Mighty Mystic on Forthcoming Project and Unifying Reggae Artists
This week’s Rising Artist of the Week, Mighty Mystic, wants to unify reggae artists. “I want to see the big U.S. bands touring with Jamaican artists and vice versa,” he tells TIDAL.
Born in Jamaica and moving to America with his family at age nine, Mystic has always maintained a presence in both spaces. With a deep-seated love of reggae music, he’s been back-and-forth between the two cultures his whole life, visiting family, touring and connecting with fellow artists in his native isle.
With his forthcoming album, Enter the Mystic, slated for a February 2019 release, Mystic has returned to the genre’s roots sound. “When you think of reggae music, you think of love and chill and cool vibes,” he says, “but we wanted to elaborate on the hard roots and the hard energy part of reggae music.”
In the Q&A below, Mystic talks about what’s in store for the project, his take on reggae in the states and bridging the gap between the U.S. and Jamaican reggae scenes.
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Your album, Enter the Mystic, is coming out in February next year. How does this project differ from what you’ve put out in the past?
This album differs from the last because of the level of production and time and energy we put in. We’ve been working on it for almost four years. We went into this project with a strong focus on developing the hard roots reggae sound. When you think of reggae music, you think of love and chill and cool vibes, but we wanted to elaborate on the hard roots and the hard energy part of reggae music. We added some hip-hop elements, some rock elements with grungy electric guitars on top. We brought a lot of deep messages while keeping it fun and keeping it tasteful for the audience to be able to digest it. On top of it, we went in with a mindset to have each song be like a movie, something real theatrical.
Where did you put the project together?
We recorded it in Boston and we sent it off to New York. We did half the recording in Boston and half the recording in Mercy Sound Studios. We got some outside help from some producers around the country. We have Jah Warrior Shelter from California and also Green Lighting Crew. We have outside producers, inside producers and also myself.
What has your relationship been with Jamaica? How often are you over there?
Even though I live in Boston, I’m originally from Jamaica. I always keep ties. I have half my family still living in Jamaica. Jamaica is the epicenter of reggae music, so I’m there a couple times a year, whether it’s for promo or a concert or a tour.
Is there a reggae scene in Boston?
Boston does have a reggae scene. I think Boston, more than anywhere in the U.S., is strong because of its college presence. There’s already a thick culture for reggae music in Boston that’s been cultivated for decades and decades. It’s a big hub for reggae music. All these colleges have their own local radio stations and they all play their own variety of reggae music.
You’ve been in Boston since you were nine years old, but you’re originally from Jamaica. How was that transition for you as a kid?
I’m from an area of Jamaica called Goshen, which is in St. Elizabeth, which is a farming community. To go from the farm, the big trees, the animals to Boston with the big skyscrapers, the hustle and bustle and fast pace. Gradually, as time went by, I figured out my sweet spot and bob and weave in the Boston element. After a while, it became natural.
What were you listening to growing up?
My first memory of actual music was hearing Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier.” I was on my parents’ front porch, and the song came on the radio. I was like, ‘What is this magic I’m hearing?’ I was a kid, like five years old. I was hooked. After that, they played it for me all the time. Bob Marley’s music really opened my eyes up to the genre as a kid.
When did you start making your own music?
My brother Stephen was four or five years older than me was in the hip-hop world, breakdancing and singing. He was in the culture at that time, and I was probably 12 or 13 tagging along with him. He would get up onstage and showcase and rap, and he gave me a shot and called me up onstage. People really liked it, so I kept pursuing it and built a name off of that.
As someone who is a part of the reggae scene in the states, what’s your perspective on how the scene operates in the states?
My honest opinion is, the US reggae scene is based in California in the West coast. I hate to use teh world cliquey, but…it’s kind of cliquey. They take care of artists they know, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I find that they need to extend it a little more and bring guys on from the East coast and down South and guys from Jamaica. I want to see the big US bands touring with Jamaican artists and vice versa, building the genre.
Who do you see now that’s up and coming that you’re excited about?
I think I’m on the asme page as most when they say Chronixx. I love what he’s doing for the genre, he’s doing it from a humble stance. Chronixx, Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid. There’s a few artists really doing it and doing it strong.
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