Majek Fashek - Things Mystical, The Interview

Interview by AfricaSounds.com

 
   
The following feature is the most in-depth interview with Majek Fashek that has been published.  Majek Fashek is one of Reggae and Nigeria’s most unique and important artists.  We were with Majek at some of his first shows in the US, and we’ve been at some of his more recent concerts. He’s had fans come and go, but there is a circle of us who have always been there. We’ve stuck it out with Majek though the thick and the thin, times good and bad. The road has not been straight… indeed it has meandered, and it has, the truth be told, been a bit rocky. Yet Majek is still singing and still believing. We often find ourselves fascinated by Majek perception of the world around him. He sees things in a unique light. Here is a man who has convictions and strong beliefs.

We prefer to think of it the following way. On some days, the stars align themselves, and things click. We’ve seen this happen with Majek both onstage and off. We’ve seen some of the best moments in live music come from Majek.  The best are the moments we like to hold on to, the moments that burn into our memories.

The interview took place in Washington Square Park, New York.  The vibe was just right.  In our hands, we held the latest demo of yet unreleased songs for Majek's upcoming album.  We decided to begin our discussion by focusing on each of the five songs on that demo, one by one.  With Majek, you’ve got to know why he wrote the song, and what he was getting at. Sometimes, you have to push, dig deeper, to get the real meaning.

That day we found ourselves digging deep for the meaning of Majek's songs, philosophy and his view of the world around him.  Read on...

 

Majek Fashek sitting on the earth of Washington Square Park, New York - Photo by AfricaSounds

   

Majek Fasek - Recent Performance at SOBs Nightclub, New York - Photo by Bill Farrington

 
   
AfricaSounds: Hey Majek, thanks for spending time with us today. Let’s talk about this demo here, its brand new and it isn’t yet released. We’d like to give our readers a preview of what is to come from you.

Majek Fashek: I am working with some musicians over in California, my promotion company hooked them up with me, and we did some work. We arranged the music to get the right musicians for the right sound.

AfricaSounds: Let’s start with the first song, "Job Lamentation". Tell us about it…

Majek Fashek: I’m talking about Job, I dedicated that song to my late brother who was a Biafra soldier – you know he believed in God and things happened.  At the same time, I start to realize life in its redefinition. Referring to the song lyrics "We are not fighting against flesh and blood, but spiritual wickedness in high and low places." So what I am trying to say is that Job was the son of God in the Bible. Job heard everything. Man, he was tempted by the devil to give up Jah will…Job tried, you know…

Just like what has happened to me in my career – because before I had a very big contract with Interscope Records, you know what I am saying… things happen and I was on some spiritual experience. Things like that –  losing all the bucks, just like that… but still surviving!

Surviving and reflecting on the survival of man, and the message. So reflection of that has already passed us by. I don’t really think about it no more… that is why we are back on our new project. I had my last project that I did with Tuff Gong records (that produced the album "Rainmaker") but this new project is different, we are trying to handle this project ourselves. Because the American music industry is going nuclear…. Nuclear in the sense that you have independent labels now.

 
   

AfricaSounds: On these past projects, did you maintain control of the entire production?

Majek Fashek: No, it was controlled by the recoding industry. They would give me some leverage to produce music – I produced with Little Steve the album "Spirit of Love" with Interscope… but you know right now were are not talking about that type of money…

AfricaSounds: That could be said about the state of the recording industry in general. Things keep changing, there’s not much consistency with labels and people working within those labels, don’t you think?

Majek Fashek: Well, you can try to do better for yourself but you still need a house… you know, you can’t be sleeping on the street. There is a chain of command, like you know. I was in the house after Interscope with Tuff Gong Records, but now Tuff Gong has moved from New York, and its kind of affected the whole deal that we had. Like you were saying, every year there seems to be a change with these companies.

AfricaSounds: That’s part of what is hurting the efforts of so many musicians that we see, because a musician can work very hard to set up a relationship with a recording house and then the house is gone, or gobbled up, or the management changes.

   
Majek Fashek: So it is tough. But the life of a musician is good in the United States; the U.S. doesn’t give us any problems. Being in New York is good for a musician, as long as you don’t have your own problems and can stay focused. America is the best place to stay as a musician, I would never disregard that. You have more venues, you have promoters, you have agencies… it’s just for you to know how to hook up with these people, that is the challenge. To get the right contacts and hook up with the right people.

AfricaSounds: Were you able to say what you wanted to when you recorded and sang in Nigeria?

Majek Fashek: Yes. There was some oppression at one time, but the Nigerian government knew that I did not have bad intentions. I was not too intense like Fela Kuti, so I was able to get by with it. There was a little tension from time to time, like when I talked about the government… the military government… I talked about police brutality in Nigeria… so they didn’t really like that.

   
AfricaSounds: We notice on this demo that the second song is a Fela composition, actually one of our favorites, "Water No Get Enemy". Tell us about your choice to sing this song.

Majek Fashek: That is Fela music. I picked it because I have real passion for that song… It’s talking about water. The water you drink, that’s the same water, according to Fela, you use to wash a child. And when the child dies, you use the water to wash the child. And if you want to cook some food, you need water to cook it, you know what I am saying. Which means: Water, you cannot fight water. And that’s the power that has been given to me by the almighty God. People that try to fight me is like fighting water. Yeh, it’s like rain. But water is much protected, because water is a Deity of life, the liberty of man. And I am a water man because I am an Aquarius. A Pieces and an Aquarian so I am a very dangerous sign as it is our age, as we are controlling the universe now, being that it’s our age. Whether people like it our not. Sagittarians, they will have their own time. But we are in the Age of Aquarius, the gospel of our Lord and Savior of Jesus Christ.

AfricaSounds: Well that is very interesting! I am an Aquarius as well.

Majek Fashek: You are Aquarius too! That’s dangerous! Very interesting [Majek snaps his fingers] He’s a Cancerian [motioning to a friend]… Cancerians work very well with Aquarius. Cancerians can tolerate a crazy man! Aquarians and Sagittarians work well together. My drummer was a Sagittarian… in my first group, Jah Sticks in Nigeria… they called him Black Rice. He’s in Holland now, married to a girl over there. The group Jah Sticks, we recorded songs but they didn’t release the record. Well, that was a very long time ago, I played guitar and sang for them. Black Rice, that’s his name, Black Rice.

AfricaSounds: Majek, let’s talk about the third song on this demo, called "Man of Sorrow."

Majek Fashek: "Man of Sorrow," that’s my own composition. I am talking about one’s relationship with their child – my mother used to say "don’t tell a child what he will be tomorrow" – it’s like, you see that little kid [Majek motions across the park to a child strolling with his father in Washington Square Park]. You know, that could have been George Bush once, you see, you never know. So that’s the vision of man of sorrow. Sometimes you might get worries in life and it appears that everything is over, but if you believe in God, that he’s the creator, you never know what you might become… perhaps a Senator tomorrow – you – you can even become Chief of Staff! What I am saying is: What will be, will be, if Jah says so.

What we are talking about is the destiny of man. When we were young, little kids in Africa, we always dreamed about America, dreamed about wanting to come to America. You know, and here we are, right now, in America. So what will be, will be, if Jah says so. So it might take some time…there have been rumors about me, rumors such as drugs, but the problems that I went though was a phase of spiritualism. I encountered a lot of spirits in my life, but through the mercy of God, that’s why I’ve met you, and met others who have helped me along the way, like my lawyer, and together we were able to make things work. My old time friends.

We are taking our time to put everything in our right perspective; it will take time with our musical project. So man of sorrow is about the future of every human, don’t tell a child what he will be tomorrow. He might just become a president. That doesn’t stop him from attaining or achieving his destiny. You have to train your child, put him in school. The normal school of life, give the child a good education because the child must know how to relate to human beings. But from there, once the child is growing, he has to decide what to do with his own life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Majek Fashek on stage at SOBs Nightclub, New York, NY

Photo by Bill Farrington

AfricaSounds: That’s a very important message for this song. Tell us some more about this philosophy.

Majek Fashek: The advice that I can give people is for the person to discover his ability, the special quality that God has given to him. At the same time, one should always be in communication with the spiritual force which is God. Face God’s mission, and set for his goal. You must search and discover your own gifts; you know what I am saying. Your own personal thing that God has given you. That’s why we have engineers in this world, and doctors, you know. If you go to school and you want to study medicine, but if that is not your calling, you might go and spend three years and then your time is wasted, but if it is your calling, you will achieve your studies and get your Doctorate Degree. It’s all about the calling. I like America very well, but I do not stay in America for a long time if I am not working. That’s why I like to travel in and out of America every so often. To better appreciate it, because America embodies many, many people. Scientists and doctors. A doctor’s calling is to protect the people, teachers are to teach at the school such as that university over there [points across the park at NYU]. Yeh, different calling.

I am also talking about appreciating the United States. Like your calling is to help the artists and everything, you have your calling too. Like an architect or engineer, or even a builder, he can break down a house and build it… he’s a very dangerous man!

Many people who have callings in this world today do not stick to their calling. They want to be jack of all trades and master of nothing… results in stupidity. And they get nothing accomplished. Maybe they can have some money at that but money is not everything. They will not have fulfilled their goal. Eventually they will die and come back as a little kid again and start all over. It’s what we call reincarnation… circles of life. A never ending story. A never-ending circle. There will not be birth and rebirth, but I think that God has to come to do that, because as long as human beings are having sex, you know what I am saying, we are developing humans. So it will be difficult for the human race to be extinguished as it’s a continuous process.

   
AfricaSounds: And the fourth song on the demo, "Little Patience," we’ve heard you sing that one a lot live in concert…

Majek Fashek: "Little Patience"… I am talking about having faith in yourself and God, and the things you need to accomplish in life, if you have faith. Like my ambition today – I’ve made some press in America, I’ve made some impact. But I want to have a hit in America. It’s not a bad ambition. I want to have a hit in America and Europe. As long as I have not figured out my wish, I cannot give up. So keep plugging, have patience. But I need to have the right people to work with me, a good team, to make it a reality. Without a good team you can become destabilized. America has a structure - agency, recording company, promoter and publicist. They all need to pull their weight.

AfricaSounds: And the song "Josiah King of Kings" on the demo, tell us about that:

Majek Fashek: Well Josiah , if you read the Bible and the scripture, Josiah was a king of Israel, he was twelve years old when he had to rule Israel, so he was a great king. He was the one who said you should put off the idol worship – statue business. So I cannot really condemn Africa for idol worship because Christians do the same thing with Jesus. But the most high God does not want man to worship idol. [Majek stands up in the park] In the beginning God created man in his old likeness, in his image and in his likeness – Josiah was an early king in Israel, when he was ascended the throne of Israel, Josiah threw all the idols, scattered all the idols in Egypt – he see the flaming fire and everything.

So what I do, the way I communicate with God is through the ancestral spirit – when I was growing up in the village back in Benin I used to hang out and sit with my elders, you know what they do – they take strong rum, it is a drink and not an idol, it comes naturally from sugar cane (fermented sugar cane) so what they do is use this for prayer. See the earth here, they take some rum (and give it to the earth). You see the wind is blowing right now, from the east side, west side, east, west, north and south. And they say God, please help us. The earth is the Lord and the fullness there-of, and the word for he is founded upon the seas... should receive blessing of God Almighty, and who is the king of glory… [Majek starts a long prayer]

 
   

Majek Fashek live at SOBs Nightclub, New York, NY - Photo by Bill Farrington

 
   
AfricaSounds: Talk to us some more about this...

Majek:  The religion we practice as a prisoner of conscious is libation, there is no string attached. You are dealing with the chemistry of nature. It’s a little dangerous because one could become a drunkard, so some people do not like to do it. But if you can control it and use it directly, it is a stronger way to communicate with God, and by kneeling down like this here in the park, God is here now. You can ask "help me Lord, I need some help". I need to work to have my daily bread. In the mystic world, we say Jesus the Christ. A man that attained Christ consciousness. So Rastafari believe that Selassie attained Christ Consciousness in his kingly character.

You have to be able to maintain Christ consciousness, that is the difficult part. There are demons; we are dealing with some serious shit right now, some very serious things. And that is why right now it is difficult. Josiah, Selassie I, attained Christ Consciousness. Bob Marley obtained the Christ Consciousness, whether he liked it or not. It was after he died that many more started to listen to his message. Zachariah, Jeremiah, they were dealing with Christ Consciousness. Elijah was the toughest; he went through the chambers of fire. So I don’t worship idols, but I respect them. But in this age, man has to fulfill the prophecy. That’s what I am talking about.

Fela was an ancient ancestral spirit from Africa – Africa has their prophets too. In Africa, we have our own prophets. I was analyzing the African prophets, they were supposed to be an inspiration to direct us to God, but were not supposed to be deified. Like Shango was a prophet. Batala, Ogun, they were all prophets of God from Africa. God is giving you the authority as a man to communicate with him through the heavenly beings but you have to communicate in a way that you respect God.

Like Bob Marley was to the world, Fela was to Africa. Yet Fela worshiped Idols, that was why he was limited. That is why Bob Marley surpasses Fela. Because Fela in the face of every human being, he would bring out these images. Bob Marley stressed one God, that is why he was a hero of the world. Fela even called his club "Shrine", which was against the rules of God. Idol worship smells, if you go to a shrine, it kind of smells. I do not propose it to the people, God does not like it.

 

 
   
AfricaSounds: Very deep stuff, Majek. Talk a bit more about the mystical side of all of this…

Majek Fashek: In my experience as a mystic, I worship God like this: [Majek stands up again in the park] You see the doves; I can feel the air of God. I can see the trees, hear the wind. See the human beings…. That is God: Through nature, through the wind, through earth, and through the fire. Elements. All the things that people worship through. You can invoke them and communicate them and you are more powerful like that, but you don’t need to bow and all of that. You see, prisoner of consciousness.

You see these kids, only a baby can understand. You see the little kids in the park there [Majek motions over at children playing in the park, parents nearby supervising] they are free from evil. They don’t take no evil. They hear no evil, they see no evil. When they are hungry, they cry. In Africa, mother gives her breast; in America you give them bottle. They hear no evil, they see no evil. Everything is pure to them. That is the kingdom of God. Everything is pure to them.

We adults are already contaminated with the demons, but we are trying to free ourselves. Until you and I start to have that vibe, we cannot see the kingdom of God. To feel the kingdom of God is to be like a child with no want and no need. You hear no evil, speak no evil and you see no evil. Purity. Everlasting love. That is the kingdom we are talking about long-time. That is the kingdom of God.

 

Majek Fashek - Live at the New Africa Presents, The Lion's Den, New York, NY Photo by Salvatore Principato