After five years in prison Vybz Kartel is finally speaking publicly and he is not mincing words that he is still running the dancehall.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine conducted through his lawyer, Tom Tavares-Finson, the Gaza don states that no dancehall artists has been able to take his place since he has been incarcerated. The DJ also denied rumors that he is recording new music behind bars.
“I’ve always been a prolific songwriter, and I record at breakneck speed as well, so I have a lot of surplus material to choose from. There is a recording studio at another correctional facility in Jamaica but none here … cellphones, laptops, or any Internet-capable instrument are prohibited items,” Kartel told Rolling Stone.
Kartel says his appeal is on track to go in front of the court although he did not want to go into the details of it. “I cannot speak much about it since it’s ongoing, but I’d like to reiterate to the fans that I’m an innocent man,” he says.
“Once you have been convicted of a crime, you have the right to appeal your conviction and or the amount of time you were given, so I’m exercising that right as a Jamaican citizen,” Kartel says. “It’s a very delicate issue.”
Kartel refers to artists like Alkaline and Gage as his “imitators, lookalikes and sound-alikes” that he is not the least bit impressed with.
According to Kartel, a lot of artists are only recycling his old lyrics and themes. “When I was on the street, other artists used to say, ‘Oh, I’m just as good as Kartel, he’s just on top because of this or that, his controversial persona,'” he says. “Now I’m off the street, and out of their way. No one can fill the shoes.”
While Kartel is not impressed with his imitators, he believes there are lots of great dancehall talents who do not get the same love as Drake and Rihanna got when they sampled dancehall music and this he blames on a lack of good promotion.
“I think the reason Jamaicans themselves haven’t gotten that crossover love is simply promotion – major record labels pumping money and resources into a Vybz Kartel or Mavado, getting the nationwide U.S.A. radio plays, things like that,” he says. “Jamaican music is very popular worldwide so it wouldn’t even be that hard to do, you know. It comes down to companies willing to push the product.”