Veteran entertainer Big Youth readies ‘Cultural Icon’ album

Big Youth says the songs on his new album will authentic reggae tracks.

It was about a year ago when Big Youth announced that he was working on his new album, Cultural Icon. As the self-produced project neared completion, the hard drive storing the recordings crashed, leaving the veteran deejay to start from scratch.

“I’ve been working on it for the longest while, and that kinda hold me back a bit, so me actually have to be voicing the whole thing over, but it’s for a reason cause it’s gonna be better this time,” Big Youth told BUZZ.

“I want to press vinyl and LPs cause that’s what really happening, vinyl sells more than CDs.”

— Big Youth

The set is expected to host no more than 12 singles of “real, authentic reggae” music, and feature a variety of musicians.

“It’s not nuh beat, it’s rhythms,” he started. “It’s not people playing computer and automatic drums and automatic bass, it’s real human beings playing drums, bass, guitar and horn sections. Some of the greatest horn men playing like Herman Marquis (sax), Bobby Ellis (trumpet), David Madden (trumpet) and Vin Gordon (trombone), to name a few.”

Source of inspiration

Madden and Gordon played on his 1978 album, Reggae Gi Dem Dub, a project which he said was a major source of inspiration for Cultural Icon.

“We using up those rhythms with some modern equipment too. It’s all fantastic,” he said.

Cultural Icon is scheduled for release between May and June and will add to Big Youth’s catalogue of more than 20 albums. Often revered is his 1972 album, Screaming Target, produced by Augustus ‘Gussie’ Clarke which provided a template for the art of deejaying, a style earlier introduced by U-Roy. The album made Big Youth a household name in the European market.

Big Youth performing at the recent Dennis Brown Tribute Concert in Kingston.

For Cultural Icon, his biggest goal supersedes accolades, he just wants to get the record out.

“Me just a think fi put it out, if mi get a deal mi tek it if it’s feasible, cause mi nah go give people my things and dem own it forever and mi not getting nothing,” he said. “I’ve been burned so I learn.”

He’s also steering clear of digital distribution.

“I want to press vinyl and LPs cause that’s what really happening, vinyl sells more than CDs,” he said. “When yuh go online, yuh nah mek no money again. Everybody download yuh ting fi nutten; dem go YouTube, Facebook… it’s like it’s a whole free for all. It’s a sin for the poor artiste.”