Gyptian entered the Reggae scene in a big way in 2005, capturing the hearts of the nation with the socially-conscious anthem ‘Serious Times,’ a song considered by many as the song of 2005. Nicknamed from his habit of tying a shirt around his head and twisting his chin hair like an Egyptian pharaoh, he released his debut album ‘My Name Is Gyptian’ which included romantic ode ‘Beautiful Lady,’ ‘Is There A Place,’ and ballad ‘Mama Don’t Cry’.
After a 2 year hiatus, he has returned with his long-awaited sophomore ‘I Can Feel Your Pain’ which is lead by the hit-single of the same name. Marvin Sparks caught up with Gyptian to talk about the album, his robbery at gun point and what he represents both musically and as a person.
Marvin Sparks : It has been a long time since we last heard from you. What have you been up to since your debut album ‘My Name Is Gyptian’?
Gyptian: Been doing shows - trying to make ends meet and make life a little better off - and promoting the word of Reggae music, y'know. Make my mother cry no more.
Marvin Sparks : You’ve returned with your new single 'I Can Feel Your Pain'. How did this song come about?
Gyptian: I'm a human being and my heart has been broken before so I know exactly what the pain feels like. It's worse then when somebody beats you up, man. Being broken hearted is [more wicked] and much worse than when someone punches you in the nose or beats you up, man, I'm telling you. So many men are in prison, so the [amount of] men are short and they keep going from one woman to another, leaving the women broken hearted and lonely. I'm just letting my girl know that I can feel her pain from a thousand miles away.
Marvin Sparks: The album is of the same name. How would you describe the album?
Gyptian: It's all about music, ya feel me? It's all about Gyptian getting to know the people more and showing my versatility. It's about me growing and being more and more advanced as each day comes. I also want this album to go to number 1 because it's released on my birthday, so my wish, for my present, is that I get a number 1 album.
Marvin Sparks : You express a lot of concern for how poor people are treated on 'Nobody No Cry'.
Gyptian: Well naturally it's all about keeping it calm and keeping it cool, nobody cries when poor people die. Where I'm from, it seems like the innocent, poorer class of people - as people like to call them even though they have the same heart, same blood and everything, people say they are the poorer class people. And the next man who has the same heart, the same blood, same heartbeat but has money, they say he is the richer class.
I've seen it happen thousands of times and I wish it would stop. When things happen to the poor in the ghetto, no one really finds out what really took place, they just leave it at that. They don't have the [police] forces out there, or places locking down, you don't see [anything]. I've seen people that have died [in more privileged areas] and you see the place has been locked down and you just think: “so what about the other man [from the ghetto] that got killed?” In this society there is no fairness in that; so it`s like, what would my life had been if couldn`t sing? So it hurts man, it really hurts.
Marvin Sparks : Is 'More Money' based on a true story?
Gyptian: That's a song about when they robbed me. I just took a little piece of [the event] and said 'Through the rain, in the storm/ I will be there still working on/ Take my chain, take my phone/ Me ah tell you nothing still ah gwarn/ I'm alright, I'm ok/ Me still ah chant life song everyday'. I got robbed at gun point. They put the gun in my face and took my chain and left, but I just live, y'know?
Marvin Sparks : That happened since you've been a singer?
Marvin Sparks : That's crazy. Aside from social commentary and tales of hard-living you have more spiritual songs such as 'Thanks and Praise'.
Gyptian: That song is for all the things I have been through and the success I have had so far. To the almighty you have to give thanks. As you meet success - like every man - you have to give praise, you have to pray and do everything right to the almighty, and so that`s my song to the people. Whenever you meet success, give thanks and praise and you will always have success.
Marvin Sparks : There also seems to be quite a strong American R&B influence also on the album.
Gyptian: Well it's not so much American R&B you know, it's more Jamaican with a soul vibe; Reggae Soul.
Marvin Sparks : Ok, so outside of Reggae, who are you currently listening to?
Gyptian: A whole heap of artists; I listen to Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Mary J Blige. You have man like Usher, Tyreese, Michael Jackson, R. Kelly - you name it etcetera. I'm just a music lover.
Marvin Sparks : Who or what were your influences growing up?
Gyptian: Life itself; growing up my main influence was in the church. The whole thing started in church. [As a youth] I would go to church and sing the hymns and hold a vibes, but when later on came I was in the dancehall [laughs]. My father had a sound system so I had both sides to pick and choose from.
Marvin Sparks : Since you burst onto the scene, a heard of artists have come out. What are your thoughts on them?
Gyptian: They are just some youth`s, who like me, were out in the wilderness and then used their talent wisely; no matter if they want to be [rapping] derogatory stuff. That`s just a Dancehall thing in Jamaica, it`s not the culture. People have been dying since before all of these people came out and still dying. The young youths are the ones who have to decide not to go and kill people.
Marvin Sparks : On the Reggae side of things, who would you recommend?
Gyptian: I like a lot, Tarrus Riley is my singer and I like Etana, I-Octane, Lutan Fiyah... It's a blessing to see many come through after me.
Marvin Sparks : As you mentioned before, you`ve toured a lot of places. Where exactly have you been?
Gyptian: Well, I`ve been to Senegal, America, England, all of the Caribbean islands. I was supposed to go to Japan but I didn`t get to reach due to circumstances.
Marvin Sparks : Any final words?
Gyptian: Buy your copy [of the album], buy one for your girl and one for your girl's friend. Buy the Gyptain album as my birthday gift; that's my birthday present