“I want to be iconic. I want to make an impact. I love music; I love creating. I also love to help other artists. So in ten years, I want to be iconic.”
Jamaica, the Land of wood and water, is the birthplace of Reggae music. From Kingston to Montego Bay, from Waterford to Cassava Piece – many talented musicians call the shores of Jamaica their backyard and the sands of its beaches their stomping ground. Growing up in Keystone, Jamaica, André Ruddock aka Dreggae learned the importance of hard work as a student of Wolmer’s Boys, a high school located in Kingston, Jamaica. From an early age, Dreggae understood that pursuing formal education was an activity he would have to do in an effort to pursue his ultimate dream. However, that dream would not be complete without the pursuit of his musical happiness.
Dreggae started his musical career in 2002 teaming up with fellow artist and former Wolmer’s classmate, Peezy, to form T.E.F.L.O.N, which saw an innovative blend of Reggae and Hip Hop. Ultimately, the group parted ways as Peezy attended law school. I can safely say that none of us know what our future holds; although it was never in Dreggae’s plan to transition into a solo artist, so far the solo career is working in his favour. When faced with unexpected changes to your plans, all you can really do is believe that you are destined for greatness and be humbled when those moments surface in your life. Dubbed the Unsigned Legend by his fans, I recently sat down with Dreggae to find out how his solo career has been thus far. He let me in on some details about his past projects and I got inside scoop on what his fans can look forward to hearing from him in 2014…
Terri K: One of the original concepts behind TEFLON was to create an innovative blend of Reggae and Hip Hop. Who are some of your favourite or influential Reggae and/or Hip Hop artists?
Dreggae: Damien Marley. Khaos, in Canada. I like Assassin, still. The Fugees. Mos Def. All of them blend Reggae in their music.
TK: As an artist, what does music mean to you?
D: Life is your story, music is your soundtrack. I want to say music is life, but that would sound cliché [laughs], it’s the truth though. When you think about it, a lot of people’s memories in life are tied to music. We use music to stamp some time in our lives.
TK: What moment stands out in your mind as the one where you knew this was for you?
D: I did this song called “My Girl”; I was like sixteen [laughs]. ‘My girl is like a dream to me, love is what it seem to be’. One of my best friends at the time, Rachel, heard the song and she cried. Seeing her reaction, I was like ‘wow’. It had such an impact on her; she encouraged me and supported me from then.
Irene was born and raised in Orange Hill where the music is louder and the people are calm. Knowing her means no worries. Drop the top, let the Bob Marley play, and enjoy the ride with Irene to Montego Bay. Production Credit: RepJA Clothing (RepJA Riddim)
TK: Your Grand Uncle is King Tubby. How has he influenced your music career?
D: He influenced the turn that I made in my career. Digital Tubby, his nephew, used to call me to basically give me a history lesson and everything that he said revolved around doing what you love to do…. being so good at what you love, that you can influence others. He [Digital Tubby] sent me a lot of Tubby’s stuff and I made the connection after listening to Tubby’s music, that I listen to a lot of Rockers music. Getting to know his music [King Tubby] more changed my flow of music, so now I am doing more old school reggae and staying true to my roots.
TK: In 2011, you competed in a reality talent series entitled ‘Before The Fame’ that was to air on the CW network. However, the show was cancelled. Seeing Tessanne Chin win the Voice recently, do you look back at your opportunity on Behind The Fame and wonder “what if?” What lessons did you take away from that experience?
D: Not necessarily. I think I got everything that I was supposed to get from that experience. To be honest, I never really liked performing; I like to create music. From Before The Fame, I learned a lot about stage presence from Empress Fyah who was the stagecoach. That experience allowed me to grow a lot and for what it is worth, I’m happy with the outcome.
TK: You released the Unsigned Legend LP in 2011. What was the motivation for that project? What were some of your favourite records off the project and their inspirations?
D: The project started with a bunch of voicemails, people really wanted to know ‘wah gwan’ since going solo. At the time TEFLON really did have a following; it was always an online movement, a reggaelution. Although our music never hit mainstream, people did take away something from it. “Remember Me” is one of my favourites that came about one morning when I woke up and just felt motivated. I did a song with my ‘madda’ “Good Night” and in ever verse I was talking about a real situation that happened in my life. I like “My Technique” and “Never Give Up”, as well.
Summer leads to love at first flight. New found love lands in Jamaica, where Dré decides to play by his heart and not the rules. This is not your average roller coaster, enjoy the ride through Negril! Production Credit: Kritikal (Jamaica)
TK: Recently you announced on Facebook, that Jukebox Jubie is your latest project being released this Spring. Share with us the inspiration for this project? What can your fans expect from this project?
D: I lived in Spanish Town, Keystone and every summer I used to go to Santa Cruz to visit my grandfather. He used to have this bar called Browns Cozy Corner, it had this big jukebox and I used to sit around it and play a whole bunch of oldies. The people at the bar would be dancing and big me up and ‘tings [laughs]. So Jukebox Jubie is basically the riddims from that era. The songs that were in the jukebox I redid some of them. I’m bringing back old and mixing it with a little bit of the new. I’m talking about things of today with that old school sound. It’s back to the roots, kind of ‘ting.
With his latest mixtape, Lights Low released in 2013, presented by Shane Talon of BlackTalons357 [http://thecocomagazine.com/beats/the-pace-on-coco-%E2%80%93-shane-talon], Dreggae has been hard at work promoting three official music videos and eight singles. House Call [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bus7d8wRZ5w] is the latest music video released by Dreggae in which he and Bahamian singer/songwriter, Jewel Melissa [https://twitter.com/JewelMelissa], recount a relationship that is coming to an end and the woman has decided to stop wasting her energy with the old guy and make a ‘house call’ to a new one. After listening to ‘House Call’ one can understand why Single Life [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cVnDcIdQr4] by Dreggae & Jason Lyric may have preceded the former as far as release dates are concerned. If you are single and you know it, you probably made a house call which lead to your current single status.
It took me a few minutes back in 2011 to recognize that there was something quite special and intriguing about Dreggae. And yes ladies, brownie points were given for his handsome looks. To conclude the interview I had to ask Dreggae if there were any COCO women in his life and if any of those women are considered to be a ‘special lady friend’.
TK: We define a COCO Woman as a woman who embraces herself, her unique beauty and is not afraid to show the world her true self. Does Dreggae have a COCO woman in his life? Would she be considered a potential ‘love connection’?
D: Of course, definitely. I have a lot of women in my life that have those attributes who are very supportive of me such as my mother, my sister, and yourself, Terri K, to name a few. I believe that those specific attributes as well as the supportive nature of a COCO woman are very essential characteristics that aid in the success of a person(s). And to answer your other question, [laughs] right now, I’m married to the music.