Posted by: Selekta Massive
During the 41st Edition of the Grahamstown National Arts festival we were blessed with the presence of a musical matriarch, Ghetto Queen who came straight from Cape town to promote her new debut reggae music album, I believe. Selekta Massive from Zion Train Reggae radio show on Radio Grahamstown r102.1 caught up with her and the following is the rest of the conversation.
Selekta Massive: I told you I got a guest of honour. She is just across the line. Let us welcome her properly. The Empress, the mother, musical warrior, Greetings Empress
Ghetto Queen: Yeah man, Rastafari, King selassie I the first and forever more. Empress Menen I, mother earth I hail, Greetings Grahamstown.
Selekta Massive: Are you ready fe dem Empress?
GQ: Me ready
SM: Ready we are ready, lets go again, I see them that they are not ready, but they must get ready. Lets talk a little bit about you so de ma fe know yah. Who are we having today in studio. Long time we nah tell them.
GQ: This is Ghetto Queen from Cape Town, Marcus Garvey Camp, yeah man, inna Phillippi deh yah.
SM: Born and bred?
GQ: Born and bred in Joburg but me come from Eastern Cape, Qumbu, eMarhambeni
GQ: Original name Duduzile Njikelana but maiden name is Xhalisa
SM: Do you know the great Xhalisa brothers, Wakhile and Mkhuseli (from Azania Band)
GQ: I am married to Mkhuseli
SM: You are married to a musical Warrior. Lets talk about this empress, you sound like a female Blak Kalamawi. Am I the first to say so. Are you related to him?
GQ: You are the second one. It could be that these yutes grew up under me. Long time me are in dis business. Jahnett Tafari, Jah Kongo.
SM: Let us talk about your album, I believe, what was the inspiration behind it, the name, the works and everything behind the musical piece?
GQ: Yeah, I believe is quiet a powerful word. Through all the ups and downs in life, not only bad but also good tings. I found that, no in am in this land because I believe and for me to do this album, I had to believe. I am spreading word around that people must believe in themselves. Whatever you do, even if it is so small thing, believe in it, whatever it is positive, righteousness rule!
SM: When did you start recording this album and when was it released?
GQ: Last year(2014) in March and it was released last week(27 June 2015)
SM: So it is hot off the press? You are using unique riddims , where did you get them. They are natural and have a Mzansi reggae flavour?
GQ: I am working with Focus Empire from Zimbabwe, Bigga Cuzzi, he is the originator of the riddims and I write lyrics.
SM: I see quiet a lot of work recorded under the Focus Empire. That CD you gave me with the Gunmouth riddim, I first heard about it online while it was pushed by Jah Link. He is one type of artist who understand the Focus Empire sound as he works closely if not directly with them?
GQ: Focus Empire, waka Simba, you are large! Through the powers of the Most High he was sent to help I in I with music cause you know it is never an easy with music. Even Ghetto Queen had to believe that this thing is gonna happen. Even though he had to leave before the launch of the album because of the xenophobia thing (attacks). His mama came to fetch him.
SM: Is he still a pickney, how old is he?
GQ: No him a big man but to your mother you will always be a child no matter what.
GQ: But, Oh, Focus Empire waka Simba u know-you have done a great job that has motivated a lot of youths in Garvey, you know its where we try the best to teach the youths about righteousness and livity of rasta. So, Focus was there to help us musically as music is weapon, word sound and power. So Focus, Focus and focus and focus all the way.
SM: Focus Empire!
GQ: Focus Empire waka Simba!
SM: If you could introduce your music to anyone what could you say about your sound and musical content. What do you sing about, what inspires you?
GQ: The content of my music is diversity of languages. For instance, there I sing in Swahili even though I have never been to Tanzania or Kenya.
SM: Ndakupenda wena!
GQ: Asante sana! There is a diversity of languages and education-teaching kids about how to treat themselves, how to be….especially when they start to be rastas. You know especially when they start this long road.
SM: It’s a rocky road they need guidance.
GQ: They need tools, inspiration and guidance from mama. They need tools of life and sustaining anything that is good in life. I don’t mean Ghetto Queen has never been to ups and downs. We can talk about that for the whole day. All I mean is that I had to work night and day and to fast and pray. So this is all in the album. Like the song no 9 in the album, I am gonna be a rasta until
the day Jah comes for me, I am giving the power that they must never give up, this is a way of life. Rasta is head and Creator.
SM: Is it proper for me to say this is your first recorded album?
GQ: This is the first official album, but i had my first EP, We ago blaze. It also had a video played at Cape TV DSTV channel and Soweto TV. This is also works from Focus Empire.
SM: In this album you collaborated with a variety of interesting artists, I see the chune, Elohim, you collaborated with Daddy Spencer. The big man is also in town.
GQ: He was supposed to be here (giggles)
SM: I think he is still coming, he is a big man caught up in a big man business. He will come thru finally.
GQ: Elohim is a very powerful song I did with Daddy Spencer.
SM: What was the inspiration behind the chune?
GQ: In Cape Town and South Africa we face gangsterism and the youths rise under rasta and do rasta gangster like the Gaza and Gully ting. Me nah have no problem with that. We were trying to show that You can still repent from your ways and hail Him. We are trying to show that in Elohim, it means the youth can stop this corruption, drugs, crime and focus on education as the first thing. Like Ghetto Queen dropped out of school in Grade 12 but now am back at night school just to motivate my kids.
SM: And to finish the unfinished business?
GQ: Yeah man, there is no other way. Life is a combination of any good thing and education.
SM: As an artist which artists inspire and uplift you?
GQ: First of all, Azania [Band], me have to holla them and Ras Judah, he is my inspiration. Even in this album, he had to take over. Also Jah kongo, Jahnett, MPV under the stishi, Lady Saw, Morgan Heritage and Queen Omega. These are my inspirational artists.
SM: There is a new crop of artists like Kelissa, Jah9 and Kabaka, etc. They are young but very conscious and original. What can you say about them or their music.
GQ: These artists must be strong and tough and believe in themselves. There are times when you feel like you wanna run, don’t do that-believe! Help yourself and your own community and in that way you will sustain in this business.
SM: It is tough to be rasta, but to be a rasta woman is twice as much, can you reflect on your experience. Did you chose to be rasta or rasta chose you?
GQ: Rasta chose me, but I know, to be rasta you must keep your background. I know it is not gonna be easy. I had to ask Jah to assist me in this journey. Through friends who were rasta, I became rasta. My elder sister started to be rasta, and I followed. I later found out that I was not following her but following Jah. When I told my family I am leaving I said I am not leaving but going to exile. Sometimes when you become rasta you have to leave and go away and stay somewhere because you want to keep the relationship with family. As rasta you speak a different language, you don’t eat this you don’t do that. In all of this, the key word is RESPECT. No matter what people say when they pass remarks about ganja – don’t indulge:humble yourself.
SM: As a mother, artist and rasta woman, how do you balance all?
GQ: I have six children, but Azania the sixth passed away.
SM: Apologies sister.
GQ: My mother, Madlamini Njikelana, my husband, Motive Njikelana a brother of mine in music also, my children inspire me to go on. I also focus on my work and prayers. Work and Pray.
1. I believe
2. My Soul
3. Dem Crazy
4. Never Know
5. This is Love
6. Everybody Shoulda Know
7. Tribute to Champion
8. Gonna be Rasta
9. Elohim feat. Daddy Spencer
Facebook: Ghetto Queen