wir treffen ward 21 am letzten tag des splash!-festivals 2001 in der lobby ihres hotels. viele der jamaikanischen artistes lungern hier an diesem wochenende herum. die meisten sind zum ersten mal in deutschland und scheinen gar nicht zu realisieren, wie sehr sie mit sonnenschein gesegnet sind. es herrscht eine atmosphaere wie bei einer klassenfahrt. gerade scheint es um den kuechendienst zu gehen, aber nein: die yardies versuchen mit unbekuemmerter gleichgueltigkeit mcdonald's burger & fries in einem 5-sterne-hotel salonfaehig zu machen. es gelingt! im angesicht dieser haute cusine ist es echt nicht einfach, alle 4 members von ward 21 in ein gespraech zu verwickeln. die hyperaktivität der stageshow setzt sich beim interview fort:
done please introduce yourself!
suku alright, dis is andre aka suku. i make de riddims and deal wid mos' ah de production. listen
kunley i'm kunley aka kunley. *laughs* i write de lyrics, deal wid production, artistes... whatever!
rumblood my name is ronaldo aka rumblood! yuh see me? mi ah de vibemaster an' everyting! an' ting an' more time me put in a lickle one verse in ah lickle tune an' ting! so, ah so it go! alright!
mean dawg well, dis ah mark aka mean dawg, see me ah sey! an' mi deal with de business aspect ah de business, you understan'! an' do de deejayin' part when de lyrics dem passed away, you understan'? me dat!
done how it come you name ward 21?
kunley ward 21 is de psychiatric ward ah de university hospital inna jamaica. de ward whe full ah mad people, so... we choose dat name deh because it fit into our music. listen
done it's about some very characteristic voices in the ward! give me an example of dat?
suku + rumblood bloodstain-style listen
done when was ward 21 founded? have there been other things like solo careers before?
kunley as a group: 1998. all of us worked in king jammys studio as engineers. so we have been together before 1998. listen
done how did you get in connection with jammys?
kunley well, de whole ah we come from waterhouse all live ah waterhouse, where jammys' studio is. jammys comes from waterhouse. we go round ah de studio everyday, we 'par around dere an' ting an' we did play de sound. so jammy jus' call we one one inna de studio! after a time him jus' call we inna de studio an' sey: 'learn some engineering!' so de whole ah wi jus' end up work inna de studio! listen
done what kind of man is jammys? what does he mean to you?
kunley right now jammys is our producer, jammys is our manager, jammys is our employer... an' him our adapted fadda...*laughs*...seen! listen
done what was your first recording?
kunley first recording was summer 1998. done: what tune? rumblood: gal tief! kunley: tune name 'gal tief' but we never did put it out. and den we did a nex' one name 'nuh do dat'. nutten neva too... de tune deh neva really mek it still. we neva really put it on. den we do 'haters' and dat release inna october '98. badda badda! listen
done are there plans to take over jammys? i mean, you do a lot of producing there...
ward 21 no! no! no! we nah plan fi tek over jammys! we nah push it! we do our ting. de business level. done: you have this mentally disturbed label and there you do your own shit? kunley: yeah! done: alright! listen
done where did you get the ideas for your styles? it's kind of unusual! something different!
kunley i'll tell you from de start: yuh see 'haters', 'haters' was inspired by... (rumblood from the back: ...nuttin'!)... well de lyrics came from a personal experience, seen? but de style was inspired by general degree! him song name 'bag a tings'! dat was de style whe inspired 'haters'! an' den me see seh it work, an' yuh see, is not a voice whe me'd haffi put on ca' me natural voice dat. so me jus' keep it de same way deh! listen
done nice to hear that. i did not expect the humble talk. more something like: 'ah mi invent de style deh!'
kunley ah degree, man! degree me get de style deh from. listen
done beenie and lexxus and some others, they did tunes in that style...
kunley dat ah after we do it! 'bout two time we get two number one outta de style deh, so a man jus' feel like seh him mus' jus' try ah ting deh whe yuh deh, but... *kissteeth* dem cyaan do it like de original. rumblood: but you know no ting nuh betta dan de original... kunley: beca we never put on de voice. ah wi natural voice, seen! we never mek up we face fi do dat voice deh, yuh see me! mean dog: never even cry fi do dat voice! kunley: when we deejay so we nuh poop! *laughter* listen
done you seem to have international inspirations too, some hiphop influences and so on!
kunley me used to live ah new york. dis ah kunley, me used to live ah new york. so ah jus' dat mi deh ah listen for a while. me never used to get much reggae when me deh ah new york. so dat influenced my style. my style ah writing. listen
done since you call up degree already, are there other veterans you rate?
kunley yeah man. spragga benz... bounty killer... listen
rumblood cobra! spragga de benz pon de ends!
kunley buju banton... yeah man, ah nuff deejay... elephant
done 'bout the producing: how you come with basslines like the one pon trilogy-riddim. it's a mad thing! how you get those ideas?
kunley yuh know seh, we nuh really know de idea come, dem jus' jump up... yuh know seh, more time me ah sleep an' yuh jus' wake up and it supp'n come up in your head... yuh no know how it come... yuh jus' feel it! done: it's all in this ward21 mad thing?! kunley: ah jus' supp'n whe yuh feel... listen
rumblood all wit de swing!
done bada bada riddim: there are versions on shocking vibes and on jammys. are they both produced by you?
kunley de riddim was made by suku, seen! suku mek de riddim an' shocking vibes get a cut ah de riddim, but it's originally our riddim. shocking vibes get a cut an' overdub some tings. listen
suku dat was de biggest controversy inna dancehall in jamaica at dat moment, beca' a dat riddim. dat's what gi' de riddim de big hype... an' de recognition. done: so that was legal seh him get the cut from? suku: well, it was not really legal, but we made it legal... kunley: we work it out!
done what about awful records? you know something bout dat?
kunley ah john john ting dat. ah frien' dat, y'know. i'm a friend! colleague dat! done: there is the fat nash riddim that is announced. me no know since when and it never released yet. you know something bout that? kunley: only john john can answer dem question deh bout him production. is a bad riddim. riddim bad bad! mean dawg: ah ting name 'time bomb' soon come out weh ah hard, too. listen
done the trilogy took some time to come out. it was first on some samplers...
kunley yuh see trilogy, de reason it never did come out, beca' dere was a problem wit mastering. mean dog: at de dynamic sounds! kunley: at de pressing plant. dere was a mastering problem! dat's de reason why it never come out! done: so you did not wait for the hype and make the people really wait for it and then... kunley: dat's what we were planning to do, but den dere was a mastering problem, so we couldn't press no record. listen
done how much time is there between the final version of a riddim, when it's ready to get voiced by the artistes, and the release?
kunley it depends on de artistes dat you want, dem availability. an' whatever! sometimes it depends pon studio time, too, because king jammys studio... all ah king jammys son dem ah producer, so everybody use his studio! so we have like six different producers using one studio, so we jus' have to wait for de studio time. dere's a lot of factors a contradict to dat time. listen
done you made the remix of the punaany riddim. why jammys never did that before?
kunley yeah, suku idea. we do it from bada bada wit bounty killer, mek de remix bounty killer pon badda badda an' den we come up wit de idea fi do another one... but dis time was so we never go use one artist now, we ah go use a number ah hits whe we de put out before. so we jus' mek de one deh pon punaany. listen
done and then we could hear you pon shenk-i-sheck with 'point of conflict' and 'ganja smoke'. you plan to produce more slower riddims?
kunley yeah, yeah! we've dat inna de plans. done: so, is it more like remixing something, or... rumblood: no, no really but original! me no know how dem riddim ah ... me caan tell yuh ... but, yuh know it's like a reggae, yuh know. one drop ting! done: that's what you plan to do? the bob marley tune? kunley: not really bob marley but ah one drop, yuh know?! supp'n dancehall. rumblood: roots rock reggae! listen
done what happens in the dancehalls in jamaica, when your riddims come in?
mean dawg de hole place jus' explode! dat happen when time de riddim come out. get de whole place busy. so like how do de show yesterday (splash! 2001), it 'ave everybody busy, so de riddim dem 'ave people busy, capisce? listen
done are there dancing styles to the riddims? like on your show... who did the stepping?
mean dawg no, we nuh really dance, we just try a ting. we just try fi please de fans, yuh know, mek sure dem a feel nice. kunley: it's jus' part ah de entertaining! we sure seh when we do it yesterday everybody laugh! dat ah de aim fi get everybody fi laugh! put a smile on an' enjoy yourself ca we nuh want no vex face inna de crowd. nuh matter if yuh laugh after me, me nuh care, as long as yuh ah laugh! mek me feel good. done: is there a "trilogy dance"? *laughter* kunley: no! no! mean dawg: look out fi it later, hear! so every riddim whe we mek we start mek a dance fi it ca it seem like oonuh want some dance fi de riddim dem. alright, me mek a ting fi oonuh! yeah man, mean dawg, de little short one ah go do de dance dem. listen
done what is the unique thing about ward 21? what make it?
mean dawg to me, our style, our pattern, everyting is just different, see me. ca in our way we kinda changed de dancehall to me. our music different. we listen our flows other de flows before you can know it's a big difference. listen
done would you call yourself a boygroup?
rumblood no man, no dat choppin' boysgroup... dem ah pack fi dat! yeah, man ah thug, we ah no scrub, we nah tek box nah hug! we ah badman!! alright! you hear dat! listen
done what was this outfit? was this from a hospital?
kunley yeah, me an' him was de doctor dem from de ward an' dem was de mentally disturbed. *laughter* suku: no man, we deh ya ah de psychatric ward part imprisoned one... kunley: ah yeah! seen seen! done: that was prison coat? kunley: we never carry de straight jacket ca' if yuh put straight jacket pon dem dem couldn't hold de microphone! listen
done are there controversies between you and other crews like t.o.k. or a.r.p.?
rumblood no man, we dun tell you seh we ah thug, we nah tek box nah hug! we ah badman!! no war war ting! if ah war, ah real war! listen
kunley real real war! nuh joke war! we nuh inna dat! yuh have a ting where elephant say 'passa passa'! we nuh mix up inna it, seen!
done when can we expect your album?
kunley it supposed to name 'mentally disturbed' an' it supposed to drop in september! done: how many tunes will be pon it? kunley: well, a whole heap beca me tink it's a double cd. so dere are tunes from '98 right into 2001! done: and for the vinyl? you must see that many dj and selectors don't buy cd. kunley: vinyl ah deh deh, man. nuh worry bout de vinyl! everyting! all cassette! yuh want cassette, too? or 8-track! suku: yuh want 4-track? yuh want a-dat? done: the only thing me want is double-vinyl, cause me no want see de cd with 25 tunes and buy de album with only 12 tunes. kunley: yuh mad, man? from wi ah sound man. we must do what sound man do! suku: yuh see de album now. it's nutten weh yuh expect from a dancehall, yuh see weh me ah sey! it nah go be jus' straight dancehall. it 'ave various little ting weh we experiment. ca member, yuh know, we ah mad. so we do experimental work, see mi. we experiment inna every little different way, see mi! yuh 'ave mentalude, yuh 'ave outtalude an' yuh 'ave interlude. mentalude ah suppen weh jus' mad! an' yuh 'ave freestyle... listen
done you say, it will be not strictly dancehall. so like, on 'when the smoke clears' you have even some breakbeats like on buccaneer's 'loose ball' and maybe even some guitars, rock music, like bounty killer yesterday. in the intro it was like a heavy metall group is coming in.
kunley alright, we do a song weh we use de melody of black sabbath guitar riff. pon fat nash. *alltogether beavis&butthead-style* yeah man, don't worry man. me can't give you review too much of what on it still. mean dawg: yeah, we have fi have a surprise. kunley: oonuh fi get a surprise. me waan if yuh listen de album yuh go: 'ah, yeah!' me caan tell yuh everyting. listen
done for you it's the first career. you want stick together or are there plans that each one make a solo-project like we have it from hiphop-acts like wu-tang-clan?
kunley hear wha gwaan now: we have a ting call ward 21. ward 21 is four people. one person cannot be ward 21... seen? as long as dere's going to be ward 21, it's going to be four people. untill our voice box drop inna we belly! *laughs* done: but maybe scare dem crew did not expect that they will part...kunley: scare dem crew was a group of solo artistes, just like monster shack is a group of solo artistes. we were never solo artistes! rumblood: yuh understand?!? done: yes! kunley: capisce! listen
done what are your future plans? where it gonna reach to?
kunley well, dat depends... pon de public. only de public can tell where we ah gwaan to. we caan say. we caan say mek sure when we a come back to germany, probably at platinum album, we caan say dat, only de public can say dat! done: so you deh pon stage and try a new style and when the people love it, then... kunley: not all de time, some of de time we doin' dat, but not all de time, some time we just go on an' do hits, some time we try a new ting fi see de response. we caan do dat all de time. we nuh big as some artistes, we nah big like bounty killer, we nah big like beenie man, seen? but we caan dictate to de people! we caan do dat yet, seen? so we haffi do wha' de people dem want. listen
done could you give me something to the fans here in germany?
rumblood germany fans! mek mi tellin' oonuh supp'n! de album when it come out me waan oonuh go get it! we love oonuh like how god love likkle children, me fans dem. an' all who hate we we love oonuh still an' we pray fi oonuh! yeah? alright! listen
kunley *styling*
thanks to ward21
interview by done for sound-everest.com