Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Iconic reggae artiste Tappa Zukie considers himself an English rather than a Jamaican artiste.
According to the veteran, the Jamaican music industry shelved several of his biggest songs, only paying attention to Oh Lord, giving the appearance he is a one-hit wonder.
However, the deejay/producer says this is not so. As a matter of fact, according to Tappa Zukie, Oh Lord almost doesn't rank in the top-five songs of his catalogue.
Tappa Zukie released 17 self-produced albums in his long career.
Albums like Peace in The Ghetto, Living in The Ghetto, MPLA, Tappa Roots and Best on The Front Line remain relatively unknown in Jamaica.
The veteran was also signed to international record label Virgin Records in 1976. However, he and the record label later fought in court, after they allegedly tried to claim the production rights to his music.
"After the signing I wasn't getting the promotions that were promised. So me and them sorta had a problem. They have some songs for me but I don't really put out more albums with them because we disagreed over some matters. I don't really want to get into that but they wanted the production rights for my songs, even though they don't have a clue how my songs were recorded, and I couldn't allow them to take my producer benefits," he said.
Oh Lord was one of those songs produced and performed by Tappa Zukie, who says that since 1970 he has only recorded twice for producers other than himself.
Attention in England
The artiste/producer said early in his career he received attention in England before there was any breakthrough in Jamaica, which was his reason for doing Oh Lord.
However, he did not anticipate that the song would be the only single that local DJs would play from his entire catalogue.
"I expected Oh Lord to get attention in Jamaica because it was a hit on the British charts first. But when it was released in Jamaica it became an anthem. Even now people sample it without giving me profits from it, but it's just a good feeling to know that you make something that people want to use," he continued.
"I made Oh Lord to tap into the Jamaican audience because I wanted to reach the people, and from I said 'people are you ready' it was an instant hit. But I have several other songs bigger than Oh Lord that never get played in Jamaica," he said.
Tappa Zukie believes the top songs from his catalogue in ranking order include Phensic, which did well on Britain's national chart but was later banned in Jamaica, MPLA, Pick Up the Rockers, Man from Buzz Rock, Raggy Joey Boy, Natty Dread, and finally, Oh Lord.
"Phensic has to be the biggest song for me ever because it went on to the British national chart. Oh Lord was the biggest hit in Jamaica, but not the biggest song that I have ever done, that is just a misconception. A just the song that they decide to play here. When I am in England, Natty Dread is just like Oh Lord in Jamaica," he said.
Blame on local DJs
The veteran certainly wants his respect locally and blames local DJs for the lack of popularity of his other musical projects.
"I only see a few good DJ right now. They follow each other and play the same songs. These DJs need to be put through a test before they put them on the radio. They get paid to play certain songs so they just play for the money," he continued.
"Some of them sell out reggae music because they don't play reggae music, it's all about the hype. They need to take a page out of the books of DJs abroad. You can play dancehall, but you must know that dancehall is just a fraction of reggae music, it's just a beat. That's why the only set of musicians left in Jamaica are Sly and Robbie," Tappa Zukie said.
"They are not paying attention to music here [Jamaica]. Don't sell yourself to the people who are ripping off the music. I don't have problems playing my songs in England and I don't have to pay for it. That is why I would consider myself to be an English artiste. I used to run my own company here [Jamaica] called Tappa records, and I had to close it down because they want me to pay to play the songs. I am not making that kind of money from the songs locally," he said.
Tappa Zukie is making preparations for an upcoming tour of the Caribbean, Europe and the United States. He also has a new album called X Is Wrong, which is available on iTunes and on his online store. www.tappazukiemusic.com.
"I'm just talking the truth as an original musician and producer. DJs just know that it's not everybody must play the same thing," he said.