Yung J.R ADD
Interview with Yung J.R
09/17/2015 by Gardy Stein
What does it take to start a movement? A vision, of course. And the unfaltering support of friends and family who believe in you, as well as a platform to reach the masses. Talent and good looks do no harm, either. In the case of Yung J.R, all these preconditions are met, so we can safely assume that his debut album Start The Movement is the beginning of something big. Reggaeville took the chance to interview the industrious offspring of Junior Reid before he's too busy for idle talking. We learn some more about his album, an upcoming clothing line and his connection to Africa and the Ethiopian New Year:
Greetings! You just had the album launch. Can you tell us about it? How was it?
It was great, a wonderful experience! A whole heap of people came out, family, friends, producers, publishers…. Everybody came out to support, and I really appreciate that. The album was well received. I want to give everyone a shout-out, to each and everyone who came together to make this possible, you know, to start the movement!
Did you perform as well?
No, it was mostly like a listening session. We had a couple of performers there, Bongo Herman, for example. We had a lot of surprise guests and people were pleased. Also, the artists that are featured on the album, like Dre Island, came too and we give thanks for that. Togetherness.
And did a lot of Kingstonians came out? Was there a crowd?
Yeah man, a lot of people showed up, I didn't expect that! It was a lot of people showing support, around 200 or 250 of them. A nice turn-out, the movement was very large. I mean, some that are part of the movement couldn’t make it, but they sent someone to represent, so the vibration was just wonderful.
How were the reactions to the album so far, did you get feedback already?
We get feedback from all over the world! (laughs) On the social media, friends and family are telling us what their favourite tracks are… some people say Want No War, some I Love King Selassie, a lot of different opinions. We have people who like Revolution as well, the combination with me and Dre Island. They find it unique! We have a lot of opinions from all over the world, people asking where they can get a vinyl or a CD and stuff. We always refer them to our website where you can get all the information, we give thanks for everyone who shares that.
The EP was announced first with eight tracks, and now became an album with eleven. What made you change plan?
Well, while working on the album we realized that there were a lot of new ideas and new collaborations coming along the way, so… the listing process has changed a bit, the release date, the timing and also the tracks included. We did some re-adjustments and stuff. But everything happens in its time!
How did you decide on the features?
First of all we have a close connection musically, that's what made me speak to Keida and Dre Island and Cali P. It was kind of a spiritual connection, we just linked up and it worked out so well. Now each artist brings a different vibe, a different message, a different perspective on music and a different input. Dre Island, he has a unique style, a unique flow, likewise Keida as well. And Cali P, the Fyah Man, definitely has his lyrics coming strong... a different vibe again! So, each and everyone put their art and craft together to start this movement and make this album possible. I'm family-oriented, even in my music, you know!
That would have been my next question, because we can clearly hear some Black Uhuru references. Was that intentional or is it just something in you?
It is just natural! Blood line, you know (laughs). I was surrounded by it, I guess. A lot of songs just touch on my past... you know, growing up in Waterhouse and around King Jammys and so. And then my mum brings her catalogue of music and my dad brings his catalogue and I just absorbed it all. These are the songs that I heard when I was a kid, so... it wasn't really my intention to put that in, it came just natural, you know.
It was a pleasure also to know that King Jammy, who originally produced I Love King Selassie, wanted to do a remix on my album, too. That was a big step for me as well, so I give thanks.
Apart from the featured artists, it is also clear that this album is a close family collaboration, with your brother Adoney Reid responsible for the production. Is this important for you, to stay in close contact with your family members?
Yes, as I said, I'm very family-oriented and I like to keep it unified, you know. We come together and work together and show people love and unity, so that gets manifested too and people get inspired as well. It's just an influence we have, to enlighten and stay positive and show support in whatever we are doing.
Is it a coincidence that all of you are coming up with new albums this year? I mean, your Dad just released the album The Living Legend, now you, and your brother Juju has announced a release for next month...
Well, it is just a natural vibration, a mystic that... it is a movement each and everyone of us is playing their part. It wasn't planned or scheduled, so while we were in the studio working, each and everyone was just getting their material ready in this time. It wasn't really planned that way.
You've spent a few years of your childhood in Ghana. Do you still have connections to that time and place?
Yes, there are some connections. My cousins are still there, and friends from my school. I have one or two friends I keep the connection to, Mohammed and Kofi. I didn't spend too much time there to really keep a firm standing, I was too young, you know. But, yeah, it's time to reach Africa again, we are planning to go there soon for some promotion and program and stuff, to execute some positive projects, you know. Africa is always on my mind!
On your social media account you don't only post about your music and Africa, but also about worldwide matters. For example, I saw a post where you told the people about the dire situation of Aboriginal people in Australia and their struggles, so you really seem to be well informed about what's going on in the world. In yur opinion, what role do the social media have?
The social media is something where we get information good and bad, you know what I mean. When I realize and I know my history, I try to know universal history as well, what took place before I was born and so on... For example, in Australia the Aboriginees they got almost wiped out by the Europeans, driven from their motherland and so forth. They just lost a whole generation of people, and some are still living in their original way, and they are still confronted by the same political pirates, there are so many racists in Australia keeping them down. They have to stay isolated from Sydney and other cities, it's Europeans versus Aboriginees. So, if you realize, it's not Africa alone that's been terrorized by alien forces. In China and Japan as well, or South America, the Portuguese who took over the ancient Indians also. There's a lot of genocide on earth still and we have to make sure people are aware of it. We have to try our best... Our generation right now is in a position to use the social media in a very influental way because of their social networks. We can get to learn from that instead of from a book only, so we have to spread the message. From 1997, I used to travel so much and read books and I watched history channel and discovery channel and all that on TV, not just cartoons, you know. So, I just try my best to spread the message to future generations and enlighten them.
If you don't really find out the truth for yourself, you are not going to feel it within you. It's one thing to hear it, but another if you find it out for yourself, cause then you really feel it, you know.
Speaking about your personal future, what are goals that you want to reach?
Well, putting out more music and shaping the craft and meeting new people and share the message, transporting the movement all over. You will be seeing Yung J.R out on the road! (laughs) You will see merchandise, a clothing line, too. A lot of things! We are trying to collect some different ideas right now, so it will not be music alone that you'll see. A lot of events, a lot of things where we can put forward the message and let creativity rise. It's a movement ... it's about raising the consciousness every day and reaching a different vibe, meeting somebody different every day to make them aware of the movement. Living positive, you know, living a healthy life and enjoy life.
Are you connected to other movements like the EDB-clan, Nanook, I-Nation and them?
Yes, we have a project coming out with I-Nation soon, it's like a poem that we put into a song, so we are going to put that out. Respect to Exile Di Brave and the Nanook Family too. We have a lot of art work in Jamaica, very different creative ideas. So, we try to add to the vibration to impact the art industry from Europe, the art industry from Africa, from Australia, so each day is just a different way of going about the arts. We are putting that together, and yes, we are having connections to each and every one. It's a movement! And the movement is unlimited. The essence of the movement is just love, art, life, upfulness!
We are looking forward to that! People in Europe are looking forward to you as well, so will we see you next year on the festivals and stuff, is there a tour planned?
Yes, we are having an agent in Europe right now, representing the movement, who is setting up a tour, getting bookings and promotional deals, so yeah. We are looking to Europe to come over, to Poland, Germany, Switzerland, London and so on. We are getting a good vibration from Europe, I'm excited to meet the Europeans!
You know, Start The Movement is out and available, so please support the movement and visit the website at YUNGJR.com or find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter as well and stay updated. A lot of things going on right now, a lot of people are excited and glad, so we give thanks to all who support us from Europe, Jamaica, South America, Canada, Africa, all over... Give thanks from the One Blood Family and the Raggamuffins, you know. It's a joy and pleasure to present this project to you. I would like to thank everybody that put work in and put efforts in. Andrew Bassie, Adoney Reid, King Jammys, Kejo, Agent Stanley, Randy Far-I Winston... a lot of people made this project manifest, so give thanks. And shout-out to the whole Reggaeville family as well.
Thank you! What are you up to later today?
We just came from an interview and we have a next one after this, so we are just moving around and being active (laughs). And also, as today is the Ethiopian New Year, we'll be at a New Year Celebration at Veggie Meals Pon Wheels at Crossroads, also called Meskel Square. They will show a documentary about Haile Selassie, so I will definitely be taking that in, cause it's the celbration of a new year, you know.
Melkam Addis Amet!