Vybz Kartel has a new album out and he did a candid interview with Billboard, his first in four years.
This is quite a busy time in the life of dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel. He has just released a new album, and he has also applied to take his murder case to the Privy Council. Billboard was able to catch up with the prolific dancehall deejay to discuss his murder trial, his upcoming Privy Council hearing, his family, and of course, his music. As he is currently incarcerated at the St. Catherine Adult Correctional Facility in Spanish Town, the interview was not a typical one.
Unable to make his comments in person, the interview was organized by Zoe Espita, co-founder of Zojak World Wide. Although it was a tedious process, it was more than worthwhile. The interview questions were emailed to Espita, and she, in turn, had them sent to Vybz Kartel. After relaying the necessary answers to her, she then emailed them to Billboard.
Discussing Kartel’s big move to have his case heard by the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, his newly appointed lawyer, Isat Buchanan, says he planned to ask the question whether or not Vybz Kartel gets a fair trial. Buchanan plans to push forward at the Privy Council because that’s what the rules of the Jamaican court system allows.
The Privy Council decision followed the Court of Appeal’s denial handed down on April 3rd of this year. In his first interview in four years, Vybz Kartel was finally able to express his emotions about his dire situation. “I would like to say re the Privy Council that I am going to be out soon,” Vybz Kartel told Billboard. “Law and statute are what the council deals in, not corruption. The appeal hearing in Jamaica, just like the trial, was a joke, a kangaroo court, a circus.”
Vybz Kartel is well known for being an exceptional father. Despite being out of their lives, he maintains a relationship with his children and continues to provide for them. Without a doubt, his incarceration had a huge impact on them and the lives of his loved ones. Vybz Kartel opened up about the pain tethered to such a tragic event, “Being in prison for the last nine years definitely took a toll on my family, my parents and especially my kids, early on. It caused me and my woman’s (Shorty) relationship to be destroyed as far as intimate love is concerned but we’re very cool and have never been in a better place.”
Referring to sons Likkle Vybz and Likkle Addi, both of whom are dancehall artistes like their father, Vybz Kartel shared a sobering fact he thinks that they have a bright future in dancehall.
Touching on the sensitive subject of his 2011 arrest, his 2014 conviction and Jamaica’s justice system, Vybz Kartel explosively rages, “Since I got arrested, over 11,000 people have been murdered in Jamaica; the general public couldn’t care less because Vybz Kartel or another star’s name isn’t mentioned. Everyone is concerned with where Lizard is. Kids have been murdered but, whatever, they’re just kids…elderly have been murdered but that’s nothing…they were gonna die anyway. ‘WE WANT JUSTICE FOR LIZARD!!!’ is their cry. F–king idiots. Over 11,000 people and no national outcry. I don’t even blame government as much anymore because as the Jamaican saying goes, ‘if patient don’t care, what doctor must do?’ So, there is no fair trial.”
His statements obviously show that he is still quite angry over the events and rightfully so. According to him, he has been robbed of the past nine years of his life. Billboard asked the Teacha how he has survived prison so far and he responded, “I’m a very stubborn person, that’s where I get my strength from. If you’re gonna say Kartel being in prison will end his career, I’mma do everything to show you’re an idiot.”
Making note of Buju Banton’s recent On Stage interview, the publication queried as to what makes Vybz Kartel a successful artiste. Buju had stated in the interview that when he was incarcerated back in 2010, he remembers Vybz Kartel being the hottest thing in the music industry. He added that upon his release in December 2018, “a Kartel me see run the place same way.”
There is no question about Vybz Kartel’s brilliance and resilience, but how did he manage to achieve it all while behind bars. To this, he replied, “The true secret to success is commitment, hard work, smart work, self-analysis and most important, humility,” Kartel said. “Once I face a riddim (rhythm track), I’m not worldboss, just a man with a pen, paper and a track. Other artists are working hard, so I think it’s just the formula.”
Breaking down his new album “Of Dons & Divas, Kartel states, “A winning formula never really changes, it just gets wider, more ‘depthy’ so it’s Kartel in his usual Vybz. This album has more features than the new S Class Benz, a new generation of dons and divas.”
There have been a lot of questions on everyone’s mind regarding the album. How has Vybz Kartel maintained a presence in the music industry, steadily releasing tracks, as recording music in prison isn’t permissible? Vybz Kartel gives his typical out of this universe intellectual mind response, while simultaneously taking a shot at Jamaica’s justice system once again, “Many people say YES! VYBZ IS RECORDING IN PRISON!! But where’s the proof? But this is Jamaica where you don’t need proof to imprison someone. For the record, I’m not authorized to answer such ‘above pay grade’ questions so I’ll say, ‘a tree fell in the forest and no one was there to hear it.'”
With the current state of the world, with the protests against racism, police brutality, and the various other issues many are struggling with, music has been an important staple. It has allowed persons who believe that they have no voice, to convey how they are feeling. Music has allowed many to have a fight song, an anthem to rally behind. Vybz Kartel is no novice to preaching about ghetto youths and their struggles, poverty, and an uncaring government. However, he does not believe that there needs to be more talk about the issues as actions speak louder than words.
There you have it, and if you want results, you must first take action. Fans are delighted that they were able to be privy to such an honest and powerful interview. Vybz Kartel is truly a celebrated icon.