Issue 108

Monthly newspaper and online publication targeting 18 to 35 year olds. The ultimate guide to the hottest parties, going out and having fun. Music, fashion, film, travel, festivals, technology, comedy, and parties! London, Barcelona, Miami and Ibiza.

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Guestlist had the pleasure to meet up with reggae artist UK Principal to talk about his 40-year career in music, Rastafari- anism, his take on the UK's reggae scene and potentially creating a DJ album in 2018. 2018 / ISSUE 108 REGGAE 53 Tell us a little bit about your back- ground. I was born in 1961 in Dulwich, my mum was a literacy and numer- acy teacher but before that, she worked in hospitality before she graduated from uni. My dad was a builder. Myself... my mum said that from the age of two, I was always singing as a kid. So she figured out that I would become a singer, long before I knew it. But as an aca- demic, I am a school teacher and I train people. Your artist name UK Principal, what does it stand for? The name Principal came about because of the jobs that I do. So Principal, like a school princi- pal? Yes, the UK part is actually not rep- resentative of United Kingdom but it stands for 'Unkept Knowledge' because I am quite a lyricist when it comes to lyrics and stuff like that. Where are you from originally? I was born here in England but my parents are both Jamaican. So your roots have definitely in- spired what you are doing, right? Let's clarify first, I have a love for music, yes reggae is my first language because this is what I identify with growing up as a youngster and I feel the messages of reggae music but I was trained properly as a vocalist and went to school to learn jazz and got a proper vocal training. That is why you can notice that my vocals are very clear. And my mum always used to say as she used to sing 'the one thing you have to mind is that people need to understand what you are saying.' So if people don't understand me, then I am not doing my job proper- ly. And I had a tune last year called 'Mystry Babylon', it is the tune that is taking me across Europe this year, it's one of the fastest selling roots culture tune by a UK artist in 10 years. We sold a thousand cop- ies in less than a week and we are still selling more. The guys that put the song together are Petah Sun- day and Mighi D who actually own the record and they actually had Barry Isaac who did a tune before me called Rastafari Army. I like challenges in terms of music. I do reggae with hip-hop which is what I am actually known for, from my younger years. I am a singer first. Most of my records that I have released are all vocals anyway. I have not done a DJ album yet but that is coming. Describe your music path? It has been an interesting journey. If I tell you how long I have been in the music industry, you won't even believe it... it has been over 40 years. As you've been on this journey for a while, in your opinion what message does reggae convey to the world? Peace, love, unity, education and learning to be practical and Ras- tafari. My introduction to Rastafari was with Cosmo in my younger years and 12 Tribe of Israel which is up the road in Streatham. A lot of my friends who were Rastafarian, had a different concept, a differ- ent discipline which if practised properly was greater. For me this discipline was really to unlight the mind, it talks about educating one's mind and knowing thy self. Yes, the movement of going back to Africa is one thing, but you have to understand the whole concept and the religion itself. It is not a re- ligion, it is actually a way of life and that way of life has strict discipline. At the same time, being an artist I have to see what I can offer, how I can educate in my Rastafarian ways as not everybody is into roots and culture. So my message is very simplified. If you want to listen to the music don't only listen to the beats but to the words. The words are the most valuable. I recorded a song called 'Don't Criticise Me', produced by Mark Darlington, it is Ghanaian reggae tune. Ghanaian reggae seems quite high at the moment. I wrote the tune based on what happened with the riot in Croydon. It was to send a message to politicians saying, not every young person is a criminal, young people are frustrated because they don't offer them anything. All they tend to do is to criticise them so I wrote a tune about this. Which also highlight my beliefs and values for youth within reggae music. How do you see the future of reg- gae in the world? I am gonna say this out, you can quote me on it. Reggae, today is not in a good position because we are no longer in control of it the way we should be. A lot of the shows are run by counterparts. A lot of the time where you see shows organised by our people are in Jamaica, Africa but in a Euro- pean atmosphere, we are no longer headlining as such. They are one or two people but not much. A lot of my shows, a lot of the promoters are Caucasians. So you think it is not as authentic anymore? We are losing the authenticity because a lot of our youngsters are not taking up on reggae as they used to. And a lot of our older peo- ple are not passing on the knowl- edge. Even if you are a person that used to rave to the music pass on the knowledge. We need that. Three words you live by. Try to do good. Actually four words. " IF YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO THE MUSIC DON'T ONLY LISTEN TO THE BEATS BUT TO THE WORDS. THE WORDS ARE THE MOST VALUABLE. '' Gassy Traore | Guestlist INTERVIEW: UK PRINCIPAL

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