Musical Chairs | 'I am a connoisseur of good music' - Mikael Phillips shares entertainment taste
The six persons seeking to fill the four vice presidential seats in the People's National Party (PNP) have been invited to speak about their entertainment taste.
Mikael Phillips is the first to take a seat in our MUSICAL CHAIR.
A radiant smile is permanently etched on the face of Mikael Phillips as he speaks about his entertainment taste. At times, he shakes his legs as if he wishes he could get up and dance. But although confessing that he is no good at it, the People's National Party (PNP) vice-presidential candidate had no way of showing. His right leg is in a cast, having damaged his Achilles tendon, but he is in high spirits.
Phillips, a second-term member of parliament in North West Manchester, is not a wanna-be 'party man'. He had the privilege of growing up around entertainers such as Judy Mowatt and Ziggy Marley and was introduced to many others simply by lazing around his mother's Old Hope Road business, popularly known as Minnie's Ethiopian Vegetarian Restaurant.
His mother, Minion Phillips or Sister Minnie, was a personal chef to Bob Marley and some of the big names of reggae and dancehall, including Bongo Herman, Tiger, and Dennis Brown. His connection to reggae music, Phillips says, is partly owed to the exposure he got as a child watching musicians rehearse or just talk about social issues.
"It is a humbling feeling now just being able to share the experiences with my children. it is a realisation that I was around many icons," said Phillips, who enjoys sitting on his deck (whether by himself or with friends) streaming music or playing tracks from his collection of reggae albums.
DESCRIBE YOUR ENTERTAINMENT TASTE.
MP: A little old school, more reggae than dancehall, and I would say I am a connoisseur of good music. The late '70s and '80s is my hallmark for music, and if I was to look at the artiste that I like, it would be more reggae than dancehall, artistes like Protoje, Maxi Priest, and Steel Pulse. I am not a lover of dancehall music per se. I prefer the dancehall of yesteryears so as my favourite are Supercat, Brigadier Jerry and General Trees.
People’s National Party (PNP) vice-presidential candidate Mikael Phillips- Gladstone Taylor.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PASTTIME?
MP: Outside of watching my sport of choice - cricket with friends and family, I find satisfaction in just listening to music. The albums of Dennis Brown, Peter Tosh, Culture (a 1970s Jamaican roots reggae group), and pop-rock icon Sting, preferably his older work, are a few of the recording artistes whose music I enjoy. Chronixx, even though I find him rebellious, which is not so much of a bad thing, has also been added to the collection.
HOW IMPORTANT IS MUSIC IN THE POLITICAL ARENA?
MP: Well, everyone sees the response of the crowd when a person, or, more so, a politician can go up on a platform and dance to a tune. I am not a dancer, so I have to use my mouth to rile up the crowd instead, and I am definitely not a singer, not even for the purpose of karaoke.
WHICH POLITICIAN DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST DANCER OR SINGER?
MP: Dwayne Vaz and some of the younger people like Raymond Pryce can dance, but it gets them in trouble. The best singer is Natalie Neita, hands down. She is the Whitney Houston as she will melt any man's heart when she starts to sing. I haven't really heard anybody else attempt it.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE AFFECTING THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY?
MP: I think there is this want to arrive quickly before paying their dues. That is, once artistes get a one 'buss', they like to charge big money or an unreasonable sum, which keeps them out of the game. Likewise, even the cost of being able to prepare them for the wider market has resulted in many of the talented ones falling between the cracks. One of the joys of the earlier years of dancehall used to be lawns where artistes like Brigadier Jerry would go and freestyle. Nowadays, you have to pay an artiste to attend an event and freestyle for a few minutes. These platforms do not exist, and there is not a large proliferation of studios that work to groom an artiste or provide the exposure, which is also stifling a lot of them.
WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU HEAR THESE ARTISTES' NAMES?
- Buju Banton
MP: He is one of my favourite deejays. His music is relatable and he crosses over quite well from the days of his rough vocals to the more mature lyrics.
- Beres Hammond
MP: You can't get better than Beres Hammond. I remember listening to him as a youth and not knowing he was a Jamaican and thinking 'he is the ultimate'. Beres has not got his just due as a consistent artiste.
-Marion Hall. File
- Lady Saw/Marion Hall
MP: Which one? As Lady Saw, she started the ball rolling for female deejays and appealed to the populace back then when the era was changing from the 'good boy to bad boy' type of dancehall. I don't know much of her as sister Marion, but it is a good step in the right direction.
- Michael Jackson
MP: Him beat it and gone, plus, he created the thrillers in between.
MP: Not my favourite, not in sound or looks either.
- Vybz Kartel
MP: I think Vybz Kartel represents what growing up in certain circumstances, like him, without guidance, what can happen. Maybe if he was guided in his earlier years, with persons identifying this raw talent of his, he would be the greatest thing.