U Roy, the Originator

In the Reggae world, if there was a Rub-a-Dub Army, U Roy would surely be General …

The »Godfather« of Deejays (that’s the way he’s called by other Deejays) has just released a new album called »Old School / New Rules« and is now touring it all over Europe and mainly in France. We met him in Paris after his huge show at mythical hall »Elysée-Montmartre« and he accepted to answer some of our questions.


How and when did you come to music? How did you start singin‘, toastin‘?

I started doin‘ this when I was very young, like at the age of ten, eleven. I’ve been in my bathroom singin‘ and makin‘ a lot of noise … and my grandmother used to say »Shut up and stop doin‘ all this noise!« When you love something, just like when a man loves a woman, he follows her to the ends of the earth … so that’s the same for music … I go to the ends of the earth and I take my music with me and I started very young as a kid and today I’m very happy about what happened from there because I had no idea that I would be here today doing this and talking to young people like you about this … So it’s really a great honour and a blessing the Most High has given to me and so I plan to take a big care of it and treat it the best way.

You are often called »The Originator« … Are you really the inventor of Deejay style? I’ve read something about Count Machuki and you speak bout him on one of your last tunes called »DJ Phonics« but I’ve never heard his music …

Yeah man I used to love Count Machuki and he was before me, he was playing sound system before me but the thing is: Nobody ever put any music on a record before me … So in terms of going into the studio and take the mic and say something, I am the man who did that … So I’m responsible for that …

Lots of people say that you are also the one who inspired the first rappers in the United States, so you are the father of rap and HipHop Music … What do you think of this?

You know what, when I started doin‘ this I had never heard about rappers, the only rappers that I had heard about were those people who rap things in the stores … But in terms of on the mic I’ve never heard about these people ya see (He laughs). So, if somebody wants to give me some respect for that, I thank them, if they don’t want to do it, it’s no problem because if something is for you, no matter what happens and no matter how you would get it …You will get what is for you …You see what I mean …?Ya man, it’s true … It’s how you survive and how you go to earth …

Deejayin‘ History

On your album »Serious Times« there’s a short interview in which you say that in the 70’s the people and the DJs themselves didn’t expect their tunes to become radio hits. I’ve also read that in the early 7O’s in Jamaica the radio stations refused to play DJ Music just to give singers a chance … So we can say that the success of DJs was really born from the underground scene?

It’s like Reggae Music in America. They didn’t want Reggae Music to get established in America because they’re so many singers and rappers but what is to be will always be … no matter what you try to avoid it … Look, if you are to reach the top, no matter what somebody tries … you still gonna reach the top … Trust me because that was your goal man …

Around 1967 you started working with King Tubby. He is the Dub inventor, the first one who had the idea to drop out the vocal track and remix the rhythm tracks to create new versions which enabled the DJs to improvise their toasts … (The DJ-Style developed from your association). So do you think that you would have had such a DJ-Career if you hadn’t met or worked with Tubby?

Well, who knows what would have happened? Maybe if it hadn’t been Tubby’s, it would have been somebody else … That’s how it is …

Ok, so it means that you already toasted upon some tunes before meeting Tubby?

Yeah but not really professionally … it was only in the streets ya know … When I started working with Tubby, I got connected with Duke Reid and that’s how I started growing …

New Album

Your new album is very nice, it’s on Ariwa Sounds and produced by Mad Professor. It is not your first collaboration with Mad Professor? How is it to work with him because I’ve heard that …

Yeah but that’s good. If you want something and you know what you want, it means that you’re a perfectionist and you really know what you want. So you won’t come out of the studio unless you get what you want. It’s like when I was recording with Duke Reid. Whenever Duke Reid told you Ok, »this is good!«, don’t worry, that’s good … You learn from that to be a perfectionist and learn to be positive and stuff like that. I have really good vibes with Mad Professor, it’s OK …

The title of your new album is Old School / New Rules and there’s also a tune called Old School Music in which you speak to the young generation … How do you feel the gap between »old school music« and the new Deejays‘ style?

Well the new Deejays they are young … so they have to have their young style. I don’t want no problem with that because to me we all are good workers but they are young and I am old but this is no problem … The thing is the most high tell you he will call upon the youths because the youths are very strong. So I must accept that if I’m a man who gives praises to the most high ya see … I have to appreciate all youths because I have youths myself and I was a youth …

King Stur-Gav Sound System

You still have your own Sound System King Stur-Gav?

I will always have my sound system because that’s where I am comin‘ from and you must never ever forget where you are comin‘ from. And I will always believe in the Ghetto, that’s how the people want to call it »the ghetto«, because that’s where I’m from and I don’t plan to move …

Ok, but do you still perform or even tour with King Stur-Gav?

Yes man, right now I’m supposed to go to London in May, in New York sometimes in March, you know … pretty acting … it’s a blessing, I tell you …

Do you have some new artists on it?

I have new selectas, like a guy named Future and another named Citadin and they do it pretty good, they know what they do and that’s good …

I’ve read that this sound had been broken up during the turbulent 1980 Jamaican election and then rebuilt with new DJs … What happened exactly?

Yes, in 1980 my Sound was mashed up and taken away by some Jung list because it’s just politics ya know … but I just tell you … what is yours will always be yours.

What do you expect for the Deejays‘ Style in the future?

All the best man, I would just like to hear more positive Deejays every day because you can’t start the Deejays again, they are everywhere around the world right now … everywhere you find Deejays so we nah go start the thing again … Don’t even think about that … I would just love them to keep the thing positive, keep the music flowing and all the people happy …

You have 10 children. Are some of them playing music?

No, I was the only one in the music … but they are big people now and they do their own thing … Some of them have their own business and that’s good …