Jah Crucial: The Reggae Ambassador Turns 60
By SoulSista Sekano
Jah Crucial is one man who doesn’t need any introduction when it comes to reggae music; he is the most crucial element of the South African Reggae Scene. When I got a chance to interview him I wondered how I’m going to fit his colourful life into 5000+ words. Colourful? You ask! See Jah Crucial can boast that he has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Mutabaruka, Don Carlos and Burning Spear just to drop a few names, if that’s not colourful then I don’t know what is. Nonetheless I made my way to Vosloorus, a township which is located 31k east of Johannesburg. When I got there I was welcomed by Ras Jah Crucial clad in a green, yellow and gold vest, with a matching woven hat and shorts. I was introduced to the family and got an impromptu (much needed) lecture (yet to be put in practice) about farming. Jah Crucial is passionate about farming as he attributes it to his healthy being.
Ras Jah Crucial (as it is also stated on his ID book), I ask him why that is: “I removed my Babylon name, I’m officially Ras Jah Crucial, I changed it in 1994. I had three surnames so I decided to just be Ras Jah Crucial, I was also inspired by the bible people like Abraham and Isaac when they ‘found’ God they changed their names, so I’m like I belong to God now I’m Jah’s somebody.”
SoulSista: And you never encountered any problems with officials?
Jah Crucial: I was too radical, too radical, I wanted them to do it, and I never asked them or begged them. They asked me where I took the surname from. Whose last name was I taking, I told them I’m not taking anyone’s surname I’m creating a new one as Rasta.
As I was busy setting up for the interview he proceeded to tell me about one of his colourful stories
When Andrew Tosh and Don Carlos came here in South Africa, I interviewed Freddy McGregor, such a nice interview that, I sent it overseas to some magazine…hmm it was a long time ago in 1996 and they never published it, I can’t remem…oh it was Reggae Report a reggae magazine.
They never published it? And you don’t have copies of it?
They never did, I don’t know what happened, ehh I think I have a copy somewhere but back then we were using tape, you see the small ones
Ye and it was some serious stuff in there.
Ras Jah Crucial was born in Stirtonville, a township in the east of Johannesburg on the 8th of March 1959, has been married to Mama Lolo (who makes the most delicious dumplings and the most beautiful beadwork.) for 38 years and have been blessed with three children two boys and one girl, 3 grandkids two from the first-born and one from the last born.
After disappearing for a while, he emerges with a tray of biscuits, coffee and a fennel, mint infused tea for himself. After making fun of my black coffee (strong, no sugar no cream) drinking habit he tells me about his childhood.
The Early Years
JC: When I was born there were some complications, you know “into za Bantu”, family didn’t like my mom being pregnant with me, so they wanted to kill me, so when I was born there were some complications, I couldn’t be breastfed, so my mom was told to throw me away, so I was taken to Middleburg to one of our family members place. That’s where life began for me, some interesting story, I just recalled now that I was born to be a Rasta. I grew up in a church yard; someone from the family was a priest, I can’t remember who it was. They say I never attended even a single service, can you imagine that! They say every time they talked about me going to church I’d cry and my grandfather would tell them “no leave him, he’s still young, maybe when he grows up he’ll love church and will attend it”. When my mom used to visit I’ll be very happy but when it was time for her to leave I’d want to go back with her, I’ll cry and make a scene then they’ll say she’s going to church and I’ll leave her in peace lol. So she used that trick all the time. In 1964 my third year in Middleburg, I got better. Mom fetched me and brought me to Stirtonville. Then we moved to Vosloorus. I started school at Zimele lower primary school, I did my standard 2 at Fortune higher primary, and I did well there, I started my schooling at the age of 5 in 1965, I turned 6 in march so I started school at the age of six.
SS: Why so early?
Because I was too brilliant, they’ve never seen a child like me, they don’t make kids like me, I was too brilliant. When I was still at Fortune my mom got married to another guy from Soweto. Then my mom moved there. Soweto was also being started to be built. So they stayed in George Goch, you see by Ben rose? “No I don’t know Ben rose” just by the hostel by the stadium where Moroka Swallows (Football Team from Soweto) used to play; there were no shacks there, so when they demolished George Goch it became Naledi Ext. When Protea (a neighborhood in Soweto) started I was there, we used go hunt rabbits, crossing the railway to go hunt rabbits and birds, and it was a big open field.
There were farms close to Potchefstroom road, so we would walk a long distance to get there, the farm was owned by Boers and they would chase us with guns, and shoot at us, we were radical from way back then, we were not afraid, if we see a gunman with those long guns we would defend ourselves, we were too mobile to be shot. I left Zimele school, I went to Hlabahlangene, now it’s called Fortune, and I did my Standard 2, that’s when my Mom got married in Soweto. They got a house in Naledi and I did my Standard 3 at Naledi they did Sesotho and Setswana so I had to go to Emdeni, eLuyolo it was the 1st Higher Primary for Isizulu speaking pupils. I did Standard 3-5 then I passed. From there I went to Dr. Vilakazi, it was a new secondary school in Zola. I did Standard 6-8 in 1973-74. Then for high school, guess where I went! To Morris Isaacson where the 1976 events started by the likes of Tsietsi Mashinini and others, I used to catch a train from Naledi to Ntlanzane, when I didn’t have money I’d walk. I did athletics at school so walking long distances was not a problem. When I got to Morris Isaacson my marks were not good, I was doing Maths and Science so they said I must do History and Geography, yeer I’ve never been so bored in my whole life, what made me cross is that I had to learn about Jan van Riebeeck, all those guys, I was militant even then I didn’t like this white guys business you see. I had the most horrible year. So that’s why I say luckily for me June 16 happened, I was not going to pass those subjects, imagine doing a subject you hate. Even the names are German nothing African about that. I was traumatised my sister. I saluted and said good shot, schools closed. I could see my school life was over, doing geography and history! I loved Mathematics with all my heart. That was the ending of my school days. *laughing*
In 1977 I was not doing anything, so I took a course for switchboard operator, but I liked going in to town every day and I’d watch movies, I even knew the schedule I liked watching Chinese movies. When I do things I perfect them, I watched those movies, I studied everything, I knew every actor from the best to the worst, I knew every Chinese and Japanese in those movies, actors like Tompo, before Bruce Lee’s time. So I finished that course and started looking for work, but I left Naledi Ext. to stay in Meadowlands, I stayed there for six months then I got arrested for train surfing, remember I was doing nothing, some became gangsters I chose train surfing. We were the Champions of that, you see trains are complicated now, back then they weren’t so it was easy to surf. What brought me to Meadowlands is that I had a fall out with my step father, I was playing soccer so my mother asked me to cook, I didn’t cook because I found the game more exciting, it was a derby so I couldn’t just leave the game, I got home late and I was supposed to cook and clean. I was supposed to put polish but that day I smeared the whole tin of polish on the floor, I was angry cause I had to leave the game and I was like why should I leave the game to clean, I messed up the kitchen floor. When my Mom got back from work she stepped on the floor and fell. When my father got back from work she told him, he took me to the bedroom and locked the door and beat me with a sjambok. I was stubborn, I didn’t cry and he wanted me to cry but I never wanted to give him that satisfaction, that made him more angry he put down the sjambok and hit me with fists, luckily I was a good boxer due to watching the Chinese movies so he couldn’t hit me in the face I used my hands to block him, my hands got swollen. He got tired and opened for me, when he opened the door my mom thought I was dead so she was surprised to see my face had nothing but I had hid my arms so that she couldn’t see them. My arms and back were badly bruised and I couldn’t play soccer for the whole week I couldn’t do anything. I saw that this guy was going to kill me I told my mom then I went back to stay in Vosloorus with my grandmother and uncle.
Reggae Music and Rastafari
So back to Reggae music, I went to town to a shop called Jantjies it was a big reggae record bar in Small Street. Guess who was working there! Bobotikal’s Father, (Bobotical is a popular DJ in Gauteng) so when I got there, they had LP’s pasted on the wall, that’s where I got there idea from for Jah Crucial Record Bar. Then I was not familiar with Bob Marley and Bobo’s father liked noise and he had the volume on max and that’s where I fell in love with Bob Marley. I bought that LP. So I’d frequent the shop often. I’d listen to The Scientist, he had big dreadlocks, Johnny Clark, Mighty Diamonds, King Tubby, I used to love Militant songs not this Love songs “I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU” I used to skip them, I wanted the struggle songs like Hugh Mundell “Africa must be free in 1993”, that time LP’s were R10-11(Rand), I would tell the owner that’s the kind of music I want and he would bring it, that’s why even today my selection is so ruff, nobody can test my selection. During apartheid times they blocked the music from coming through to South Africa, it proved difficult to source it. When I started importing music, I’d find that some of my boxes would be opened, I lost too much music. I’d order 25 LP’s and only find 14 inside I must make a plan and go sue the former government but I never gave up I went stronger and stronger.
I then found work at some battery factory called Chloride in Benoni, it’s now called FNB batteries. They put me in a department where people didn’t work for long, it was hot there, that’s where they cooked those things you find in batteries. But I persevered. Every Friday when I knocked off around 2pm, I’d take a train to Johannesburg, there was a record bar called Street Import, that’s where we used to buy our LP’s, every Friday without fail when I got paid I’d go there and buy an LP. I was getting paid R40 every Friday. Imported LP’s were R20 each, Sony was taking half of my salary I was just collecting“Do you still have them?” Yeah my sister I can’t loose them that’s my identity, and they are still new, my father used to work at a jazz bar so he showed me how to handle LP’s. Street Import was next to Wits University, so when others went into the University I went on to Street record to learn reggae music. I would get there around 3pm and they closed at 7pm, they would lock me inside with other workers and we would leave around 9pm, I would take the last train home. It was my life, I considered myself to be earning R20. Sometimes I’d take 3 on credit and pay later. So I had build a two room and got married to the mother of my kids. In my room there was a board written, ” no alcohol no cigarette smoking, those who did that I’d chase them outside. So every time I bought a an LP, she would complain that I’m wasting money, so I’d hide the LP’s from her and she knew my music so when she heard a new song she’d complain and I’d say I borrowed it lol.
SS: How did you become a Rastafarian?
So here in South Africa I have never seen a Rastafarian before me, I have never seen a guy wearing red green and gold with Rastafarian badges or dreadlocks, from growing up I never liked to comb my hair I liked to keep it long and uncombed, when it got too long and unruly at home they would fight me and cut it, from 1980 I let the hair grow and I never touched it ever since. During those days when you found work they would tell you to cut your hair but I had told myself that I am never cutting my hair it’s either they take me or they don’t so when I saw the Rasta man’s LP, on the cover there were men with dreadlocks and I was like so one can keep their hair like that! Then I got interested, if I had known long ago that you can keep your hair like that then I would have done my hair into dreadlocks long ago but remember I was not yet Rasta. That time Rastafarians were unheard of, no one was calling me Rasta. When I went to Newcastle to finish my schooling, they tried to fight me but I managed to finish my school with dreadlocks.
In 1982, during the December school holidays I came to Vosloorus, I was passing through Zulu section in Dube and there was a Ganja party. When I went past there I heard them playing reggae music, there were some brothers just chilling outside wearing hats with red gold and green playing Bunny Wailer so when I passed they call out to me and said “Ahoy Jahman” so I got confused it was the first time I hear someone saying that, I only knew ‘ship ahoy’ the lyrics from the OJAY’S, this ahoy ahoy Jahman was very confusing, so I greeted back and said ahoy, they called me to come sit with them and they showed me their music selection, from then on everywhere I would go people would be calling me Rasta. That’s how I started with the movement. I started attending Rasta gatherings in Soweto and I would ask what a Rasta is, and they would say Haile Selassie I. I would ask and then what about Jesus Christ? There would be a debate some would say Jesus Christ and some would say no Rastafari Haile Selassie, ‘I burn church burn Jesus.’ So, remember that I also didn’t like Church from when I was still growing up, so yeah burn Jesus! burn church!. So it means this people grow up like me they didn’t like Church like me so things started to change I would hear some Rastas say: ‘yes Jesus is coming, the second coming of Jesus.’ We would start debating about it, even now you can see that on Facebook we have those debates also the Jamaicans would say: ‘oh you love Jesus, so when you come here to Jamaica you must leave that Jesus of yours at the border gate, we don’t want Jesus Christ here we’ve had enough.’ Our parents were or are Christians, we don’t want to hear anything about Jesus Christ. If you want to talk about him you can go to them, some would say but Haile Selassie I said we must follow Jesus and I say he says you must follow Christ to be a Christian not follow Christ to be a Rastafarian; some take Haile Selassie’s pictures and take the Bible and talk about Jesus Christ, I asked them to show me a clip where Haile Selassie I says Rastafarians must talk about Jesus Christ or must follow Jesus Christ. One day my sister, you must ask that internet or Google where Haile Selassie I talked about Jesus Christ you will find nothing on that.
SS: Why Jesus Christ?
You must remember that most of them come back from a Christianity background so they love Christianity even though they are Rastas and love reggae, that Jesus illusion is still with them, it hasn’t left so that’s why most of them have turned into Bobos and they say Holly Emmanuel I, Emmanuel is the father, the Holy Spirit, Holy Emmanuel I. They want to push the agenda that he’s the black Christ they just want to hear that name Christ and then there’s the music, they started swearing at everyone that’s their only Flop, and they ended up seeing that people are misleading us, Black Christ doesn’t exist. You can see even now Sizzla and Capelton never say anything about Holly Emmanuel I all of them even Anthony B, why? Because they saw the light.
SS: Which part of Rastafari do you belong to?
I’m not Bobo because I don’t Hail Emmanuel I, am Rastafarian ok I can say I belong to Nyabinghi, I don’t have any qualms with them even the 12 tribes the ones who wear the red green and gold turbans or hats, who guard the prophet. I don’t have qualms with them so I’m half Nyabinghi and half 12 tribes. I’m full Rasta.
Sound System Culture
SS: How did you start Jah Crucial Sound System?
When there were Rub a Dubs, there were no selectors back then people would just play music from LPs. I remember, I don’t know how old you were, but we had a big dance in the Vaal a Rub a Dub “Which year was it?“ In 1983, “I was a toddler” so your parents never told you about this big rub-a-dub that happened there? “No they never told me” then you must ask them, that was the biggest dance in Sebokeng I remember there were three powerful guys, those guys ended up going into Exile they were very powerful. Only one came back I don’t know what happened to the other two they were real Rastas, they saw that they couldn’t take this thing (apartheid) so they moved. We had our own doubts, we didn’t trust this ANC (The ruling party), what scared us most is that I remember there were guys who went to Botswana, they only stayed for a few days then on the third day were bombed, then I ask myself how did they get bombed cause they left here privately so it means the person who took them there rat them out. Why didn’t they make a mistake and kill wrong people! they went straight to them so I realised that we are being sold out, but I didn’t tell anyone about my thoughts I didn’t speak about it to anyone so that’s why I stuck with Rastafari. I could see that even Bunny Wailer was fighting with his music ‘Down with Apartheid’, Peter Tosh ‘Inna mi Land’, so I said fine I’ll just fight musically.
There was one Jahman who was called Lee Perry, he brought a speaker we used to call it heartbeat, first guy to buy a speaker with volume knobs so every Sunday we would go play next to the church I tell you the church service would end quickly, They would go report us at the police station. And police would tell them that there is nothing they can do, we also have rights. We were not playing ‘Night nurse’ we would play churchical radical songs like Ras Michael ‘The Sounds of Bingi’, ‘Jah Rastafari’, heavy chants. So when Linda bought his speaker we started buying small sound systems like techniques and Marantz. I had this one speaker, my sister, the noise that came out of that small speaker! I used to live three streets away from the police station so at night around 10 p.m. I would play reggae music so most guys who were in jail there converted into Rasta because of the reggae music I was playing at that time so, when they came out they would pass here and say yes I’m Rasta now and already they would have their turbans on. So my HiFi would break often because they couldn’t handle the sound, so I ended up buying the heartbeat. So Linda would bring his and we would make a big rub a dub. Then myself, Gladdy Wailer, Mighty Koos and Ras Fanusi came together to form a sound system. So how do we do that, every month we would all contribute R1000 each. Gladdy Wailer used to sell ganja and I was still working in Benoni, no I had already left Benoni, I was selling Records at Jeppe Street. Jah Crucial records was already operating. Mighty Koos was working at Lever Brothers, so after 6 months we had something like R24000, we took the money and went to Hybrid, it was in City Deep opposite city deep market, now there is a bus terminus there; and they gave us two 18 inch speakers, 2 three way speakers and two amplifiers and a mixer. So we had the first sound system here in South Africa, ok Admiral was also around they had a system called Mandela Sound System but when they were playing they would hire out sound they didn’t have their own sound system.
We didn’t have a name we were just playing. Then Mutabaruka came to South Africa, he had a radio show called Cutting Edge in Jamaica. We liked that name, He came to see our sound system and we told him we wanted to make him honorary president of cutting edge sound system, he agreed. We started playing at different places, problem started when we wanted to go play outside of Gauteng. Fanusi and Mighty Koos were working, Gladdy Wailer couldn’t leave his place because he was selling Ganja, so the only person who was able to travel was myself. It was a problem, I only managed to travel once with the sound system, I went to Mpumalanga when I came back the complaint was that, I was traveling alone with the sound. They told me that if I wanted to travel I can but I can’t travel alone with the sound, the politics started, from then on I had no choice. I had money, I had a record bar, so I went back to Hybrid to buy my own sound, that’s when Jah Crucial Sounds System started. It was called Jah Crucial a.k.a. Crucial Edge sound system that time. That’s why there’s a Dub plate from Macka B where he says “crucial edge” even on Mikey Dread’s one he calls it Crucial Edge. So when Macka B came this side it was still Cutting Edge, he saw the sound system and he liked it, he even played on the system, even Mutabaruka played on it, in fact all the artist when they came to S.A they would play on my system.
SS: Even Burning Spear? You became friends when he came here?
No it was before he came here. You know what, when there was going to be that “Home to my roots” concert, Burning Spear was not going to come if I didn’t endorse it, he called and asked about a guy called Justine from Ballito who wanted to book him for a concert. So I knew Justine cause I used to buy CDs from him at revolver music. So I told him that he’s a good guy and thereby won’t be problems, so he came to perform here. But it started, besides me playing his music. *Few seconds to think* There was a magazine called Reggae Report, it used to feature Burning Spear. They would also publish phone numbers so I just called and told him I like his music, so that’s how it started, every time he would release an album he would tell me and I would promote it just to get people ready. “When appointment with his majesty” came out, I was still playing at Voice of Soweto Radio station then.
My Last child was born when Burning Spear came here in 2001, Mama was pregnant with her, see that photo there with Sonia, she was pregnant so in May 2002 little Sonia was born, so that’s Sonia and she’s little Sonia. We are big friends with burning spear, so years ago when you called him the call will go to voicemail if it was not important he wouldn’t answer the call then one day he told me that when I call and he there message I must just say “yoh burning spear it’s me Jah crucial pick up the phone man’ then from then on he would never put me on the voicemail.
So, back to the sound system story, you see, that’s the main reason I started Jah Crucial sound system, it was that I would be able to travel where they didn’t want me to, I travelled outside of the province. So I went to KZN, Limpopo, Bloemfontein and travelled as far as next to Maputo to a place called Emangusu.
I was unemployable, so I started selling sweets at schools then upgraded and started selling ice lollies and vegetables at street corners. Around the year 2000 I set up shop in Jeppe Street and I found some guys who had a Rasta stall and I liked it and they sold recorded cassettes not originals. I had so much music and I was like I can also sell that. I started with a box of 5 cassettes, it was like I was joking. I took out the table and set up under a tree, then people started buying, I then went to stores to buy cassettes then started selling two boxes and the business grew. I started importing music from overseas, now we were using Cd’s. There was a guy who had a stall, but he was inconsistent until he was gone for good, on the days that he didn’t pitch I would use his stall; after two weeks of no show I went to the municipal offices and told them that I’m taking over his stall and that’s how Jah Crucial records started. I started selling Cd’s and LP’s. I organised a generator and played music, now the stall grew and I didn’t have space for my records some guy from the opposite building offered me space in the building, I moved up there but still left someone to stay under the tree.
SS: What happened at the shop, who used to come thru there?
Good, the 1st artist to come was Mutabaruka. Someone told him there was a guy there who plays your music, I was still selling under the tree, even when Don Carlos came I was still under that tree. Now the place began to be a hanging spot because you’d never know which celebrity you going to find. First time Mutabaruka came I was playing his music and people were like “hey Jahman that’s the guy from Jamaica” and I would say yeah that’s him his here to see me.
SS: Why did you close shop?
The people we rented from were staying there illegally and they would pocket our money, and they were not paying services, so the building was closed down because it owed the municipality so we were evicted. The day we were evicted was a Wednesday, on Monday those people said it was rumours there’s nothing like that, they tricked me because they started painting and renovating the building, then I relaxed. On Wednesday early morning the Red Ants (Vicious Eviction Private Company) came thru and forced us to leave, and I told them I can’t cause I haven’t moved my stuff, one police man came and said they must leave me alone to make a plan to get my stuff out. I took my car and went to Vosloorus to get a trailer, when I came back all my stuff was on the street, scattered everywhere and people helped themselves out, they cleaned me out. Luckily I had some stuff that was left in the house so I called the guys at Ernie’s B Reggae Distribution and told them what happened , those Americans were good to me they sent me some stock to sell. Now it was back to square one, I went back to the streets, that was after Burning Spear came here, he came in 2000, so that must have been in 2004-5. I got another shop at Unity building that was my last shop in 2011, this time I was on the first floor. In 2008 they did renovations to the street in preparation for the world cup, so the place was no longer safe for my customers and the support dwindled, and piracy was also rife. I now had to pay for the rent from my own pocket, I did that thrice and I saw that it was not working. I took all my stock and left, some people still come here at home to buy old school music.
SS: So let’s talk about the state of reggae music here in South Africa because you’ve been there from the start?
Let’s start with our artists; they are trying, they are coming ok. I can count Bongo Riot, this youth called Jeremiah Fyah Ises, there’s a guy called Ras Pedos from Polokwane, not counting the Veterans like Carlos Djedje, Harley Mukwevho Colbert, Thuthukani Cele and Sista Phumi Maduna. Yeah they are still good. They are still maintaining the standard because some, even when they play you won’t say it’s a SA artist. Band wise and artist wise we are ok. Now coming to the sound systems, since my sound is broken and I’m slow physically, there are good sounds like Kebra Ethiopia, guys from Daveyton they call themselves Mother Earth sound system. There’s also Montana Hifi, he was part of Kebra Ethiopia with Doc Inity. Then you have guys from Zimbabwe like Lion Paw, he has the most dubplates here in S.A, like from Queen Ifrica, but his working so he can afford them and he has an internet radio station. If you have a radio show it’s easy to get Dub plates from these artists, because they would send you music and you’d promote it. So any artist that you play their music you don’t even have to pay them, they’d give you for free. Like myself most of the Dub plates I didn’t buy them because I pushed the guy’s music. Like Mikey Dread he made 2 dub plates for me, exclusive. So a dubplate like that is expensive and before way back then the plates were never expensive they were reasonable. Until every Tom dick and Harry became a selector “Hey I’m a selector and I want a Dub plate” then Jamaican artists were like “these ones are playing” so they made Dubplates expensive. Now they charge close to a 100$ imagine that times 14! And remember a dubplate is not even a full song, the longest would be around 2min. If you ask who are you: “I’m a DJ here’s my sound system, ok he has his speakers, or someone would just go to a sound shop and stand in front of the speakers and take a photo, when you check their page there are no flyers, no gig guides but his busy requesting dubplates. So that’s why they went up. As for me, I don’t want Dubplates from any artists, I insist on hearing your music first. Like Momo Dread has a song about ganja ‘A mehlo abovu’ I’m still waiting to get that Dubplate, I don’t want to do a dubplate with you using Bob Marley’s song then call my name on his song, what is that! I want your song and I’ll tell you which song I want. I’ll listen to it and would tell you which parts I identity with, like Mikey Dread says “it’s the people sound it’s a heavyweight sound” he’s like that and I’m like that so I identify with it. There’s a guy called Jefferson Paris from Aruba, he made a Dubplate for me after hearing about me, there’s a song he used to play called ‘De Pon a Mission’, he called me and told me that he wants to do a Dubplate: ‘Jah crucial DE Pon a mission, Jah Crucial where he come from ‘ Vosloorus’ , it’s heavy cause what he says is what I stand for and it’s on a dubplate. Now that cost too much animosity, so imagine me coming to play on your sound and I play ‘De Pon a mission’ and you are busy playing Vybz Kartel or Alkaline. I come in and play conscious music and I educate the nation then you see that I’m too heavy, next time you tell me that I can’t play because the line-up is full. That’s why you find that these days when I go to dances I just become a spectator and they play music that I play and say ” ye big up Jah Crucial’ *laughs*
These days when an artist comes this side they hide them in the hotel rooms. Lutan fyah was here but they brag about him on Facebook, they take pictures with him and brag, you will just be surprised to see him and ask yourself where he was. Even when there is a dance they don’t bring him, even if he doesn’t go there to perform but just for those who love him to take pictures with him. That’s what we used to do when an artist came this side, you were able to go talk to them and tell them “hey I’m so and so and I like your music, if you had their album you were able to get an autograph or get contacts just to link up. But nowadays these guys don’t want to do that, once you start getting close to the artists they will start asking: “Crucial what are you talking about with that guy, he was brought here by me” Capleton was here I didn’t have a one on one with him, they would say “sorry Jahman we are busy, we have to get back to the hotel”.
SS: How does that make you feel when they exclude you on the line up?
At first I used to feel bad but I made peace with it, I understand it’s his sound and his trying to defend it, because me in my knowledge a sound system is… What made Jah crucial to be big even right now, I used to introduce a new selector on every gig, if a guy comes to me and say: ‘Jahman I am a selector’ I would invite them to my home so that I can hear and see what they can do. Are they playing relevant and uplifting music? Do they have new songs? If I find him relevant I’d invite him to my next show and they’d blow up.
SS: Who are those that you’ve introduced through your sound system?
Lion Paw, Kebra Ethiopia, Bobotikal, Lasbon, Sanzalicious from Kagiso, there list is long, some guys from Zim, Lepa General, he’s in Benoni now, and even this youth called Selector Jah Yut. He is very good, very powerful. I would find him selling products at gigs instead of playing and I’d ask “what’s going on now” one day I got mad, I went to Kebra Ethiopia gig in Kwathema and I found him there with his laptop, he wanted to play and he tells me he was not on the line up, I went and spoke to Doc Inity to let him play, he went on and he played a massive set, and these guys have a tendency to put people in during odd hours, either early or late then prime time they play and they leave this yut with potential out. He’s also good with a microphone and he has his Dubplates, that’s why they don’t like him, he has relevant dubplates. There’s also Law G Kal Dan Dada in Soshanguve.
SS: Do you want to talk about your illness?
Yeah those were serious times. I think it was in 2011, same year that my shop closed, it closed in March then around November I got sick, I lost appetite. I couldn’t even handle the smell of food; I had to stay in my room. I deteriorated I stayed at Bara for 4 days. The only reason I stayed there was because they ran tests and they couldn’t find anything wrong, I asked them why do they want to keep me there if they can’t find what’s wrong. There were a lot of Doctors from Russia and Cuba, so I said I rather die at home than there, I went home. I was in trouble but there was a slight hope that I won’t die. I got critical in March 2012. My will not to die was more, I didn’t see myself dead, I think most times people give up easily then they die, others will even give out instructions to the family members then they die, then people will say “he saw the end”. I wasn’t like that, even when I lost half my weight I could see that I was dying but I was like but I can’t die I’m not ready. Question was how I will save myself. Guess what happened, do you know why I respect gardening? I didn’t have anything to eat and I had planted some sweet potato in December and was supposed to harvest in May, so I was walking outside for fresh air and I remembered those sweet potatoes and I just checked on them and I found a huge one there, and it was so delicious. So I lived on sweet potatoes and I got better till today. That’s why I’m always fighting on Facebook telling people that they won’t find salvation in the Bible but in their gardens.
SS: What are your future plans?
Jah Crucial sound system will be back, it will be heavier it will be harder. I also want to do Jah Crucial Annual Earth Strong Celebration like the Rebel Salute one. I want it to run from Friday to Sunday, getting a sound system won’t be a problem there are a lots of sound systems that I can speak to, like Eeka Mouse. I just need to book a stadium like Vosloorus. I just need to go to the office to check logistics. That’s my ultimate goal.
SS: What do you want to be remembered for?
I must be remembered for the good music I play, I don’t compromise.
Any last words, anything you want to say to the masses?
I want people to not forget about me, please masses if you are hosting a good big reggae festival don’t forget me. I can still provide good music. I still have my original music, there’s still a lot of music that I haven’t played that I want people to hear. I remember we used to play good music on a small sound system now imagine good music on a big system, people will respect reggae again.
Real Name: Ras Jah Crucial
Date of Birth: 08 March 1959
Birth Place: Stirtonville , Johannesburg, SA
Genre: Reggae Roots Dub
Operating Since: 80’s
Spouse: Mama Lolo
Children: Dumisani, Mbuso and Sonia
Grand Children: 3
Contact: Facebook: Jah Crucial