Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Chezidek militant on ‘Hello Africa’ album - ‘Stunting’ in birthday Benz

Published:Monday | June 22, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Roots reggae artiste, Chezidek.
Reggae singer Chezidek.

Roots singer Chezidek celebrated his birthday on Saturday and the Rastaman is ‘stunting’ in a spanking new Mercedes-Benz, which he treated himself to on his special day. Chezidek, who recently released a potentially anthemic single, Because I’m Black, told The Gleaner that 2020 has been looking good for him, and he would be ungrateful to say otherwise.

“Right now, in 2020 mi pocket cyaan empty,” he said with a laugh. “Sometimes you just have to treat yourself in fine style. It’s a while since I bought anything for myself, so I just said, why not. It’s really nice, it’s bluish green,” he said of his luxury item. “But I am not a man who you going to see posting up on social media about this. It’s a quiet thing,” he emphasised.

Currently putting the finishing touches on his latest album project, Hello Africa, the uber-conscious reggae singer is anticipating a great reception for this militant and timely album, deliberately set to be released on July 23, the birthday of HIM Haile Selassie. In addition to the first single, Because I’m Black, there are plans to release a follow-up, the attention-grabbing March, which continues the conversation focusing on themes of blackness and racism. “I appreciate the love the people are showing to Because I’m Black, which is a song I did four years ago, but wasn’t officially released. A lot of work was put into that track. It was done live and some heavyweight musicians played on it, Flabba Holt, Robbie Lyn, George from Firehouse Crew and guitarist Con. The inspiration has been the black struggle in America, the struggle in China after the COVID and how they were treating the black people, and even the struggle in places like Morocco, where they treat Africans differently from how they treat the Europeans and the Arabs,” he said.

Chezidek related an incident at the Casablanca airport in Morocco in 2018 when he was in transit and all the black passengers were herded together in a cramped little area with total disregard, until “one person drop boof, and that’s when they came and ushered us into a section that was already prepared for us to stay comfortably while in transit”.

Not bitter

The singer maintains that his own personal encounters with racism have not left him bitter, he is simply more energised to record message music that will have an impact in and out of season.

“This vibes of this album can be compared to something from an artiste like Burning Spear. It is a project between my own label, Cheziberry Records and Tads Records, and we haffi give thanks for Tads, who I have done a lot of good work with throughout the years. Hello Africa is a protest album. It contains message songs and hymns that will be useful and necessary along the journey because music motivates and inspires,” Chezidek explained of the project which got under way last year.

A 13-track offering, Hello Africa is actually the second album to be released by the reggae singer this year. In April, he dropped Timeless, a collaboration with a French band, Ligerians, and which is almost the antithesis of Hello Africa. “This is a soothing album. It nah talk bout nuh black struggle and nuh fyah nah bun. White people love it,” he said, adding that he has a strong fan base in Europe, especially France.

For the past couple years, Chezidek has been performing mainly in the Caribbean and in Europe, and the vibration has been very good. Promotional plans for Timeless, which included performances at a number of big summer festivals in Europe, were put on pause owing to the pandemic, which also halted promotional shows in the US. “I didn’t have a US work permit for a couple years but I had a visitor’s visa, so I still travelled there. Just as I got back the work permit and decided to focus on the areas in the States that weren’t so familiar with me, like New York and Boston, this COVID thing came. But I did a beautiful promotional show in Brooklyn in February for Black History Month and was looking forward to doing some small shows so that when the album drop dem woulda grab it up like hot bread,” he said.

Chezidek remains confident, however, that come July 23, Hello Africa will impact the globe.