Domestic Groove: RAS MUHAMAD

DOMESTIC GROOVE ~ Celeb’s Chosen Nine is my biweekly column in The Beat (Jakarta) mag. Basically it’s an interview via e-mail which focuses on small, intimate, domestic stuff; what Indonesia’s public figures are really into.

For the 28th edition I went upclose-and-personal with Ras Muhamad.

Singer, Songwriter

What music are you into at the moment?
As always, I look for the latest and current stuff in terms of reggae music. The album that’s in my playlist for quite some time now is Sara Lugo’s What about Love. She’s a reggae artist from Munich, Germany, that brings quite a breath of fresh air to the culture. Her album is a must-listen-to where she combines many styles from soul, jazz & traditional ska. On the other hand, Stephen Marley’s Revelation & Bob Marley has been on my daily playlist.

What was the first record you bought—any interesting story behind it?
Haha, what’s interesting is that one of the first records I bought besides Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet was Nirvana’s Nevermind. My cousin and I chipped in for the album based on the album cover alone. A naked baby in a swimming pool reaching for a dollar bill, well, we know how this album went and yes, I do have an ear for rock music. Have to keep my senses open, hehehe.

What are your all-time favorite albums? Why?
Hmmm, I focus a lot on lyrics and wordplay. So I look up to many hip hop emcees such as KRS-One and Rakim. But my favorite albums of all time is Wu-Tang’s 36th Chamber, Nas’ Illmatic, Augustus Pablo’s King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown, Bob Marley’s Natty Dread and Survival.

No question Wu-tang’s 36th Chamber and Nas’ Illmatic are emcees at the top of their lyrical game. During the time these 2 albums dropped, I just recently arrived in NYC circa ’93-’94, so it was the hottest thing on the streets & almost every teen listened to it, so it drew me. Other than for nostalgic reasons, RZA’s productions on the Wu’s 36th is just mind-boggling & unorthodox, the album changed how the music industry viewed independent music today.

Now, another monumental album is Augustus Pablo’s King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown one of the first truly DUB REGGAE album released in the mid-70′s. The production of Tubby’s still fascinates me to this day, “How can you create those sounds during that time?” Pure genius!!!

The album Survival is Bob Marley at his best as a lyricist & a philosopher. Here, he conveys many of his Rastafari views & ideologies. This album marks him as not just a mere entertainer and musician but a visionary & social thinker. The last is Natty Dread, it was the first album that made me fall in love with reggae more and push me to explore the genre & culture.

What was the worst record you ever purchased?
Hmm, believe it or not Ras Muhamad bought a Lil Wayne album. It was his 1999′s Tha Block is Hot and such terrible album it was. I bought it second-hand in NYC for less than $ 5 but I tried to re-sell it and couldn’t get more than 25 cents for it. Hahaha.

Who do you want to be, other than yourself, next time you reincarnate?
it’s kind of difficult to think of who do I want to be reincarnated as if that person is born in the future instead of the past. Surely, I’d love to be reincarnated as a reggae artist born in Jamaica

What book are you reading now and what’s the score (1-10)? Borrow or buy?
“Pram Melawan!” It’s a collection of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s interview post-Soeharto era. I give this book a 10 since you really get a feeling of what Bung Pram’s personality is really about. A person that love his nation, literature, culture & full of ideas. I love also his sometime sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek comments about many social issues. Some do come off a bit harsh but hey, that’s Bung Pram.

What new movie should people see? Why?
Haven’t really seen a new movie lately that I can recommend, most recent is “Real Steel”… it’s O.K. it’s reminiscent of Sly Stone’s “Over the Top” movie about arm-wrestling and father-son relationship. “Real Steel” is exactly that… “an estranged father winning the affection of his son” except with robotics ala “Blade Runner”.

What song do you choose to start your weekend?
Haha, any reggae song. …Hmmm maybe LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” haha just kidding.ABut hmmm even though it is a guilty pleasure. …shhhh don’t tell anyone!

And song/album you choose to end your weekend

After releasing a free downloaded song in collaboration with Glenn Fredly, the self-proclaimed Reggae Ambassador is quite busy playing in clubs around town and also writing new songs for the next album.


*This interview was firstly published on The Beat (Jakarta) #52, Nov 28 – Dec 11, 2011


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