‘I Had ONLY ONE YEAR Encounter with COCAINE’-BLACK ‘RICE, Nigeria’s Dreadlock Reggea Artist
… Says: ‘I First Smoke MARIJUANA at 10 years old, Tried HEROIN Day FELA KUTI was Released from JAIL’
* ‘PMAN Needs a Rebirth, Change of Name to Succeed’
* ‘I Pioneered Nationwide Reggae Tour in Nigeria’
* ‘How I met FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI and Majek Fashek’
* ‘Majek, Amos McRoy, Dennis Cecillia…JahWalkings Sticks and Myself formed JA’STIX/ROOTRON’
* ‘We led first Nigeria’s All-Dreadlocks Reggae Band in Nigeria’
‘I Am Not a SEX MANIAC, but SEX is GOOD’
* ‘President BUHARI is very Prudent with Nigeria’s Resources as a Good Leader’
*QUOTE: “HERB is a Natural thing while Cigarette is full of Chemical and gun powder substances. That is the reason a lot of people died in their sleep with Cigarette in hand. The Cigarette paper was dipped in a liquefied gun powder substance which must burn out whether you smoke it or not. But the weed is not so, it goes out when it discovers you are not active on it”
BLACK ‘RICE created Nigeria’s first all dreadlocks reggae group called JA’STIX (Jahwalkingsticks) with world famous Majek Fashek on Guitar & vocals and Bass Guitar Guru Amos McRoy now Pastor Gorge Orwels in 1983. They were the first Nigerian group to play two shows in a day at the prestigious National Theater in Nigeria to raise funds for Mandela’s Africa National Congress (ANC),they performed alongside Bee Gee (Boye Gbenro) at the AfricanShrine while late Fela Anikulapo Kuti was in jail and played regularly at Cabban Bamboo featuring Ras Kimono and others alongside the Mandators. He is also the first reggae artist to take reggae music on tour Nigeria prisons in 1986. In this EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with SAMSON SHOAGA/MANAGING EDITORS, this gifted musician revealed his unpublished encounter with Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Afrobeat Icon, Majek Fashek (the Rainmaker); contacts with Cocaine, Marijuana, Heroin right from the age of 10years, his belief in President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, appraisal of Nigeria’s Music Industry and other issues (unedited)
Q: How do you view the music industry in Nigeria? Dead or alive?
The music industry is very much alive and growing.
Q: How do you think Nigerian musicians and the masses are coping in the present inflationary economy?
The success Nigerian musicians have attained in the sector is the last survival straw in the economy. When the rest of the sectors are crying low wages saying ‘No Pay Packets,’ the little funds the masses had saved are given to entertainers s a way of hope for their battered situation. Entertainers are not feeling the situation in 9ja (Nigeria).
Q: What is the real problem with Performing Musicians Employers’ Association of Nigeria, PMAN? Will you attribute the problems to bad leadership or witches attack or corruption?
Purely the 9ja factor is feeding from PMAN faint resources but not feeding the source. All the past leaders left the office -I meant to say they were forced out of office very rich but the office that made them wallow in poverty. They are bad, selfish, egoistic and corrupt individual clinging to the position of power. PMAN needs a rebirth, kind of change of name and things like that.
Q: Amongst past presidents of PMAN till now, who is most corrupt among them and what are your reasons?
The most corrupt past PMAN president is hard to finger now because everyone of them (former PMAN presidents) want to exceed the previous administration. It is more like a keen competition. I must tell you that that is the reason I called it the 9ja factor, the same thing with our country’s leadership. I would therefore say all of them were corrupt absolutely.
Q: Why do you think most musicians take to smoking either weed as in Marijuana or Heroin to get inspiration?
A point of correction. Nigerian musicians don’t take to those drug habits because inspiration comes from the Most High Jah. Truth is, when we try stuffs as human beings, we are only trying to prove ourselves how resistible we are as mortals. One thing know is, all the stuffs you mentioned enhance our ability to behave anyhow, dance and prance anyhow before thousands of fans. Most music promoters and managers even lure their shy artists to experiment on drugs. You can equate these stuffs too doping in sports competition.
Q: Have you ever smoke Marijuana, Heroin or Cocaine? If yes, why did you engage in the smoking and for how many years did you smoke?
I first tried Marijuana when I was 10 years old, caused trouble at home. Later, I went to my Grand mother’s village, there I first tried taking Cocaine.
YES I DID COKE FOR A YEAR ’86-’87 WITH FRIENDS AND FANS. I TRIED HEROIN THE DAY FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI WAS RELEASED FROM JAIL. WHAT I DID WAS TO GET A MATCH-BOX OF ‘HEROIN’ FROM A (ONE PERSON) WHO JUST RETURNED FROM KARACHI. HE’S BEEN PROMISING ME GIFT EACH TIME HE TRAVELS. BUT THAT DAY HE GAVE ME THE SUBSTANCE (HEROIN) AND I LINED MY HERB WITH IT.
AS SOON AS I DREW A PUFF FROM THE CONTAMINATED HERB (LACED IN COCAINE), I STARTED THROWING UP AS I WAS DRIVING AND I HAD AN ASSIGNMENT TO READ A POEM AT THE FELA’S PRESS CONFERENCE THAT EVENING. MY POEM WAS A NEAR DISASTER SO I GAVE THE MATCH-BOX LOAD OF ‘HEROIN’ TO MY TAILOR WHO ALSO WAS MY WEED SUPPLIER.
THE NEXT DAY AS I WENT TO MY TAILOR, I LEARNT HE MOVED OUT IN A HURRY THAT SAME NIGHT. I DID NOT ALLOW THE THOSE SUBSTANCES TO ENGULF ME. WHATSOEVER I DID, I REFUSED TO SNIFF COKE… JUST ROCKS. I MADE SURE AFTER EVERY ACTIVITY, I MUST CLEAR THOSE POLLUTION WITH THE CALI-WEED. I AM ALWAYS COMFORTABLE WITH THE HERB. HOWEVER, ALL THOSE WERE SHORT LIVED USAGE EXCEPT THE HERB WHICH IS OFF AND ON TILL FOUR YEARS AGO.
Q: How were you able to stop smoking? How were you rehabilitated from the drug addiction?
I WAS NEVER REHABILITATED AND WILL NEVER BE REHABILITATED. FOR JAH IS MY KEEPER… WHAT I DISCOVERED WAS THAT IT WAS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH ME. I DON’T FORCE IT. AS A POLICY, I NEVER BUY WITH MY MONEY WHAT I THINK WILL HARM ME. I AM NOT ADDICTED TO NOTHING EXCEPT TO MYSELF.
Q: Do you believe there are advantages in smoking Marijuana instead of cigarettes?
DEFINITELY THERE LIES GREAT ADVANTAGES IN SMOKING MARIJUANA, INSTEAD OF TAKING CIGARETTE. THERE ARE LOTS OF ADVANTAGES. THE HERB IS A NATURAL THING WHILE CIGARETTE IS FULL OF CHEMICAL AND GUN POWDER SUBSTANCE. THAT IS THE REASON A LOT OF PEOPLE DIE IN THEIR SLEEP WITH CIGARETTE IN THEIR HANDS. THE CIGARETTE PAPER IS MANUFACTURED IN A LIQUEFIED GUN POWDER SUBSTANCE WHICH MUST BURN OUT WHETHER YOU SMOKE IT OR NOT… BUT THE WEED IS NOT, SO IT GOES OUT WHEN IT DISCOVERS YOU ARE NOT ACTIVE ON IT.
Q: Can you live each day healthier without smoking Marijuana?
SURELY I CAN EVEN LIVE HEALTHIER WITH THE HERB… BECAUSE THE HERB IS MADE FOR MAN AS MEAT. YOU CAN USE HERB IN THE TEA OR PINCH IT INTO YOUR MEAL AS A SPICE.
Q: Your intimate friend, Majek Fashek, the rain maker was caught in this web of drug. How did he become a drug addict?
YOU SEE I AM NOT GOING TO SIT HERE AND PRETEND I KNOW HOW OR EVEN CONFIRM MAJEK FASHEK WAS EVEN INVOLVED IN DRUGS. I DON’T DEAL WITH ISSUES HYPOTHETICALLY. ONE THING I KNOW IS THAT WHEN WE WERE PLAYING TOGETHER HE NEVER EVEN SMOKED THE HERB. AMERICA HAS A WAY OF MAKING AND BREAKING THEIR THEIR OWN.
Q: What steps have you taken so far to save Majek Fashek from drug addiction?
LIKE I SAID BEFORE, I DO NOT KNOW IF HE IS ON DRUGS OR NOT… I HAVE NOT SEEN HIM ON DRUG ONCE. I AM NOT EVEN INVOLVED WITH ANY REHAB PROGRAM WITH HIM BUT TO TRY TO GET HIM BACK TO WHAT HE KNOWS BEST, WHICH IS MUSIC MAKING.
Q: How come the glory of Majek Fashek just dried up in the global music circle?
ANOTHER HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION. I THINK MAJEK IS NOT DRIED UP BUT JUST COOKING-UP SOMETHING THAT WILL TAKE NIGERIA BY STORM AND MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY.
Q: How did you and Majek Fashek met?
MAJEK AND I MET AT THE NIGERIAN TELEVISION STUDIOS IN BENIN BEFORE WE DISCOVERED WE WERE FIRST COUSINS ON THE MATERNAL SIDE. HE WAS ON A WEEKLY MUSICAL PROGRAM CALLED ‘MUSIC PANORAMA’ AND I WAS A THE DRAMA SIDE WRITING AND PARTAKING ON MY SCRIPT IN COMPANY OF ORITS WILLIKI ON A PROGRAM CALLED ‘VARIETY SHOW’. I WAS INVITED BY PAT FINN THE ‘MP’ PRODUCER TO DO DILLINGER’S ‘COCAINE RUNNING.
THE REST WAS HISTORY. I FOUND OUT MAJEK PLAYS, SING GOOD AND I PLAYED THE DRUMS AND CHANTS WITH HIM. HE TOLD ME HE HAS A GUY WHO COULD PLAY THE BASE GUITAR WHOSE NAME HE GAVE AS AMOS McROY. WE BONDED INSTANTLY BECAME R.A.M. BEING OUR INITIALS. THE STORY BEHIND OUR FAMOUS BAND NAME THEN Ja’Stix CAME TO THE FORE WHEN AN OLD SAILOR FRIEND JOINED OUR GROUP. THE NAME WAS DENNIS CECILIA. JAHWALKINGSTICKS WAS ACTUALLY SPELT ‘JA’STIX’ USING ‘WORD, SOUND AND POWER. HALF OF THIS STORY STILL NOT TOLD.
Q: Take us through your adventure in the Nigerian music industry….
INTERESTING TIMES I WOULD SAY. OUR BAND WAS THE FIRST ALL DREAD-LOCKS GROUP THAT TOOK REGGAE MUSIC ACROSS NIGERIA THEN. WHEN WE MOVED TO LAGOS FROM BENIN, WE WERE TREATED AS OUTCASTS. THAT WAS THE PERIOD WHEN THE GOVERNMENT WERE SENDING ILLEGAL ALIENS BACK TO THEIR COUNTRIES. I CAME UP WITH THE IDEA ‘NO BLACK ALIEN IN AFRICA’. THOSE STEPS LED US TO FORM ROOTRON MEANING ‘RAINBOW ORGANIZATION OF THE RASTAFARIANS OF NATION’.
INFACT I WAS HARASSED SEVERAL TIMES BY GOVT OFFICIALS WHO SAW ME AS A GHANIAN NATIVE… THROUGH OUR AGITATION, A LOT OF BREJINS ESCAPED DEPORTATION. THEY WERE GIVEN IDENTIFICATION (I.D) CARDS BECAUSE THE GOVT WAS NOT HONOURING THE PMAN’S I.D CARDS ANY MORE.
WE HOSTED PROPHET GAD. THE FOUNDER OF THE ‘TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL.’ WE TOOK MUSIC TO THE PRISONS WHILE FELA WAS BEING INCARCERATED. WE PLAYED TWO SHOWS IN ONE DAY IN THE NATIONAL ARTS THEATER TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE AFRICA NATIONAL CONGRESS (ANC) OF SOUTH AFRICA. WE PLAYED FREE MANDELA, FREE FELA AND LOT MORE.
Q: What are some of the unforgettable moments in your music career?
APART FROM THE ANSWER I ALREADY GAVE, I MET MY WIFE IN NIGERIA. SHE CAME FROM HOLLAND TO MY OWN LAND OF NIGERIA.
Q: Will you say President Muhammadu Buhari is trying for Nigerian musicians in the area of offering Entertainment loans’ package or he has failed the Entertainment industry in Nigeria?
IN AS MUCH AS I TRIED NOT TO BE POLITICAL, I WILL SAY PRESIDENT BUHARI IS NOT OUT TO SPEND MONEY BUT TO SAVE NAIRA FOR THE ECONOMY.
Q: Do you believe in Rastafarianism?
RASTAFARIANISM MAKE ME DEAL WITH NO ‘ISMS/SCISMS…’ RASTAFARIANISM IS THE FOUNDATION OF EVERY COMMUNITY, A WAY OF LIFE OF A PEOPLE WHO REFUSED TO BE WHAT OTHERS WANT THEM TO BE. I AM A RASTAMAN I WON’T DENY TILL THE DAY I DIE.
Q: What are your regrets in life?
I HAVE NO REGRETS IN LIFE. EVERYTHING I SAY IS TO THE GLORY OF THE MOST HIGH JAH.
Q: What are your secrets for looking healthy always?
I TAKE ENOUGH FRUITS, GIVING THANKS AND PRAISES TO THE MOST HIGH. I ENJOY READING MY BIBLE ONE CHAPTER A DAY AS REQUIRED OF US BY OUR BELOVETH PROPHET GAD UNIVERSALLY…
Q:Do you believe SEX is good for you looking healthy? If yes, how many times do you have sex daily, weekly or monthly?
SEX IS GOOD. SEX MUST BE FOR A PURPOSE, NOT AS A LEISURE BUT FOR PRODUCTION. THERE IS TIME FOR EVERYTHING. I AM NOT A MANIAC. I ALWAYS HAVE ONE WOMAN AT A TIME BUT I THINK IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR PRODUCTION.
Q: Take us through your unforgettable relationship with Fela Anikulapo Kuti…
I HAD BEEN A DISTANCE FOLLOWER OF THE CHIEF PRIEST FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI FROM THE EMPIRE DAYS THROUGH CROSSROAD HOTEL. I WITNESSED 1,000 SOLDIERS MARCHED ON FELA’S KALAKUTA REPUBLIC. WHEN FELA WAS THROWN IN JAIL FOR HIS MONEY IN ’83/’84… JA’STIX REGGAE ITAL AND EGYPT ’80 BAND WERE PLAYING @ THE AFRICAN SHRINE TO KEEP THE FANS ENTERTAINED.
INFACT I WAS AT BEKO RANSOME KUTI’S HOUSE WHEN I FOLLOWED HIM TO SEE FELA IN BORNO WHERE THEY JUST MOVED HIM TO. BEKO (ANIKULAPO KUTI) HAD GONE TO TOWN TO BUY KPAKO…. AFRIKAN CHEWING STICKS FOR FELA WHEN SUDDENLY A 505 STATION WAGON VAN PULLED UP TWO WARDERS CAME OUT WITH FELA AND THAT WAS HOW HE WAS RELEASED TO US. I WAS THERE WITH AIB OF AIBTONIA AND KEJI FELA AND SOME FEW SHRINE BOYS… AFTER THE WARDERS LEFT FELA NEEDED TO GO TO YABA… HE REQUESTED FOR TRANSPORT I WAS THERE WITH MY STUDIO’S RANGE ROVER… AIB WAS ALSO THERE WITH A RANGE ROVER FOUR DOORS BRAND NEW… FELA CHOSE TO FOLLOW ME.
FUNNY ENOUGH WE WERE STILL DRIVING ODD AND EVEN NUMBER PLATE REGULATIONS THAT WAS PUT IN PLACE IN 1977 BECAUSE OF FESTAC. WHEN THE YELLOW FEVER STOPS ME AND THEY SEE FELA, IT WAS LIKE A LICENSE FOR ME TO BREAK THE RULES AND THE RULES I DID HAPPILY BREAK.
WE HELD A DANCE THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY AT THE SHRINE. FUNNY ENOUGH, I HAD ADVERTISED THAT FELA WAS GOING TO BE THE SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOUR AT THE SHOW AND THE PROPHECY CAME TO PASS… FELA CAME IN WITH HIS ENTOURAGE INCLUDING DR. BEKO AND THE DOCTORS’ UNION. PROFESSOR KOYE AND FEW MINISTERS WERE ALSO THERE.THEY CAME IN WHEN WE WERE ALREADY PLAYING ON STAGE. PLAYING CHAIN MUSIC, MEANING NON STOP FROM ONE NUMBER TO ANOTHER.
FELA STORMED OUT AGAIN ALMOST THE WAY THEY CAME IN. IT WAS UNKNOWN TO US THE REASON FOR HIS EXIT. BUT AFTER ABOUT 2 OR SO MINUTES WE SAW THEM TROOPED BACK IN… SOMEBODY CAME ON STAGE AND MOTIONED US TO STOP AND WE DID. HE MADE A SHORT ANNOUNCEMENT WHERE HE REVEALED TO THE CROWD THAT FELA THOUGHT THAT WE WERE PLAYING CASSETTE SOMEWHERE ON THE STAGE… BUT WHEN WE WERE AGAIN ALLOWED TO PLAY, MAJEK WAS SINGING WATER NOR GET ENEMY’ ON BOB MARLEY RHYTHM… FELA CAME ON STAGE AND STARTED TO JAM WITH US ON KEYBOARDS… MY KEYBOARDIST HAD TO PLAY PERCUSSION… SO EVERY SUNDAY THAT BECAME THE SIGHT FELA JAMMING REGGAE.
IN A WAY HE WERE SURPRISED AT THE INSTRUMENT WE HAD ADDED TO FROM OUR STUDIOS FOR THE PURPOSE OF THE SHOW. I COINED THE WORDS : FOR EVER LIVES ANIKULAPO, FELA. SOMETIMES I TURN THE A’ TO AFRICA OR AFRO-BEAT’. I WAS JUST ABOUT THREE MONTHS IN EUROPE WHEN I HEARD HE PASSED INTO GLORY… I BLESSED JAH FOR KNOWING HIM…. IF I BURNT THE CHAR-LACE THAT DAY WAS TO BLESS THE NAME OF THE LORD…. MY WIFE ACTUALLY CAME FOR FELA… #ASOJAHWORKS.
Rasta Black Rice’s PROFILE:
Black by nature ‘Rice by choice.He is originally from the tribe of Issachar but enjoyed being called Asher.
Black was born 18th Dec. in the year of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
He studied arts and language at the prestigious Katholiek Universitiet Nymegen Holand.
Black ‘Rice created the first all dreadlocks reggae group called JA’STIX (Jahwalkingsticks) with world famous Majek Fashek on Guitar&vocals and Bass Guitar Guru Amos McRoy now Pastor Gorge Orwels in 1983. They were the first Nigerian group to play two shows in a day at the prestigious National Theatre in Nigeria to raise funds for Mandela’s Africa National Congress (ANC),they performed alonside Bee Gee (Boye Gbenro) at the AfricanShrine while late Fela Anikulapo Kuti was in jail and played regularly at Cabban Bamboo featuring Ras Kimono and others alongside the Mandators. He is also the first reggae artist to take reggae music on tour Nigeria prisons in 1986.
He is a Senoir Elder at ROOTRON (Rainbow Organization of the Rastafarian of Nations Nigeria. He recieved Prophet Gad of the Twelve tribes of Isreal in lagos in 1986 as well as Mutabaruka, a Jamaican Rastafari dub poet, musician and actor and Linton Kwesi Johnson (LKJ) a UK-based second living poet, and only black poet, to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series.
Black ‘Rice released his first solo work tittled ‘BlAq AtAq’ on ROOTRON label in 1995 with songs like ‘Jesus is a Rastaman’, ‘Nigeria-Kontrimi Love’, Don’t Bleach, ‘Tokunbo cars’, ‘My Woman Marleen’, ‘The Poem’ and later under JAPEX Studio Label.
Black Rice has dual Nationality and continue to render selfless service to humanity which is the essence of Rastafarinity, the foundation of every community, in plain word..to be born again.
His favorite quote is “It is not what you do but how you do it”
He is happily married with children.