In a telling indication of how big Jamaican superstar Gyptian has become, my interview slot dramatically eroded like the world economy as twenty minutes swiftly turned to ten because of demands on his schedule by other journos. However, I was still immensely grateful to get a little bit of time with the talented man. Looking every inch the global star in some tight kicks, he was in the UK to promote his huge single Hold Yuh. Let the ten golden minutes begin…
Thanks for taking the time out. Got to say guy, you look a tiny bit tired. I am sure that you’ve got a long day ahead.
Yes I am a bit tired, definitely. I just got in yesterday, so for real it will be a long day. Let’s go for it.
So firstly, how influential were your early years in the church with Mr Wong and how did that help you become a performer?
He definitely was hugely influential in that decision because he gave me the inspiration, the motivation and the confidence to get into the music business – all the way from recording to performing live.
Was Mr Wong more like your producer or a mentor?
He was more of a mentor-come-manager – someone who just helped me to move into music. He was the one and only person that gave chances to the youths in my area.
Have you been a bit surprised by your level of your success in a relatively short period of time and did you always envisage that you would have this kind of fame?
No, I never thought that this would happen. I always knew there were possibilities. As it started, I realised that I had to just keep my composure, and focus on what I was doing. Naturally, I just focused on what made me big which is making good music that hopefully lasts.
And what about breaking the US like your friend Wayne Wonder? Has that been something that you always hoped would happen?
I mean, that’s like breaking the whole globe, really. I want to be established like Michael Jackson or Celine Dion – on those vibes where you just say the name and people know who you talking about. So for me, that is what I am out to get.
When you think about it, you’ve become famous really quickly –it’s taken a relatively short space of time to get to where you are. You’ve spent, like, seven years deep in the business?
Officially it’s seven years, yes – but I think it’s only about five years professionally. But, for real, it has been a really quick thing.
And what would you say about the music industry? Is it a cut-throat place even for someone like yourself? Do you have to be wary?
Yes, it is it very cut throat, and it’s not the glamourous place you might imagine. You have to be very careful by having good people around you that keep you focused on what you have to do. It’s easy to be led astray.
Worldwide success brings with it a lot of attention from sexy ladies. Have you met any goldiggers?
No, not really gold-diggers, it’s just girls that love us, and naturally, you just have to learn to control their love for you. It’s as simple as that.
Let’s talk about Hold Yuh. It has been hugely successful, but what’s the message or vibe for those who may not have heard it?
I mean, in a sense it is naturally about holding the fans – being, in a sense, dramatic for the fans. I am an entertainer and I have to entertain people and so I wanted to change up the vibe. You can’t be in one basket all the time. Mama Don’t Cry is a different sound from Serious Times. You have just got to feel the fans and know instinctively what they want and so I wanted to drop Hold Yuh.
Are you leaving your roots?
Gyptian would never change from his roots, but Gyptian is ready to continue to rise up in the music and stay fresh and progress.
Lastly, what do you do outside of music to switch off and relax?
Gyptian laughs and sings: ‘Getting high/with some real Jamaican supply.’ I don’t think he’s joking.
So here at Flavour, we are pushing a theme regarding pioneers. So for you, who would you say has been the biggest pioneer musically?
It’s got to be Michael Jackson – because no one has been able to achieve what he has. Everything about him had no limits.
And what about a pioneer who has inspired you outside of music?
There are a few I could say. I’d have to choose Obama because he is a unique, living historical figure.
Interview by Semper Azeez-Harris