A Confluence Of Cultures: UbuntuFM interviews Maikal X

Maikal X (Image by Dynamic Motion Pictures)

UbuntuFM reaches out to Maikal X to discuss his new single, 'One In Ten'.  

It's nice to have you here on UbuntuFM. How's the going?

It's nice to hear my music being played on UbuntuFM for the world to hear.
Blessed.

Maikal X ... it sorts of comes out sounding close to Malcolm X. Are there some relations or philosophical attachments to both names?

Well, my government name is Michael. I just decided to spell it differently. The letter X stands for me being who I am.

Growing up as an artist, people used to always tell me I had to pick a style, music-wise.
This is because some people know me as a hip-hop artist. I grew up doing Rap music,
did some Funk and Jazz music on the side, and then graduated on to Reggae.
So the X basically stands for me being me, just like Malcolm put X behind his name because he did not want to use his slave name.

I refuse to be put in one category.

You're from the Caribbean islands, right? How's the musical journey been from the Caribbean to the Netherlands? We're thinking of something of an Odyssey that makes for an epic narration so far, if you get the drift.

My parents are both from the Caribbean but from different countries. My father is from Guyana, an old British Colony, and my mother is from an island called Curacao which is an old Dutch colony. Most of my family on my father’s side are in the UK.  As a youth, we used to travel a lot from Holland to England. 

As a kid, I use to see a lot of sound systems playing music while I was in the UK, a different culture from say Holland where I lived. My dad fed me music from an early age; a lot of Reggae and Jazz. My mother, on the other hand, fed me with a lot of Latin music and traditional Curacao music which has a lot of African influences. And of course growing up in Europe you cannot escape the popular music on the Radio and TV. Because we were all separated in the course of the slave trade, we all grew up with different languages. So Brazil has their traditional music just like Suriname has, just like Curacao has, just like Jamaica and all others have, all with the same root – Africa.

Over the years the music evolved. So like how Suriname has music styles like Kaseko and Kawina, Curacao has Tambu and Seu – both very traditional. And then there's Ritmo Combina, another Curacao music style, which you can compare to say Salsa. It doesn't resonate on a worldwide level yet because the styles are very domestic but give it some years and you might just hear a big Pop artist take some elements out of those styles I just mentioned.

How does the age of digitization affect the music industry in Suriname?

It affects the world. The music business now is completely different.
There are more chances now for artists being heard across the globe, just like how we are talking now. This interview would be harder to accomplish twenty years ago. Look at African music: digitization made African music more popular across the world, whereas twenty years ago all African music was categorized as World Music. Now people are starting to learn more about different styles within African Music. Digitization made the world a smaller place and artists now can make themselves be heard.

There have been collaborations between Jamaican and African artists. We've seen, for instance, Sean Paul collaborating with Timaya of Nigeria, and very recently, Stonebwoy of Ghana. Do you think there's a similar musical meeting-point between Suriname and the various African musical
cultures?

Oh yeah, the Diaspora kids are reaching out to the African brothers all across the continent and vice versa. We need to bridge the gap even more. My son is half Eritrean half Guyanese/Curacao that goes to show you.

Looking back the way you have come along your musical course, would there be anything you'd do differently?

No, because I started in a time when the music business was not what it is today.
It was a lot harder. But I wouldn't want to miss that era because I learned a great deal.
 
I applaud the digital age today but I'm also glad I witnessed the time before digital … analogue days.

Aside from promoting 'One In Ten', do you have any other projects, releases or activities lined up for the present? Something your audience should look forward to?

More music will come your way soon. My plan is first to release some more singles individually and then work my way to an EP/Album.

Before calling it a wrap, do you have a word in parting for our listeners and audience on UbuntuFM?

Big up! the whole continent of Africa. Africa is the future!!! The Diaspora kids are coming home.

It's a pleasure having this moment with you. Our best wishes are with you as much as the hope we have in expectation of more from you.

Give thanks UbuntuFM. The pleasure was all mine. Thank you for playing my music and bridging the gap between the continent and the Diaspora. Blessed Love

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