Skarra Mucci ADD
Interview: Skarra Mucci - Return Of The Raggamuffin
04/12/2012 by Markus Hautmann
Skarra Mucci is a living example of the concept of diversity. Born in Jamaica he evolved into a real world citizen, spending most of his time with touring Europe as an exceptionally gifted entertainer. Whether as a sound system MC or as a Reggae artist - Skarra knows how to deliver all facets of the Reggae spectrum. His new album Return Of The Raggamuffin is dedicated to a golden era of Dancehall, bringing back the vibes from way back when. And even the vibes of the future as Skarra explains to Reggaeville.
Skarra, first of all: What is the meaning of your name?
The first three letters is "Ska", "S", "K", "A" and then you have the "R" which is the Reggae. And because I'm the Raggamuffin you have the "RA". Then you have the "MU" which stands for music and the two "C" are for my two first names. And of course the "I".
A lot of the contemporary Dancehall tunes take a direction towards hiphop or even dance riddims. You go in the other direction. On Return of the Raggamuffin you go back to the roots of dancehall. What's your personal relationship to this time?
I was young and I was loving it. Somehow it was the greatest time of dancehall. When you listen to the songs that were created in these years, in the early seventies to the early nineties - Greatest tracks ever. The songs after 94 up the line - there is a lot of songs. Some are good, some are classic. But most of them they come for a while and go. Like back then Beenie Man and Bounty used to have five, six singles every week. From all of those tunes that came out that months only one is still there. But the creation before, all that old hits when the people didn't even have that kind of equipment that is available today but the music sound like 1000 time better. Like that is the future music. It don't sound like it's from the past. When I look at this old music even from Lee Scratch and you listen the sound it's incomparable to today. The quality is much better. And I think that's where I belong.
There are often voices complaining about the development of Dancehall away from Reggae. Do you think Dancehall will ever relate to "classical Reggae" again?
It's already going there. When you look at people like Don Corleon doing Dub now then you can see where it's going. Going right back round there. All the people doing this dubstep bringing it back to dub. And if you look what is selling: Tarrus Riley, Romain Virgo etc. So the people did not lose that Reggae touch. There's just no artist representing it. Back in my days they used to tell you: "if you is a singer you is a singer. If you is a deejay you is a deejay." The singjay thing was like underrated. But nowadays you have people singjaying, you have people doing everything. And that's why a lot of people are saying: "hey" when you listen to a reggae tune, when you listen to some Beres Hammond or to some of the dancehall godfather Johnny Osbourne and you listen to their tunes then you realize that today's reggae is not half as good as it used to be. The people somehow lost -how to say- the spice or whatever. So I am just trying my best to keep that or at least do music for the people who like this and who are loving that kind of an old-fashioned music. Because I think that's the future of the reggae music. The beginning is the end. It's a circle. So where you start you will end up there.
But you overcame the distinction between a deejay and a singer?
I give you an example: In the 80ies Junior Reid told me I should choose what I would do. If I'm singing or if I'm deejaying. I think it was 96, the year when they kept the Summerjam in Tübingen with -I think it was- Gregory Isaacs. I was on stage with Aswad. He said to me: "Decide what you want to do. When you come to Jamaica I will voice you." A lot of times people asked: "What are you doing? Are you a deejay? Are you a singer?" I used to hear that. That's why people like Pinchers used to sing. And when you hear people like Tenor Saw -for me he was a singjay- but he was more singing. So he was accepted as a singer. You have to remember back then deejays didn't get royalties because they did not see that as singing either. So it's a long way.
Taking into account all of your releases, performances etc. your popularity within the Dancehall fraternity should be much bigger.
Well, somehow I could say that, too. But I'm rated. I could be much more highlighted, yes. But I know what it is. When I came to Europe all these producers who were bussing people at those times like XXX Records and a lot more I begged them for riddims. They said: "We will send it on", but until today I never get one. It was always like this. And even the people like XXX and whoever never did any tune with me. Take for example the XXX release party in Hamburg a long time ago. Barney Millah brought me there. Gentleman call me, Patrice call me, Lobstarr call me. But then the promoter said I was not on the bill, they even turned off my mic. And nowadays they even send me riddims to voice. So I think it is because I work so hard and I built a hype for myself in the last three years that everybody thinks that now they should voice me.
Perhaps that was because you were not living in Jamaica. In those times the national Reggae scenes have not been that accepted like it is today. Reggae had to come from Jamaica. Only from Jamaica. You were not the "real deal" so to speak?
Could be. Everything is possible. The people are very funny in their thinking. It could be because I don't live in Jamaica and I am this MC from DeeBuzz and all those things. But I was not always only MCing. I started twelve years ago, me and Sebastian and Mr. Winter on the DeeBuzz thing. I was the one who kind of highlighted them to the road. I was the one who convinced my friends to let DeeBuzz tour as opening sound for Stone Love. Things like that to give them a little light. But a lot of people did not book me because of that. Because in Germany there is a sound competition. Everybody create a sound. And they would do everything not to book you. And if you play with this sound then that sound not gonna book you. It's like a big competition. So these might be the two factors: that I do not live in Jamaica and that sound system competition thing. But I don't really care, you know. So in 2010 I just started as Skarra Mucci. No sound, nottn. And see where it reached now.
Let's talk about The Return of the Raggamuffin. My favourite track is Raggamuffin, a reminiscence to some five or even more artists of that era.
It's more. It's Burro Banton, it's Panhead, it's John Wayne, it's Little Twitch, it's Freddy McGregor, it's Gregory Isaacs, it's Dennis Brown, Lone Ranger, a lot, lot, lot. Right through the whole song. Papa San, Lt. Stitchie. This song is made of the dancehall. There's just some small little parts of it that's really me. It's the real raggamuffin. Until the last part there is not even a real chorus. It was just a crazy work, man!
Raggamuffin is a reminiscence to your youth. I have the impression that most of your songs deal with personal experiences more or less. Is that true?
To be honest: Most of the songs I sing, I would say 95% is my life story in a different way. Let's take Life So Rich, just for you to understand. I was the first time alone in Italy, not having concerts, just being there. I was there with some friends and the people I should meet there didn't show up. I called one person, a DJ from Bari and she gave me the contact of some friends of hers. So I met them, linked up and had a nice time with them. And then we went to tour all of North Italy by car. We had travellers cheques. White and black people travelling together. Somehow in the North of Italy they never see black and white rolling that close, living that kind of lifestyle. They only see black people in the train station husseling or sleeping. So they did not want to change our travellers cheques. We had a lot of troubles but we got through life there without one dollar. We were living, we were having everything. We were just enjoying the nature and enjoying life. And when we got back to Milan and went to the friends' house that was just the way I felt when I was singing that song Life So Rich. After I finished singing it I fainted, had a blackout totally. So all this is my life. Even when I'm singing "Jah blessings. Hardtimes struggle and the money nah run." Even until right know. At the moment I'm touring so much that I don't even have an apartment right know. I'm a vagabond right now. I am a "Weltbürger" (world citizen), touring musician. I live sometime in Zurich, sometime in Germany, in Mannheim. I'm on tour, I'm a Jamaican, I'm just rolling through Europe. Most of the time I spend in Italy because there I have the most concerts at the moment. And the rest of the time I'm always in the studio. Zurich is my place because of Weedy G and the studio. And also my Jamaican comrades and family. So I'm having ties. And in Mannheim we have DeeBuzz, the Rude7 (club), my daughter. And also a studio where I can work. Problem is the time. It is always limited. I have to keep flowing with the tunes. I get riddims everyday. Some people must hate me because I didn't even get to do their riddim. They may think it's because of some kind of arrogancy, but it's just lack of time. Hopefully some day I will have my own studio. That will make it easier.
Being constantly on tour must be very exhausting, isn't it?
I like to associate with people. I like to chill in the crowd. Me no like chill backstage and be alone like some idiot. I don't need to travel with an entourage of people. When I'm in a new place I want to meet new people. I get on very good like that. I don't like to get a reputation of being arrogant and people cannot talk to me. No, sir! I'm doing this for the people. I don't do pop so I don't have to hide backstage. I'm doing reggae. And reggae music is for unification. Like many people them they see it as a music of freedom. So they don't care about dressing up and these things when they go out. They just feel nice. And that's the thing. Me just chill with the people them, have fun with the people them, support the people them. For without the people them I and I have no future.
Of course, I have to ask you about your contribution for the upcoming Reggaeville Riddim selection. "Love Mi Fi Me" is our first Reggaeville release. How did you get involved in the Reggaeville Riddim selection?
Morry from Oneness Records just asked me to voice the riddim. And I said "yes!". I am very thankful to Morry and Reggaville for their work and their support. They produced the song and covered whatever was needed to get the song done. Also to Sebastian from DeeBuzz (sound system) because he had a closer talk to Kip Rich. And the result, the song is just a big tune! I'm so happy about that and I'm so happy that Morry and Reggaeville took the time to support me.
How did you link up with Kip Rich?
Two or three years ago Kip Rich was at my birthday bash. And he liked the "Bounce It" riddim. But I told him that it was an old riddim. At that time I didn't have a riddim at hand that I thought would fit him. But now I could tell him: yeah, this is Reggaville, they are the biggest online Reggae magazine, they're gonna push it. So as it was already planned to do something together and Sebastian also was in Jamaica staying with Kip Rich, it's like a DeeBuzz family thing. When Kiprich performed in "Rude 7" (club in Mannheim, Germany) we went to the studio, I played the riddim, he liked it and we started to work.
You were in the studio together? Most collaborations are done via mail, skype etc.
Yes we were! We were together in Ragatac studio in Mannheim.
For us "non-artists": How does such a song develop? How does the creation of a tune work?
I really have to give it up for Kip Rich! I just went outside to have a smoke and when I came back in he was already on it, singing it piece for piece. It took him about an hour for the chorus. Then I did my verses and he was liking it. So yes, we did it together.
How do you find the topic for a song?
Most of the times it's like this: the riddim starts and then I just... - wow! Boom! And if the person I'm singing with has a topic I don't try to confuse the thing. I try to work something around that topic and try to make it fit. For example: I could have been much stronger on that tune, I could have been much more powerful and pushing. But I thought: no, the tune is mellow so keep it mellow and a little bit funny if possible. Because if I sounded stronger it wouldn't really harmonize. I don't just get a work done, I try to fit the thing.
You definitely did. Thank you so much for this wicked tune!
Bless you, me bredda. Thanks for everything. And to the world and all the Reggaeville readers: Skarra Mucci love unoo! The real raggamuffin is here, you see't! Nuff respect to the world out there! Support Reggae music! Keep it alive! You see me.
Listen to Love Mi Fi Me: