Theory of Reggaetivity done from the heart
Speaking at last Wednesday's Reggae Talk, put on by the Department of Literatures in English, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, and hosted by Professor Carolyn Cooper, deejay Agent Sasco, an addition to his initial performer's name Assassin, explained the genesis of his latest album.
Among the tracks on Theory of Reggaetivity are: Feel Hirie, Mix Up, Afuca, Day In Day Out, Country Bus and Stronger (featuring Chronixx).
"My last album was in 2007," Assassin said. Between then and now, though, "it was not that I was not putting out songs".
He explained that his previous album (Gully Sit'n, which followed the 2005 Infiltration) came out on VP Records and "it took me about one and a half years to get out of that situation".
"The direction they were interested in, I was not interested in," he said. When that album came out it was after the death of his mother in 2005 and the addition of Agent Sasco to the already well-established Assassin persona. When the record label was pushing for him to go in the artistic direction they thought would work, Agent Sasco said, "I was not in Girls Gone Wild mode anymore.
"Them a tell me take off my shirt, show my abs, the girls will like it. I was past that stage long time," Sasco said.
Having got to Theory of Reggaetivity, Sasco said, "I feel my career up to this point has been preparation for the work I have to do, going forward."
However, he said, there have been naysayers about the project, as "doing something for the love of it don't make sense to a lot of people". Those were the people who said reggae is not selling and it was folly to put out an album independently.
"I took everything out of my mind, including what people had to say about what you a do. I did not tie myself to any outcome - if it don't sell one copy it mean we have to put more work into the next one."
But Theory of Reggaetivity has sold, debuting in the top three on the Billboard Reggae charts, doing much better by that marker than the previous full-length sets released under the name Assassin on VP Records.
Working with young producers was part of the process of making the album, and Agent Sasco said "there was no ego in any of the sessions". Two of those producers, Kimani Smith of Majah Label Music and Joshua Jones of Soundcheq, attended the Reggae Talk and spoke briefly about working on Theory of Reggaetivity.
Agent Sasco came to Theory of Reggaetivity with an established record of doing things his way. He said that he has been told several times which sort of songs "a run the place" and has not gone in the directions some people have tried to push him in.
He attributes his stance in large part to his father who, when he was 10 years old, looked to him like the biggest, strongest man on the earth, a person who took his own path.
"Me have bredren whose ears pierce and have tattoo and smoke, but a jus' no me that," said Agent Sasco, who noted that he has never smoked anything.