"I'm not usually a fan of remixes but I had multiple versions of the song 'Growing Pains'… so I always knew some sort of remix project for the album could manifest," explains Steez.
"After the album was out, Zitro reached out, to me, to remix 'Yard Nigga Rap' and I liked what he sent back. From there, I put the word out that I was doing a free remix EP. Over a few months, I got dozens of remixes, some from producers already on the album and others from those who never had the chance to make it. I ended up choosing the best remixes that gave the tracks a different but natural feel. New beats, same boom-bap."
Sitting as one of the yardie-rap visionaries, Steez' album was hailed as "not just another socially conscious rant packaged as a rap compilation, but it serves as a manifesto, a philosophy that runs throughout the album, even when the material turns far more personal," with much more blogs and local and international journalists echoing the same sentiments.
"This is real music to help people in the struggle find peace," Five Steez was easily quip once asked about his album. "It is new millennium boom-bap; Hip Hop with soulful production, heavily themed with a lot of commentary, storytelling, introspection and raw lyricism on display."
In a recent interview with the artiste, Jamaicansmusic.com got the chance to explore Steez' mind in a way not often displayed in a typical interview. Here's an excerpt of the Q&A that took place:
JAmusic: Since the release of your debut album, War for Peace, how have local media persons and average listeners reacted to the local musical landscape and your sound/songs in particular?
Five Steez: My album has gotten some good reviews from the Gleaner's Youthlink as well as Backayard Magazine, which is probably the most reputable print publication dedicated to local music. Local online media has been even more receptive and supportive. While there hasn't been any widespread media coverage or exposure, I can't complain. In terms of average listeners, I definitely have a wider audience now, including persons who are not really "Hip Hop heads" but they appreciate the music and content. I'm not sure if everyone "gets it" completely but they definitely seem to be rocking with it and certain songs in particular such as "Slaving on the Plantation" are connecting with people on a real level. Generally, the people aren't as resistant to the music as certain industry gatekeepers.
JAmusic: Are you more interested in making Five Steez a 'Jamaican Hip Hop household name' or your thoughts are more on a global scale with hopes of your birthplace appreciating your work?
Five Steez: With music, like any other business, you have to know your audience and market to that audience. I'm definitely thinking globally and hoping that the local audience eventually comes around. The word has yet to spread throughout the global Hip Hop community about the existence of a movement here and since there is already so much resistance to what we're doing, I think it is unlikely that attempting to be a "Jamaican Hip Hop household name" will be successful for now and it won't necessarily translate into a global Hip Hop audience because they're not even looking over here for that. At the moment, the global Hip Hop community isn't even checking for anything current in Jamaica that much. I think the focus will return to Jamaica very soon as more and more over the past months, you are hearing the Jamaican influence in Hip Hop music. From the Olympics last year to Snoop Lion to the recent controversial VW and Saturn advertisements, popular culture, particularly in America, is looking to Jamaica more than they were two years ago.
JAmusic: Some believe that to be a crossover success it's important to have Jamaica as a base, do you hold that belief?
Five Steez: It is not necessarily true but I do want Kingston, Jamaica to be my base and for that to be recognized by everyone locally and globally. I'm repping Kingston Hip Hop.
One of the few Jamaican artistes to have a gold-certified single in recent times is a friend of mine that goes by the name of Mike Beatz, who had a successful run in the UK as part of a duo called Wizard Sleeve. Aside from a few write-ups that he has gotten in local newspapers, Jamaica doesn't even know about this. To me, that's a perfect example of crossover success by a Jamaican without Jamaica as the base.
In reality, being Jamaican or being in Jamaica doesn't really lend credibility to anyone doing Hip Hop since the global community doesn't know this is happening here and when they hear about a Jamaican artiste, they naturally assume Dancehall or Reggae since that is all that has marketed from us. What I've found, however, is that when they hear the music first, they're sold… and when they fully realize that you're Jamaican, you get even more respect because not only do they respect Jamaica as a nation for various reasons, but they respect the fact that they hear me or us upholding the essence of an artform and culture that they would assume we know nothing about and have no idea how to do as well as they do.
1. Yard Nigga Rap (Zitro Remix)
2. Rebel Music (The Quarter Inch Kings Remix)
3. Slaving on the Plantation (Theory Remix)
4. Growing Pains f/ Shaq the MC (Inztinkz Remix)
5. Crown Me King (DJ MTM Remix)
6. I Am f/ Kabaka Pyramid (DavidEnco Remix)