Rocker-T is a multi-talented musician out of Brooklyn, New York. His philosophy is to promote peace, love and equality worldwide through his music. As a youth, he was exposed to just about every type of music. His mother taught him the classics on the piano and he listened to everything from Frank Sinatra, to Pink Floyd, to Run DMC. After success with a variety of bands he settled into the reggae genre and has made a music has made a major impact ever since. Starting at the age of 13, he has enjoyed the use of marijuana and continues to be an advocate for its legal use. He has just released a new album called “The Return of a True Gangaman”. Rocker-T explained the making of the album and various phases of his expanding career.
R.V.B. – Congratulations on your upcoming release The Return of the True Ganjaman. What is the story behind making the tracks? Is the title character real or fictional?
Rocker-T – Many thanks! I am a TruGanjaman meaning I advocate the herb as a cultural necessity for humans to use and cultivate as a means to see thru thebabylonianshitstem. I am directly inspired by Peter Tosh, especially his actions and attitudes. There are many TruG-Man & Mama all around the world and the song is a tribute to them as well as my own self-declaration. It is a worldwide call for I-nification.
R.V.B. – How long of a process was it to complete this project? Did you write most of the music and then invite guests to help out? What was the decision process of remixing older tracks? You recently released your successful True Ganjaman with many different remixes. Was this fun for you to take this successful song and rework it in so many different ways?
Rocker-T – Began on this sometime in the fall of 2015… Project started as just a few remixes of da original trak for 20th anniversary in 2016. Somehow it became 23 remixes! And then an album appeared from all the amazing momentum!I truly am touched and honored by all the Producers who remixed this classic track. They came with pure original fire. Most of my guests were asked to write vocals before I did so that all of their styles would be represented as purely and truly as possible. I decided to add remixes of older tunes that haven’t gotten as much attention as TruGanjaman, as well as some recent herb tunes of mine because while Reggae Hip-Hop Dancehall music is clearly my favorite medium let it be known that I have always been a fan of any music with amazing bass including everything from Ambient Dub to Jungle. Been waiting years for EDM to be popular in America to be honest.
R.V.B. – Are you encouraged by the developments of some States virtually legalizing pot? The rules and penalties here in New York need a long way to go. The Rockefeller laws were ridiculous.
Rocker-T – As long as the people protect their rights and keep their freeness then I am happy. I think that Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia had said that due to the immense stress and pressure of living in NYC 5 Boros that New Yorkers should be allowed to partake in smoking the herb. Be great if the people knew this and acted accordingly. Remember in the 90s we the people paraded for JayDay and blazed a trail all the way down 5th Avenue to Washington Square Park. Gotta get active. We no fear babylon!
R.V.B. – What kind of band will you carry to perform the new tracks live? Are there any tours scheduled?
Rocket-T – I play shows in 3 formations: Emcee set w/ Jah Warrior Shelter or DJ AZ.Redsmoke; Live Band consisting of Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keys & Percussion; or with my Dubsmashers Live Dub Experience. No tour scheduled because I am always in the process of booking shows at festivals and other event venues.
R.V.B. – You’ve delved in many different genres throughout your career. How did Reggae become your main focus? What are some of your past influences and what are some of your current ones as far as your growth in composing music?
Rocker-T – I’ve known how to read & write music since I was a small child. I luv so many kinds of music. Some examples of my diverse tastes are Sam Cooke, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, The Kinks, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Clash, John Coltrane, MDC, Parliment Funkadelic, Earth Wind & Fire, Iron Maiden, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru, New Order, Yaz, Run-DMC, BDP, Daddy Freddy, T-La Rock, Antony Santos, Lisandro Mesa, just to give you an idea. Due to the violence of the Punk, HipHop and Metal scenes in NY I began to steadily gravitate toward Reggae because I see it as a militant music that is striving to bring peace to the world. All sound system and deep bass music is in someway influenced by Dub Reggae to be clear. My favorite music is Jamaican Rudeboy and Rasta music from 1962-1974. Nature, life study & various angles of philosophical thought are my main composing influences. Nowadays I listen to Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid and Romain Virgo a lot as well as a lot of ambient meditation tracks and all kinds of stuff on Soundcloud.
R.V.B. – How do you like the fact that Brooklyn is beginning to thrive again as more and more music venues are popping up?
Rocker-T – I’m concerned that the culture of Brooklyn is becoming gentrified not just the property. Gotta keep it international and make sure the whole Boro doesn’t get white-washed. That being said I am glad to find so many new venues and great places to have parties and events and I am very much pleased and happy about the resurgence of vinyl and particularly Dancehall parties! Would luv to play the Brooklyn Bowl especially.
R.V.B. – What are some of your live performance highlights?
Rocker-T – Too many to know where to begin or end. Irving Plaza, NYC… Fillmore, SF… House Of Blues, LA… Melkweg, Amsterdam… Reggae On The River… Sierra Nevada… I will say that performing in Belmont and Portmore, JA and in Japan with Jamalski and Boy-Ken are still some of my fondest memories.
R.V.B. – How many different instruments do you play? Which ones do you primarily use to write your music?
Rocker-T – Guitar, Piano, Melodica, Nyabinghi Drums, Singing Bowls. I run sequencers and samplers too. Not biased against music making techniques and always stayin open minded. Mostly use the guitar or the drum machine when writing. I can pretty much get a tone or sound out of almost anything and sample it and create music that way as well. Either live or looped as long as its got heart, soul and flavor then I will bust lyrics and spread luv!
R.V.B. – What is your main message that you like to get out in your music?
Rocker-T – Even though the system is a fraud the truth shall set us free. Racism got to go. Luv got to enter. Raspect for each other’s rights and feelings even inclusive of disagreement is the way forward.
R.V.B. – Do you get a different vibe when you play in foreign countries?
Rocker-T – Every place is different and similar including America. It seems that everywhere I go I tend to meet some very real and crucial people. There are some countries that I haven’t even been to yet where I have huge support. I live to travel and share this music and always have a great time no matter what.
R.V.B. – Are you a spiritual person?
Rocker-T – Most definitely. Always studying and growing.
R.V.B. – Can you give me a few examples of how some of your guests on the new album helped out?
Rocker-T – From the Producers to the Engineers to the Artists everyone contributed their time and energy in the deepest way on this project. Even the Album Designer and the Photographer. Real heart and soul from the depths to the Ites. I know everyone on this project personally and they sure came correct!
R.V.B. – Can you write music straight as well as stoned?
Rocker-T – I have been influenced by Ganja since I had 13 laps of the Sun. I am a very strait and real person who comes off the hip from the lip so yes to both! I have many ways of manifesting and writing music and always listen when the voice and the melody speak to me.
R.V.B. – Is there any animosity as far as race from anyone because they may think that you’re not a true Ganjaman?
Rocker-T – I receive way more encouragement and praise than I do criticism or negativity. I don’t blame anyone for being uncomfortable around a Rasta-Buddha-BBoy-Rocker-Poet who happens to be Caucasian and says the whole World is Afrika. All of my Elders continue to teach and support my works and mission. I tend not to butt heads with particularly hateful people. Fiya of Luv.
R.V.B. – What are some of your accomplishments that your real proud of?
Rocket-T – Someone told me that a song I wrote enabled them to defeat cancer. Someone told me that they can walk because of my music. These realities completely blow my mind. When someone tells me that my music or a song I wrote helped them to overcome their greatest obstacles it actually becomes hard to describe how much that means to me. I don’t do this for myself. I really don’t know how to do or be anything but music. Yes I have to pay bills but the money I get primarily is used for getting music equipment or records and presents for children I am close to.
R.V.B. – Thanks for considering answering these questions
Rocker-T – Most Welcome and Many Blessings! Yes One!
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
For more information visit Rocker-T’s website www.rocker-t.com