yard and whatsoever, we have some other people, they think different.  A whole heap of different different vibes. 

What is the tour plans, where are you traveling and what are your goals for your career?
Keep doing good music, inspiring my children, keep sharing the knowledge, because while me share me teach, because me learn something from the people, and so some can share that knowledge.  You know in December and January, I really want to start a more serious vibe on the tour activities, Europe and some other Caribbean islands, do a promotional show……