Archive for the ‘maxi priest’ Tag

My TVJ interview   4 comments

I was extremely pleased to be able to chat about my life and times in Japan, on Smile Jamaica, one of the island’s biggest morning shows! Click on the picture to watch the video!

JIJA: Yush 2010   Leave a comment

Yush 2010 was mad! Held at the National Stadium, the music was fast and furious. Looking forward to 2011!


 

 

 

 

 

JIJ: Akiko Moriyako Photo Shoot mini-documentary   1 comment

Akiko is a talented Japanese artist I met through my travels here in Japan. A few months ago I went to the photo shoot and shot some pictures and video. This is what I produced as I followed her around during the photo shoot for “The Vibes”, her debut album to be released by Domo Records of the U.S.A.

あきこもりやこさんはじょうずのアーチストです。去年に合いました。二三月前に、もりやこさんの写真イベントえ行きました。このビデオは作りました。もりこさんのアルバームのなまえは、”The Vibes”です、ドーモーレーコードから。見てください!お願いします。

Akiko Moriyako Photoshoot   1 comment

Akiko Moriyako is a Japanese musician who plays reggae and Jazz-inspired music. I met her last year when I was on the Maxi Priest Billboard Live tour, and maintain a good relationship with her. She came to Tokyo to do a photo shoot for her album release later this year, and invited me to take a few snap shots of my own. These are a few of the photos.

Marcus Bird Design on Kanye West’s Blog. カニェウェトのブログ^います。   Leave a comment

My cousin is performing artiste Beniton the Menace, and in 2008, I designed an album-style image for him on a whim. I had no idea that this would be the most profilic image of him on the internet. In fact, if you google “Beniton the Menace” n google images, its this picture that comes up first; an image I created while on vacation in New York. He told me that the image had surfaced on Kanye West`s blog because of a new single he and crooner Marvin Priest (Maxi Priest’s son) had made called “Who’s Gonna Smoke”. The song has received good airplay and got Beniton a featured in Fader Magazine online. The link to the image on Kanye’s blog is below. You can download the single for free here:

http://www.kanyeuniversecity.com/blog/index.php?em3106=242059_0__0_~0_-1_10_2009__

Jamaican in Japan Episode 3   Leave a comment

Episode Three finds me in Osaka with the guys. Couldnt’ go back home just yet :p

Jamaican in Japan Episode Two : Part Two   Leave a comment

Day two of the tour with Maxi Priest. Red light district, and freestyling ensue.

Jamaican in Japan Episode Two   Leave a comment

I go on tour with Maxi Priest, Marvin Priest, Beniton the Menace and the band from Tokyo to Osaka. Clubs, high-rise hotels and cute chicks are the order of the day. This episode is part on of two in Tokyo with shots of Maxi and the crew performing at Billboard live, and me & the boys partying in the red light district in Shinjuku.

On Tour with Maxi Priest, Part One   1 comment

I first saw Maxi Priest at a celebrity football match in the late nineties. I was in the stands with my parents, on a overcast summer day. I had laughed at the clumsy way the artistes played football, with the crowd roaring each time Beenie man received a pass, or Spragga Benz took a horrible shot at goal. Maxi, like the other artistes, was having fun. In the distance I could see his trademark locks, swaying about like snakes.

In the distance, I saw his trademark locks flashing to and fro like black snakes. As the artistes (Mad Cobra and Spragga Benz were also playing) passed the ball to each other, I laughed at their clumsiness. Maxi got a pass or two, flashing his trademark smile if he was tackled. Something about him glowed like an ember. This, I thought, is star power.

In Tokyo in Augst 2009, I see him again for the second time. I`m walking behind my cousin, performing artiste Karl Zanders, whose stage name is Beniton The Menace. Everyone calls him Benny. A white bus with the Billboard Live in conservative print across its breadth sits idly outside the KOEI Plaza Hotel, in Shinjuku . We are the last to arrive.
“This is my cousin.” Benny starts.
Maxi interrupts him.
“You didn`t have to tell me anything big man!” he says with a laugh.
“From I see the `John Wayne` walk, I know is must your family that!”
I laugh, and so does the rest of the bus. Maxi looks exactly like how i`ve remembered him, a little under average height, his locks streaming from a khaki coloured hat.

The first thing I sense about him is a powerful energy. Some stars are notoriously moody, boring or eloquent. Some look at people they don`t know with disquieted eyes, and others are so gregarious their managers need to monitor people for them. Maxi had a laugh that came from the recesses of his soul. It was pure and exultant, filled with the confidence of a man who`s been doing what he wants to for the majority of his life.
“Yow, check them boots here.” He says to Marvin, his son. “Nice eeh?” He is wearing a pair of black designer boots with a thick white sole. I glance at Marvin. He looks like his father in complexion and height, but has less of the boyish features Maxi still possesses in his late forties. Marvin has quiet eyes, a firm jaw and a slightly muscular build. Once he speaks, I feel the Priest energy flow from him as well, as pure as rain. “Bless.” He says, giving me a firm handshake.

The bus rolls off and Tokyo flies by as the band members chat about a common topic when groups of Jamaicans meet: The state of Jamaican as it relates to violence. I sit and listen to opinions flow back and forth, laughing to myself that even in Tokyo, certain things never change.

At the Billboard event hall, we are greeted by courteous staff who usher us to the artist’s room. It is small but clean, and the band starts to laugh about a joke. Phanso, the drummer on duty for the tour, is chided for saying he will take a week to eat an entire gallon of ice cream. I observe the people in the group. There are mostly band members but a few people like myself tagging along for the ride. One of them who left an impression on me was Akico. She was sitting quietly at the table as conversation roared in Jamaican patois. Her face was strikingly beautiful, and she embodied the term “ageless”. Apparently she had been touring with the band for ten years, which made it even harder for me to discern her age. “I sometimes play piano for the band.” She says with a sly smile. That`s all she told me about her time with the band.

I meet the rest of the band in stages. There`s Steve, the outspoken road manager who keeps everyone tickled with an endless stream of jokes. Taddy is the bassist, tall with thick locks and a quiet demeanour. Goofy is the pianist, nicknamed so for being a constant joker. The first show goes smoothly, and I am impressed by Maxi`s singing ability. I had never seen him perform live, and his stage presence was remarkable. The crowd was a tad shy and conservative, but soon they were standing up and singing along. “Domo arigato gozaimashita!” Maxi says in a perfect Japanese accent, creating a cascade of “oohs” through the crowd. To me, the show flows seamlessly, with Maxi hitting the high notes, all the songs end on cue and they don`t go a minute overtime.
During lunch, Maxi gives instructions to tweak some instruments. “I don’t need the guitar drowning out my voice, do you know?” he says to Steve, while sipping a bottle of water. “It`s like I can`t hear myself speak and I have to bring it up too much.”
His voice has dropped into his English inflection from his London roots, connoting a seriousness I hadn`t felt before.

Then, a large woman in an African print outfit with a small entourage enters the room. She speaks with casual Jamaican aplomb, and chats to Maxi for a few minutes with him before taking pictures. Behind her, a few men with locks and sharp smile and listen to the conversation. Maxi evolves into his Jamaican self, laughing it up for a few minutes with his fans. He smiles, chit-chats and watches them leave. After the door is closed to the artist room he turns to Steve. “Steve, people can`t come in here like that when the band is eating. Let`s not make it happen again.” His voice has that English lilt again; the boss voice.

After the final show two girls have followed us back to the hotel, Americans traveling through Asia. They have an early flight in the morning, and thought partying it up with the band would be a good sendoff. In the hotel room, one looks up a youtube video on my laptop while the other sips a beer. They look a little antsy, because no one is really moving. Benny is doing something down the hall, and I’m trying to find out what to do in this area. They head to Marvin`s room, and soon we are headed out into the nighttime life of Shinjuku.

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Benny is a notoriously savvy self-promoter. Every band practice was broadcasted live through his laptop. Within minutes of taking pictures with fans, or being snapped on stage by a photographer, he would post the pictures to twitter. His laptop was as much of a fixture as his trademarked hair styles.
“I call this style the Illusion.” He said to me the next day. “From a distance you think you know what it is, but as you get closer it changes.” The hairstyle is interesting. He has the slightest beginnings of a mohawk, with shaved blade-like patterns encircling his head leaving two small tufts of hair at the back which resemble miniature ponytails. He is a workhorse, doing the Maxi tours as well as his own production work and shows through the states.  He and Marvin get along pretty well, as they are close in age and mindsets. “Marvin!” Benny barks while looking at something on his laptop. Marvin enters the room with the casual swagger of a star. He is wearing a hotel bathrobe and black rubber sandals. “This is Serani on Good morning New York.” We watch the audio as Serani, a popular new Jamaican dancehall artiste sings “No Games”, his hit song from 2008, in a scratchy, cracking voice. Benny smiles and looks at Marvin.”Can you believe ten million people watched that?”

Maxi Priest is one of the most reknown reggae artistes in the world, but if he`s profited heavily from it, it isn`t immediately apparent. His style casual, with baggy designer jeans, relaxed dress shirts and a variety of caps. Whenever I see him he is smiling and laughing so hard he makes a cackling noise. I could see that the people that followed him weren’t necessarily sponging. He had fame and access, and with this came certain perks which I would soon see firsthand.
“You do photography right?” he said to me backstage on the last day in Tokyo. I nodded. I had become the unofficially official photographer of the tour. “I`m trying to remember the name of a camera… it starts with A.” he said.
“A?” I replied. “I’ll need a little more than that to work with.”
“Okay. It’s black with a red dot on the front.” Maxi replied.
I smiled. For about thirty minutes, Marvin and I try to find the camera he`s talking about. Eventually I find it. It’s a Leica. “Well it ends in A!” Maxi says with a smile. This entire time he has been on his cellphone, chatting to someone.  I`m in the back room, and a well dressed man of middle eastern descent in his forties is sitting beside a young Japanese man. He nods to the young man, who writes down the model number and the name as I recite it from my laptop. They soon leave the room, shaking hands with Maxi.
“That camera was on the UB40 tour I did in Australia a few years back.” He says to me with a bright smile. “It took gorgeous pictures man, beautiful. Those pictures from that camera ended up in the booklet of the tour.” I didn’t need a phd from Harvard to know that he was probably getting that camera for free.

On the second night, a fan gave us access to a party she was hosting in Roppongi. We went in four cabs to the party district. Inside, we received glasses of champagne and a hearty welcome from the hosts. It was a small place called Club Odeon, and it was a Pink Party night. Soon, a pole dancer would thrill the crowd with her heroics, as she suspended her body in difficult positions. Maxi and entourage enjoyed the event reasonably well, drinking champagne and chatting to fans. Then, Benny took the mike and the entire party changed.

He started Hellrazor Sounds systems several years ago, when he did parties and events part-time. Before deciding to go full time on his musical career, this was his calling. TheDJ. “My friends always used to wonder why I wasn’t doing music.” He said to me in the hotel before we went to the club. “These were some hard guys too, drug dealers, gangsters, but they didn’t want that for me. When I started doing the sound thing, guys that had been doing it even longer than me gave me this look like “he knows what he’s doing. ”

The crowd was spellbound as he coordinated some mixes with a Japanese DJ, and brought the house down. The club went from a casual party to a frenzy of dancing and cheering. After ten minutes or so, Benny left the microphone, prompting many to ask him to go back. At some point Maxi slipped out of the club back to the hotel, while the other band members partied a little longer.

The next day, after the last Tokyo show ended, I saw Maxi in the dressing room. He was wiping  his face with a dark brown hand towel. I told him it had been a pleasure meeting him, and seeing him in action. He paused for a second and said, “You not coming with us to Osaka?” I smiled and said I might go, but in that moment, my decision had already been made. Later that day, I bought my train ticket to Osaka.