Capleton Interview.. as interviewed by TK Smith, who begins with a little bio here then gets into the interview:
My main objective in radio is to give relevant information to my listeners. As a youngster, I found myself more drawn to the disc jockeys, who would offer feature after feature - loaded with informative entertainment. It is this reason, why I have adopted the same styles as some of these disc jockeys.
Recently, a gay rights group called OutRage! has been creating havoc for some members of the dancehall community. OutRage! is organizing protests and pressuring major show promoters to drop dancehall acts whom they accuse of promoting violence against gays and lesbians. I have been following the progression of this story on my weekly shows at WRTN 93.5FM in New York.
For the benefit of my listeners, as well as to satisfy my own curiosity, I reached out to one of the accused; deejay Capleton. I wanted to find out how he felt about the conflict between the dancehall community and the gays and lesbians in the society. Here, I share the conversation we had during the New York Vibez / New York Top 30 radio program recently.
T.K.SMITH: Heís one of the hardest working and most loved deejays in the business; itís my pleasure to welcome to the New York Top 30, Capleton. How are you doing sir?
CAPLETON: Bless up; holy Emmanuel; Jah Rastafari. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the ways of sinners, nor siteth in the seat of scorns. So let Jah rise and all his enemies scatter. I and I shall trample them from now and forever moreÖmore fire!
T.K.SMITH: Before we take things to task. Let me just ask you this. Aileen Bailey, how proud are you of her Olympic achievements (Aileen is Capletonís sister)?
CAPLETON: They never know it would happen. When Aileen give Veronica the baton, the whole of Athens get shaken. She did the whole Jamaica proud.
T.K.SMITH: Last time I spoke to Cocoa Tea, who is on tour with you; I was told you were all in Utah. How many cities have you been in the last seven days, and whatís the vibes been like?
CAPLETON: Well, the vibes have been great. A couple of the shows have been canceled because of the mis-interpretation of the lyrics used in some of my songs. Away from that, the people love the vibes. Because you know itís all about the music. The people know what we are all about. People know that our music is not advocating violence against anyone. Itís all about uplifting and righteousness. Itís all about purification and salvation. And when we say ďburnĒ or ďburn out,Ē it doesnít mean to literally go out there and burn people; or kill people; or chop up people. We just are trying to get people to see those negative ways and change.
T.K.SMITH: Freedom of speech is being threatened seriously in dancehall music.
CAPLETON: The 1st. amendment in America is freedom of speech. What I do is artistic expression. In Jamaica, [metaphorically speaking], people will say things like; kill and not actually mean that they are going to physically hurt someone. Like for instance, Bounty Killer will say gun and shoot while he is on stage or during a recording. He is actually referring to his mouth as the gun and his lyrics as the bullet. Years ago Bob Marley did a song called ďI Shot the Sheriff.Ē He did not go out there and literally shoot a Sheriff, nor did the Sheriff association come down on him. He shot the Sheriff with words. I donít think it is right for someone who doesnít understand our culture or language to try and interpret it for their own convenience or agenda.
T.K.SMITH: Do you know if there is a plan for dancehall artists as a group to counter these accusations?
CAPLETON: Most definitely. The Music Federation in Jamaica has a plan. We realize that this is an agenda. And they are trying to use our music to further their thing. Itís all about politics and because of the level that our music has achieved. Itís not about any one artist. They are just using that as a smokescreen. Itís about attacking the music on a whole because it has gotten so strong and influential.
T.K.SMITH: The main perpetrator of this is a [gay activist] group called ďOutRage!,Ē from out of London. The protesting has now spilled over to the USA, however.
CAPLETON: They are very mischievous and donít have anything better to do. So they just surface and cause problems. George Bush is the President of America and he says he isnít into certain things. So I donít see why we as dancehall artists canít say we are not into certain things also. Every man has a right to decide his own destiny. But there is a judgment and there is no partiality in the judgment. People have a right to their own opinions. And people will criticize and have a right to do so.
T.K.SMITH: Some artists have bowed to the pressure and offered their various apologies.
CAPLETON: Music is an art and you should sing whatever you feel inside of you. You should sing about the things around you; everyday life; things that you observe. Therefore, itís not right for you to preach a certain message and then apologize for it. Whatever we say against immorality, or injustice, or inequality, exploitations; we have no apologies for.
Iíve been explaining myself for a number of years now. When I say ďfireĒ, itís not a literal fire. This fire comes through words; this fire comes through the way you live; this fire comes through sound and power. Itís all about liberation, self-esteem and self- awareness. All I can tell [the gay activists] is thanks for all the promotion they been giving me with all this controversy. People who never hear about Capleton before are now aware of me just because of all these newspapers writing about the gay rights situation.
T.K.SMITH: You have had a good year in 2004 so far, Top 30 wise. Some folks were wondering how come you did so little in 2003.
CAPLETON: Some times you have to give the younger artists them a chance. I pull back in 2003 so that others could have a slice of the cake. If I go on every big riddim out there, itís going to take away the hype from some of the other young artists on the riddim.
Remember, Capleton is the one who set it. Capleton responsible for everyman career. Elephant man, Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Baby Cham, even the great Ninja Man. They are all influenced by my style, pattern, and lyrics. Check and see how many of them doing well since Capleton buss. Ask any of them when you see them.
T.K.SMITH: Youíre definitely one of the more influential reggae artists out there, and longevity has been kind to you.
CAPLETON: Fi real. I am very tolerant and not all about the hype. Itís all about love. People put me where I am today. Some people might misjudge me because of the music being so aggressive. They might think I am not approachable but that is far from the truth. If you approach me you will feel the love and be pleasantly surprised.
And as for the youths out there: be conscious and positive, stay strong. Go to school and get your education. And they should stay away from crimes; stay away from drugs. Donít heed to the termites of life and the obstacles. Hold your faith, stay focused and know what your goals are. And never let anyone tell you that you cannot make it in life because there are blessings for everyone.
T.K.SMITH: I love that message Capleton. Thank you so much for spending this time with us.
CAPLETON: It was a pleasure. And give thanks for having me on your program also. Much love and respect.
Catch you next time with the New York Vibez. You can also check me out on 93.5 FM (New York) on Tuesdays at 6pm and Wednesday nights at 12am with the New York Top 30 Countdown.
By T.K. SMITH