Badda Badda UNRESTRICTED
One man who needs no introduction is Badda Badda aka Daddy Ray or simply Badda Twice! Born Raynold Tayengwa in Harare, Zimbabwe on 11 Jan 1976, Badda Badda is known as a charismatic, innovative and straight forward MC who’s very quick to speak his mind without fear or favour. The 42 year old father of one is not only an MC but also a musician in his own right and has recorded with a number of artists in different genres. So we set out to find out what makes him tick and ticked off. Meeting him in Melville at an Indian restaurant not far from the State Broadcaster’s building and University of Johannesburg provided an ironic backdrop that describes Badda Badda’s character “busy, colourful and newsworthy”. Once we settled down we got down to business. In this Interview he shares his life story, he addresses “the letter” which he had sent to African Storm Sound System about 20 years ago and was later leaked on Facebook. He also touches on a range of issues regarding Reggae in General.
SSS: Tell us about yourself, who’s BaddaBadda?
Badda: BaddaBadda is Raymond Tayengwa, I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe. I only moved to Johannesburg in 1999, my upbringing was nice, fantastic, I grew up as a reggae star, super kid as a young reggae kid. Everywhere I would go everyone would pass me the mic.
SSS: How old were you when you started toasting on the stage?
Badda: I got on the ‘big stage’ in my 1st year in high school I was doing Form 1, I was attending at College of Music where we had musical workshops every Saturday. Within that collective we ended up forming our own band, it was called The Young Artists of Zimbabwe I used to provide the reggae flavour to the band, in 1992 I was introduced to the Sound System culture, which was Stereo One Sound System. So I left the band scene for a while and went to the Sound System. During that time I also composed one of the most popular dancehall songs of our era that was in 1994. I was part of the song by Fortune Mpharutsa called ‘WanguNdega’ but we had a last minute conflict in the studio which made me not to voice the song, but I was credited in the album. I also did another song in that Album which is called ‘Wheels of Fortune’ from there I went hard on the sound system with Stereo One International from 1993 to 1996. In ‘96 I joined Bad Boy Entertainment we did one or two singles, one of those was also the first dancehall songs to be played on radio cause at that time it was not easy to get dancehall play listed on radio stations especially local dancehall songs, you had to go through all the procedures, so we had taken a beat which was used by Mad Cobra and Tony Braxton and voiced over it. I was with Bad Boy for about a year. Then in 1997 I joined Crucial Mix Band lead by Ras Jabulani ‘Trevor Hall’, we played mostly on Sundays at a place called Harare Gardens, when I was 21 years old. When I was 23 I moved to South Africa, I joined the dancehall circuit and started hanging out with everyone including Jah Crucial, Jahseed and Admiral and the rest of the crew.
SSS: Before we get to that, what ignited your love for reggae music? How did it start?
Badda: My Brother was a main influence he used to toast before me, He used to bring cassettes. He collected dancehall cassettes and my mother was, at one stage, a promoter at her work place for fundraising shows, so she would book bands and some of them would play reggae and I’d be exposed to bands like Pied Pipers, also 1 in 10 houses had a reggae album called Zimbabwe Dread with songs like EarthMan Connection, so you know, in every ghetto there’s that one house where there’s no parental order, so we would all go and gather there take the speakers out and play reggae music. The first song that really inspired us to start writing our own songs was Michigan and Smiley Culture “It’s me, mi come again” that was around mid-80’s and I was still in Primary School. Me and my cousin Willis Wataffi – who is also an artist but now he no longer does reggae music but more of Afro Pop – we would take stories about his adventures in the countryside and compose songs about them which were mainly sang in Shona. That’s how we started writing lyrics.
SSS: How big was the local reggae scene at that time?
Badda: We had radio stations playing reggae music, every radio station had a reggae show, the main one was Dennis Wilson’s show he was a Jamaican born in the UK and worked in the Telecommunications sector, he had a show every Wednesday and Saturday. Not all of us had a radio so on the day of his shows would gather where there was one. He liked to big up our hood Mavuku, “Big up Tindo Tuck shop in Mavuku” but we didn’t know who Tindo Tuck shop was, but we would always listen because our hood was being mentioned on radio.
SSS: So you coming to South Africa, what prompted that decision?
Badda: hmm it was Kwaito, Kwaito with Dancehall influence.
SSS: But how, what was the connection between you and Kwaito?
Badda: It was my Sister, when we were growing up my Sister and my Brother knew I could perform. My Sister would always see me in a dance at Rumours night Club which was also called Agony center and she used to say “you know you can come to the South (South Africa) because the music is blowing up this side and I know you are good at it” and there wasn’t that much exposure in Zimbabwe, we hadn’t reached that level of Zimdancehall then.
Zimdancehall started when Zimbabwe could not afford to pay royalties so they had to resort to local music and they needed content and besides that reggae was growing big. It took me a while to come and she’d been saying that since 1996 but I was skeptical. Then one day is just decided that I had nothing to lose since we were doing a lot of live shows but we couldn’t record, yes I was recording here and there with non-reggae artists. I packed my bags and came here.
SSS: So you got here and what happened?
Badda: ye so I came here, in fact let me address the letter story once and for all (laughs). Before I came here I did my research from Ras Jabulani ‘Trevor hall’, he came here often and travelled extensively in the Southern Africa, I also went to Tich Mataz, he had just been deported and was back in Zim, I had previously done one or two projects with him. So when I told him I’m moving to the South, he was not really happy, he was not impressed. I got a few links from Tich and a few from Ras Jabulani. When I got here my Sister told me that if I wanted to meet “my people” I have to go to Rockey Street in Yeoville. One day, I can’t remember if it was a Monday or Tuesday, I went to Ras Chedza’s shop (Rasta Shop) they had an instrumental playing and there were some guys freestyling over it, there was HympathicThabs and a few other aspiring artists at that time, I also got a chance to freestyle, there was a guy called Brian he used to work there. When he heard me he was like “no ways, how long are you here for?” I told him I was only here for two weeks I just wanted to see how the vibes were this side. He told me to come back on Thursday to go to Tandoor to be his MC cause he was the opening DJ at that time. I was smuggled into Tandoor as it was very difficult then to get in hey it was a big deal, so we went in through the other restaurant ‘One Drop’. We got in, connected the mic and started talking, while I was busy the owner of the club came in running, stopped me and asked “who are you” “why are you talking on the mic, this is not allowed, it’s only Appleseed (Jahseed) who’s allowed to do that”
SSS: Did you know who Appleseed was then?
Badda: No I hadn’t met him yet, even Admiral, but I had met other aspiring artists like Brown Shuga, the Late Herby Dangerous, Merciless, he was also an MC but I knew him from Zim. Brian was very clever he told the owner that I was from Jamaica and I didn’t know that’s how it was. The owner, Simon, got excited and those days I was still drinking alcohol, he brought me two beers and a spliff, this was around past 8, so I was on the mic from 8 till 11, the place was packed and happening. Then I see this two guys coming in and I recognized Jahseed as I had seen him on TV with Bongo Muffin and I just guessed that the guy he was with was Admiral. Admiral came to me and told me he liked my voice and chatted a bit, he gave me his contacts and said I must come to Voice of Soweto, the other guy said if I wanted his contacts I can get them at Rasta Shop. I met up with Admiral and we went to VOS, I did my thing and he was impressed. When we were done, Admiral told me that I must come to dance later on because they wanted to hear me on a freestyle, I went and got a good reception. After the dance I spoke to admiral and he told me we will meet on Saturday. He told me that if I really wanted to make it big here I must join a Kwaito Band and I told him I’ll see when I came back. After two weeks I left. I came back after 9months then I decided to settle. I would go to the dance an MC here and there but mostly for J Kulcha (one of the baddest DJ at that time) the mic wasn’t always connected I had to wait for it, sometimes I would get it sometimes I wouldn’t (politics) up until Jahseed got deported.
I got some work with Admiral but I was also busy with other dances like Jah Crucial, and I would go to most of the dances in the community centers. We also had another small setting which we called FIO Vibes where we would play every Saturday in Tandoor but it wasn’t well received. I got to work with Admiral and we travelled all over. When Appleseed came back I officially became part of African Storm setting until 2009 when I and Appleseed had a clash at the car wash (chill spot) in Yeoville. After that I got fired from African Storm because I beat the owner of the Sound System. It was a lyrical clash but I don’t know how it got personal because I thought it was lyrics for lyrics. LION PAW Int’l was the instigator, he is the one who said I should ‘kill’ him. So Lion Paw should be held responsible for that, he sent me to kill the boss and I was fired.
After that I started working with Mad Koolia in Tandoor, I think I did two years then I started Mad Sunday because in Tandoor it was Fyah Sunday, in fact I didn’t start it, I joined it but I started to call it Mad Sunday, we held them at Rockefellers also in Yeoville, which also ran for a good two years until politics of the business got in the way, they said I’m a hard person to work with but I’m one straight forward person I don’t like to sugar coat things and a lot of people can’t handle the truth. I was also busy hosting other shows like Beenie Man show, that was my first big show, after Beanie Man show all this shows started coming like Capleton show, Anthony B, The Marley Documentary, that was when we were still in Tandoor cause when the Marley Kids came they wanted to know the hottest dancehall spot and at that time we were the hottest spot, they came to us out of all the spots in Johannesburg, I don’t care who says what but they came to US, to Fyah Sundays, we were one of the highlights of that Documentary we were not just extras.
SSS: The Letter?
Badda: oh ya the letter, so when I went back to Zimbabwe, I sent a letter, I had identified a gap, there was no way that you could go to a dance and there’s just one guy talking and no opening MC and cause of the system I used I then wrote the guys a letter. “I’m now back in Zimbabwe, the reception in Jozi was nice…”, although I spent most of the time with Admiral I just wrote to the collective as I didn’t want to separate the whole thing. I gave that letter to Trevor hall Baba Farai, as I said I was practicing with his band at his house, Crucial Mix Band, so when he was coming to South Africa I asked him to deliver the letter to Admiral, but I think he gave it to the wrong person cause that’s why it stayed underground for 20 years until it got published.
SSS: Who published it?
Badda: It was the owner, Jahseed published it via somebody of course because he was using a fake account. I had reached that level where people had to come to Facebook with fake accounts trying to disrespect me. When I look back at it, I’m so proud because I had a vision and ambition so obviously I had to work hard to realise my dream. So it didn’t work out between us cause of insecurity maybe I don’t know for what good reason. From where I come from one has to show gratitude to people. So that’s how the letter came about and I never got a reply for that. I ended up coming back and worked my way up, it was not an easy road. I got into many fights because every dance I went to I would ask for the microphone whether it was Jah Crucial or whoever. For me it was like when you go to a dance there needed to be someone on the microphone, big songs were created in the dance instantly and that’s just part of the culture.
SSS: Would you say being an MC came accidentally? It was not your plan?
Badda: In Joburg yes but when you come from a sound system culture you have to be an MC, you don’t just go on stage and be an artist. I was already an MC on the sound system with Stereo One, when we used to do shows with the bands I would also play the role of an MC, it was 7 of us in the band it was my duty to introduce them, Major E, BookahT, Junior Banton, Ijah Son whose known as Jah Bless nowadays, Slaggy Yut, Marcus and Sweet Sid (yoh), including Trevor hall cause when he performed I’d play the drums. I learnt to play at the College of Music when I was only 14, by 15 I could play a set of drums. So I was multi-talented, I would MC next thing I am sitting behind the drums and people would be like “whoohuu” lol but the microphone came calling, I ended up being booked in non-Reggae shows to be an MC, I’ve done Kwekwe Music Fest, Chinoi Music Festival. I gravitated more towards being an MC than being a musician but if you look at my passport its written musician LOL.
So out of all the people who do reggae here in Joburg only Lion Paw and Buju Brighton are from my area in Zim, we only got closer in Johannesburg, cause that time we had our sound and they had theirs on the other side of town but our sound was the biggest, when we had a show this small sounds would come to us and we would give them an hour cause back in the days there were no international stars, we respected everyone who bought records, anyone who had a collection we respected. Lion Paw he was still TOP CAT that time, he knows the culture and no disrespect to anyone but Jahseed didn’t do sound system then, we only heard about him through the grapevine “oh there’s somebody who’s in S.A who used to stay in Bulawayo”. As far as I’m concerned sound system was only big in Harare, Bulawayo yes but not that much, he was getting records from Peter Ndlovu, how many times would Peter Ndlovu come and bring you records for you to have enough to play 3hrs? Or for the whole night, we are not talking about records to play at a session but for the whole night, records that could fill a trunk that was one part of the job because you would not be part of a sound system if you didn’t carry records. I started by carrying records, I got my chance when someone went to the countryside, cause they we not coming back to Harare anytime soon. We were about eleven in one crew. You wouldn’t just walk in and say today it’s me on the mic, no. This guy went to help his mother with agriculture work in the country side, that’s what we used to do in Zim, we have the city and the countryside, so during harvest time if you had nothing to do in the city you were sent to the country side. So Lion Paw was part of Bronx International and Buju Brighton he is somewhere in the Vaal now, those are my people from my era, the rest I taught them reggae here in Johannesburg.
SSS: lol should I put that on record
Badda: ya I don’t want to boss it but most of them. Take it like this, ever since I’ve been off this Sunday dances, none of them have gone viral, which Sunday dance do you know now, that people would go to even if they have work on a Monday, who still drives from Midrand to Yeoville for a Sunday session that gets packed and is exciting. We turned a normal Sunday to a crazy Sunday where people wouldn’t sleep, there is no more. They said I was causing friction so I ask then where are those Sundays, where is the madness, where is the excitement.
SSS: Speaking of excitement, what would you say is the current state of our Reggae right now, is it exciting?
Badda: hmm that is plagued by Selector fear. Selector fear is the biggest disease. I didn’t say these things, this was said by Rory from StoneLove when he came here and he made an observation, and he was like ok this selectors are suffering from a disease called “selector fear” and it’s not them alone this disease is worldwide. There are few people who understands the culture, it’s going to be hard because I can tell you. Those days of Tandoor Jahseed and Admiral went on a strike, Koolia and I didn’t know, so I said to Koolia go and take records from Junior Dread from the studio because people were getting restless. That was the first time we played ‘nuttin nuh go so’, and you know what happened! We pulled it 7 times. So if a person is on the mic and cannot communicate with the audience, right now I don’t see anyone who communicates with the audience, everyone is just adlibing, “haaawhuuriggghtwhuuuhhhaa” see what I’m saying, there’s no communication, you are a massive communicator that’s the meaning for an MC. You are supposed to communicate. We are at a space where people who play records think that they are bigger than the one on the mic talking, so we are not going to go anywhere. We will not go anywhere, I can give you examples you can ask Themba the Teacher, when I was playing with him in Tandoor, we introduced that song on the ‘Major and Minor Riddim’ for the first time in Tandoor, without fear or favour, we said “stop people, this is what’s happening. Two weeks ago I was on the internet I got this songs now I can’t play them in my house any longer, I also want to share with you” “It’s nice to nice to know you let’s do it again” they are still playing it today they can’t even let go of it. The same thing with that song “Its times like this we miss our heroes” I’m the first person to play those Riddims in South Africa in 2010.
SSS: So by selector fear you mean they are afraid of playing new music?
Badda: yes because they are scared of how the crowd might respond, so if you play a song for the first time and people don’t like it, you quickly remove it because you are being controlled by the crowd, you do not control the crowd. People are in a space now where the person on the mic controls the crowd you’ll have to convince the people that “whooi this is what’s happening this is a brand new tune, big up the music” but everyone just says “riggght brand new Sasco” what is Sasco saying? You don’t elaborate, you are not saying anything, and you are the link between the people and the music as an MC. You don’t check how people are doing in the dance you just assume that they are Irie, even if a song is not nice you can force it on people even seven time. An example: Stonelove in Jamaica they record every week, so if they were playing the same music every week how was it going to be like, the music won’t grow. I did a few recordings in Tandoor but because of management those things never worked out, we did two or three recordings. Right now these DJs want to boss it but ask them how many mixtapes do they have, before people can know who you are you must make a mixtape, that mixtape must be on rotation, even before you can be put on a poster, nowadays as long as I have a laptop and I’m a rich kid next day I’m on a poster. It doesn’t make sense. You have to work for that thing you have to make mixtapes underground. Like King Roots, I knew him from a cassette before I got to know him personally, because his brother was selling his mixtapes in Harare and that’s where we got to know of him. Even the Jamaican dancehall songs I heard some on cassettes before I could see experience the music live. A Sound System called Saxon from the UK they came to Zimbabwe in ‘93, they were the world champions that year. That’s when I experienced everything that I used to hear on cassettes live. From that experience that’s when I realised what’s happening and I mastered me, that’s where I got my PHD.
SSS: So all they need to do is move away from that selector fear?
Badda: its easy look, I don’t know if they have to pay me money but they are going to get a lot from this knowledge, I don’t want to lie. There is no song, a reggae song that doesn’t have an RnB version, so why are you not playing it in Sandton, when they call you in Sandton you get under pressure and you play Sister Bettina. That’s caused by lack of understanding, I can tell you one thing the last time I went with Admiral in Swaziland, after 2hrs his set was done he said Badda Badda what do we do and I’m like but my Man you got RnB, play those RnB reggae versions, you can ask him, he played until 4am he even gave me extra money. He played Michael Jackson’s “you rock my world” reggae version. Even Teacher when we were in Tandoor, I used to pressure him because us being in a reggae world we are supposed to have all this reggae collection. We collected all the RnB reggae versions. You can call me in Sandton and I play RnB Reggae mixes, I play for the whole night plus they pay good money R4000 per set.It’s not about Sean Paul, Reggae is bigger than Sean Paul. Ask them from when Mavado started, Kartel, who was saying this is the next big artist” I forced them to play Vybz Kartel until they started calling me VybzKaBadda, that’s when he was still dark, most started playing him now when he started bleaching, from romping shop they started getting mad about Kartel, I’ve been mad about him from 2001 but because of selector fear it’s going to be hard. So if you don’t have selector fear it’s an MC and selector combination, the MC must tell the people, this song is nice for this reasons, can you like it, then you play it again, if people didn’t come to your dance and they get a cassette they would know this songs but now how are we going to do it, we won’t, cause the music is not travelling. They must just play for their colleagues at work. Selector fear is beating up the business. People are playing for “pull up pull up” now we are saying “money pull up” it’s a new thing so how are you going to get money pull up if you are playing the same music week in week out. Who must pay you for money pull up if you are not playing new music? I’m the first person to introduce money pull up so DJs can have money on stage, I was the 1st person to introduce dancers on stage, before that everyone was just jumping up and down. Koolia made that song “just kick it” because he heard me saying that in the street I was like no problem because that’s how reggae is made. Elephant Man used to do the same thing, he composed song from the slang that he heard on the streets. Elephants man dances, when I saw him dancing I said this is what’s missing in our dances. There was this guy Sunny from Alex, I know him from Tandoor days, but after his Manchester experience, cause in Manchester there’s a lot of Jamaican immigrants, so their dancing skills were on the same level as Jamaicans.
When he came up I was like he needed to be put on stage. So we started putting them on stage, with all those girls, Paida, Dancing Storm started coming out. Ras Chedza’s daughter was staying in Miami that time, some of the dances I would hear Elephant man sing about them, but they were no videos about them, so when she came around I was like oh I hear elephant man is singing about wave, how do you do it. So she started showing me and Koolia those dances and everyone started getting interested. There was a video cassette of dances with Bounty killer, my favourite DJ at that time, I saw him dancing and I thought if he can do it then I can do it too. We started doing that dance even Mafikizolo had it on their video, they call it head corner, Mafikizolo came to the dance and saw us doing it and they took it and put it in their video. That’s how much dance had an influence, imagine If Mafikizolo could come and copy what was happening in the dance and put it on their video.
SSS: And the Reggae Artists, what do you think about their progress?
Badda: I like the growth, you can go into any part of Soweto and get a 30 minutes segment and everyone is singing along, so we are growing despite the fact that we don’t have airplay also you can see that every selector is fighting to play the local artists songs. If the sound system culture can also grow then I’ll be happy. I big up everyone that promotes local reggae. There is potential for more growth and all that. What we need to fight for right now is airplay, it’s not going to make sense that we have a SAMA award winner who can walk in this mall here and nobody knows who he is. Where were his songs played. We also need to be on a level whereby a reggae song can go on to the song of the year category, but how do we reach that level if no one is listening to our songs on the radio. We need mainstream but underground there’s growth.
SSS: Who’s your favourite Artist right now?
Badda: Jeremiah FyahIses is my favourite right now, I don’t want to lie, who else, Dillinger hmm that one is my homie, Bongo Riot standard. But because Jeremiah I’ve seen his growth, since that time you brought him to Yeoville, he was singing “Rasta Never go Low” I would give him advice to try something on the song and he never showed any rudeness, I’m sure he went wherever he went and did his homework, If there’s any artist who did his homework its Jeremiah FyahIses.
SSS: The disconnect between Zim Reggae Artists and South African Reggae Artists in South Africa, do we have to make anything out of it, or should we just allow people to be?
Badda: That’s caused by terminologies, I’m from Zimbabwe when last did Zimbabweans book me, when last!, I get booked in Bloemfontein and those people are non-Zimbabweans they’ve got nothing to do with Zimbabwe, Soweto everywhere I go, so! This thing just started nowadays because of US, when I first came here it was just about Reggae not about where you are from, I’ll be with Rastas in Tandoor only to find out later that the guy is from Angola, only years later. We just saw them as someone who loves Reggae period, there was no Reggae Angola, I don’t know Reggae Angola, I don’t know Reggae Mozambique but everyone I know right now I met them through Reggae and I came from a space where there was no ZimDancehall, but I was able to fit myself into the space.
I have been able to link up with every reggae personality in South Africa others will only find out later that I’m from Zimbabwe. It was never about that before otherwise I wouldn’t have met Jah Crucial, and I wouldn’t have gone to Soweto. We only knew that when you go to Rastas this is how you behaved, this is how you dress up, we would know that we are going to a Rasta dance and they do things differently. Even that dance in town it’s got everyone. So I’m telling you most people that I have met I’ve met through Reggae. If your music has potential it will reach anyone regardless of where they come from. Hence I’m saying if you check my history I’ve been booked by South Africans more than Zimbabweans. People must stop bracketing themselves. The last ‘live’ I posted on Facebook my cousin (Willis) was watching and now he wants to do a song with Jeremiah FyahIses, so if Jeremiah does a song with him, all the Zimbabweans will know who he is and whose advantage is it. Bracketing yourself can limit you.
SSS: What’s your take on Summermania Reggae Festival being cancelled? And the state of our Festivals as a whole?
Badda: Summermania was a big move, big everything you know,but the fact that the headline artists have been here before and didn’t get an overwhelming response in the past and also their supporting acts, no disrespect to anyone but they hardly have a following locally, maybe if they had put e.g. Letta Mbuli people of that statue, it could have worked and also pulled in a different crowd. So all of that combined what it spells! And we are also talking about expenses, from experience our crowd is not the type to buy tickets in advance. The cheapest ticket they had was +- R350. There has never been a show to reach that amount here in terms of entrance fee except the Junior Gong show, which was ok cause Junior Gong is not like those artists we are talking about here, if that Summermania had any of the Marley Kids the price would have been justified cause they would have also attracted non-reggae crowd. So it was just mission impossible. I’m wondering how much does The Dome charge, and then you book those artists! Then you book those local bands! It wasn’t going to work. Our local Reggae shows are planned in two months so they won’t work. You can’t plan a festival in two months then expect it to reach top class. A Festival needs a year to be properly planned. As soon as it’s done you plan for the next one. But all our festivals you just have to wait two months the most then along the way whoever wants to do a festival they just do it there and then. We will always have all this problems that we are having.
SSS: Level of professionalism?
Badda: It depends who it is, speaking from experience and having been booked at non reggae festivals, we are still far. It goes back to this two to three months planning. Preplanning is important. We need expertise. I’m not sure if anyone has a Promoter license here, or they went to school to study this thing or it’s just out of passion. There’s marketing involved, we do a festival and we don’t even have except MzansiReggae, a local paper that writes our stories. We should have newspapers writing about an upcoming reggae show but we hardly have those. E.g. if Luther Vandross has an upcoming event next year, you will know of it today and tickets will sell out even before year the ends. So Summermania already saw that their ticket sales were not doing well. And they were not left with that much time.
SSS: I’m also thinking we don’t have that much support in terms of sponsorship.
Badda: Look at the hip hop guys, how did they start! Look at Back to the City, we should stop with the excuses. Once sponsors see you doing something they’ll come on board, look at our Reggae Shows on TV, who takes that thing serious. By now we should be having Brands like that Beer Company getting involved because they use patois in their advertising, already there’s that connection of Jamaica. If we say reggae, we are going to speak patois we are not going to go around that. The other one is that Juice Brand they are not getting involved but they are at an island sayin’ “Jahman” if those people are not seeing us and not getting involved who must come in, who’s going to come to us. It’s going to be a huge problem if we are not going to go mainstream, our artists needs to go mainstream, they need to be on TV. That will have an impact on the genre, our DJ’s don’t make Riddims that we can promote on TV, and we have DJ Cleo, he is a DJ but you see him on TV that’s how you become a brand. How can we even talk about promoters when we don’t even have brands that they can’t promote, a promoter needs a brand to promote at the end of the day they are not doing it because you are their friend or something, and they must get something in return? How are they going to sponsor you to wear clothes if you are not a brand? We need to go mainstream if not then we will be stuck here.
Also we have Sound Systems, I’m not talking about DJs but Sound Systems like Kebra Ethiopia, EekaMouze, King Roots and all of the others. They are a mobile sound system and they can just pack their speakers and go to Vaal, anywhere that’s how Reggae music grows and that’s how it has been done from long way back. Another thing is we don’t have pirate radio stations here, where you’ll just go “bang, haaa” and when the cops come you run away lol but we are not on that level. Those are the things that made reggae grow, sound systems and pirate radio stations. How does it make sense that Burna Boy will come all the way to make a collaboration with AKA when we have Rastas here? There’s something wrong with us. Like I said, kwaito and Reggae, all those groups in the 90’s had someone toasting, Aba Shanti, Bongo Muffin, +Skeem that’s why I came here cause I thought Kwaito and Ragga go together otherwise I would not have come here.
SSS: Reggae and patois there’s always that debate that we should be singing in our Languages.
Badda: That’s also tricky cause even the Jamaicans who sing in Patois, deep patois are only known by us Reggae heads, as for the likes of Sean Paul who sing in a little bit of English are mainstream, same thing as Bob Marley’s music it has a bit of that thing but you can hear it. So it’s tricky depending on what subject you are talking about. If we going to sing in Patois and things that are happening here it’s not going to connect. You might sing in Patois and tell us about your vile story ya it might connect. Lucky Dube was singing in whatever way he was singing but talking about what’s happening in the country and he connected with the world. For me it would be about the topic, what are you addressing. You can’t sing a rich song when you are broke, it doesn’t make sense. You can sing about it but it won’t connect with your fans because it’s not you. If you sing in a local language people will hear you but if you sing in Patois about what’s happening in your space you might not get heard.
Even Jamaicans they encourage each other to sing in English, like last time I checked one of the artist I can’t remember if it was Sean Paul or who but they were saying you can sing patois on your verses and sing English on the chorus so that you connect with the masses. So it’s all about how you present your music. Are you targeting local or international markets? You can’t be telling the local masses that repatriation is a must when you are already here, talking about you want to go to Zion, hey which other Zion you want to go to when you are already in Africa. That’s my opinion. I grew up toasting in Shona and we were connecting it’s only when I came here that I changed to English cause I wanted to be heard by everyone. That’s why Zimdancehall is big in Zimbabwe because their fans can relate and that’s why they struggle to get a following this side cause of language barriers.
SSS: but I still listen and I love it
Badda: yes you do but imagine if you could understand what they were saying, it would be more exciting, what if they are swearing at you now and you are busy dancing. That’s how Buju Banton got in trouble with that Batty man song, that song was huge and it was even played in gay parties, someone from Jamaica just came and said are you mad do you know what that song means!, they were just interested in the beat and busy saying the song is nice. It is a complex issue.
SSS: So what’s next for BaddaBadda?
Badda: I want to make more music and appear on TV. I’m in the process of recording. I know I’ve recorded before with a lot of artists, Mapaputsi, DJ Cleo, Mandoza, Spikiri etc. I have been neglecting my artistic side. People now think I am only an MC. People in Reggae have to know one thing, one has to be multi- talented. I can give an example about Charly Black, he started as a selector on Bass Odyssey but now he is a big artist. In Reggae you have to go through the proper channels, you have to be an all-rounder. So I’m going to put more energy in my music. I’ve done one song so far, I bought a Riddim from Juicer, he’s the one who did that Riddim for Red Rat on ‘Rise up Zimbabwe’ if you are buying Riddims it means you are serious.
SSS: Are you packaging an album?
Badda: I’ll see where my strength takes me. I have a lot of unrecorded material so when time goes it will decide whether it take a form of an album or not. But the works must go on.
SSS: Who are you working with?
Badda: I have a Breda but I don’t know if he wants me to broadcast him (you can tell me off record lol) but I’m going to work with a lot of artists. But First I’m going to try it alone because I don’t like the idea of someone carrying me. I’m going to do Badda Badda first and if people feel me and they want to tag along they can tag along. Some artists are just there to be carried by other people but I need to carry myself. I’m one person whose hard to satisfy and I still fight myself self and say “It’s not nice enough” this time I’m just going to record and let go cause sometimes we want to hold on to creativity. The more you let go the more you focus on new things.
SSS: When can we expect it to drop?
Badda: Bang! Anytime, anytime the single can drop anytime. We are going to do a song and a video because we need to be on the mainstream. We can do a song only and watch it amongst ourselves it’s not going to work.
SSS: What drives you?
Badda: People who feel that I can’t do it, my haters motivates me to go harder. It’s also passion I have to stay up-to-date even if I’m not active I’m always practicing, I’m always listening to some sound system, watching what’s happening in Jamaica. And I want people to know that what they see is what they get, I’m not a pretender, that’s what always gets me in trouble I need to reserve myself. And it’s not my intention to make other people feel bad but if you see Badda Badda coming at you to correct you it only means I love and care about that person. If I don’t care about something I don’t pay attention to it. If I say “Hey let’s do this and that” don’t say it’s none of my business cause Reggae is my business. As long as it’s Reggae business it’s OUR business. People mustn’t take it personally it’s all business.
SSS: Message to the Reggae fans?
Badda: I just want to say to them, let’s keep on keeping on. Let’s fight selector fear. Selectors are the ones that controls the crowd and not the other way around so let’s fix it. If you are invited to a jazz show, we have reggae jazz, play that, carry the reggae banner don’t feel pressured by the situation. There’s always a Reggae way out of every Reggae musical situation.
That’s what I think.