It has been about 12 years since Lutan Fyah emerged onto the music scene, after shifting careers from sports to music. Fyah retired from his post as a football player with the Constant Spring Hazards in 1998, and since then he has delivered a continuum of compellingly conscious lyrics in songs like Save The Juveniles, De La Vega and Crystal Clear, gaining notable favour in the international arena.
"Reggae lovers and fans of Jamaica gravitate towards we music. Some artistes jus a play with di ting and sing whatever they feel like and don't care about morals," explained the musician, "I choose to sing a different kind of song because music is entertainment and education at the same time." The artiste describes his music a as having a "raw gritty roots" sound. His music is evocative of Reggae's forefathers and with these powerful vibrations as his foundation, Fyah's international career has ascended beyond the reach of many of his peers.
Celebrated International Reggae artiste Lutan Fyah is known for his brutal honesty and unapologetic way of "speaking his mind". His interview with Iriezine of course only emphasized these characteristics. Just days after returning to the island from back to back tours in Europe and Africa, the artiste's overwhelming international success is evident, though he has yet to receive a comparable level of recognition at home. As he sat with us, the artiste made no attempt to "pretty up" his responses; like the lyrics in his songs he simply tells it like he sees it.
In defence of authentic reggae music he pinpoints Bob Marley and Peter Tosh's unapologetic use of our native dialect, even to foreigners with no attempts to "twang" to please a single soul. With this dedication to producing meaningful records, it is not surprising that he has been the recipient of several international awards including the IRAWMA (International Reggae and World Music Awards) award for Spiritual Service Through Music in 2009. The artiste spoke frankly about the demand for substantive music, saying, "What the fans of Reggae love is not what they getting, but what Lutan sing they love ? so they encourage me to keep doing it."
Fresh from a month long European tour through France, Germany, Italy and Poland, and subsequent African tour through Durban, Capetown, Johannesburg, and Zimbabwe, the soulful singer was much in tune with his fan response and shared experiences from his extensive travels across the globe. While each country was unique, the connective thread in his accounts was the overwhelming crowd response he received, "Tear dung! Di people love the vibe man. Me always perform from me heart and try to do mah best to connect with the people no matter what type of vibe I in otherwise," he declared with much pride. The artiste is adamant that he has liked everywhere he has gone, but as one might expect, Lutan's strong affiliation with the Rastafarian culture has made Africa a particular favorite continent to visit. In Zimbabwe he found the time to take on the philanthropic task of donating building blocks and footballs to a primary school.
Meanwhile many are of the opinion that within Jamaica Lutan Fyah is an underrated artiste. To this he responds, "No, Jamaican people love Lutan Fyah gone to bed! Is just true is what on the forefront dem a get," alluding to the mainstream push for up-tempo dancehall that has consumed the local market. Lutan explains that no matter the genre artistes who are generally favourites overseas do not often share a similar partiality at home commenting "this has always been the case from way back, like in the days of Shabba Ranks."
When asked if he believed he was doing enough to remain relevant in Jamaica, an assertive Lutan made it clear that his music is not made only for the charts, commenting "Lutan Fyah concentrates on making music. I'm always making music. I think that is enough? I'm not making music to make me popular." He however admits that he tries to maintain a balance between creating pure reggae and keeping up with current trends in order to keep reggae in the hearts of the youth, "Mi ah try keep the music in the most original form while communicating with the younger generation. Me need to have fresh music fi di youths."
Fyah unfailingly extols the benefits of an artiste remaining true to themselves, emphasizing the impact of coming from a culture as such rich and unique as Jamaica's. While he has dedicated himself to socially conscious and positive lyrics, he understands the darker elements which have emerged in the music today, saying "Artistes sing what they see- their culture, so it don't make sense to try fight out a artiste cause dem cyaan sing weh dem nuh know as their reality." The entertainer is clear on the close ties between Jamaicans and their music, saying "Music is life. Is like food we need it to survive; so we have a song for everything."
Having achieved such longevity in an atmosphere where an artiste is considered to have had a substantial career if they last 3 years; Fyah stays sharp. He is always mindful of the constant flow of talent on the island, "The amount of music made in Jamaica it's like Jamaica is too small- when you check it the competition is a lot so you find that you always have to keep creative."
He strongly believes that today, the onus is upon artistes to broaden their horizons and deliver authentic Jamaican music to the world, and not just to familiar places with an already established following. "It's a wide world and there are only certain territories that people investing in. Reggae is all over the world but the world is bigger than reggae right now so there is always room for growth and improvement."
Fyah implores artistes to stay true to the world healing power of authentic Jamaican music, saying, "A lot of people call themselves artistes but dem need to just make the music raw for the world to like it so reggae can become a universal sound."
The prolific lyricist is now in the creative process of compiling his new album Window to Your Soul in succession of his 2008 Africa album. He says he draws inspiration for the new project from, "Jamaican life: how we gwaan, how we dance, weh we talk bout and weh we wear; we lifestyle; how we party." When asked which songs would be featured on the album the singer spontaneously belts passionate lyrics from the love song, Bring You Roses, shortlisted to appear on the album. In addition he is in the process creating videos for singles for the album, including Bring back the Love to be released later on this year.
Fyah's focus is on building a catalogue of music that can be passed from one generation to the next. "Well I just want the people to know that this music is for a lifetime and I would want to say that everyone should get a collection of these songs because this type of music will last," he confidently articulated. To the younger artistes with hopes of acquiring the international success Lutan has secured for himself he advised, "First it take a great focus. Make your own music and work on an image. Just be yourself and make music in the rawest, original and pure form."
Fyah jokingly closed the interview with an ode to Jamaica's favourite son, " Aww mek me gi you like how Bob woulda put it: "Well the I jus want to thank the I dem for the love and support of Lutan Fyah music which provided the impetus to create music and keep creating a better song every time I sing. Give thanks"