Interview of Mikey General
Mikey General is well known in and around Reggae circles for his conscious lyrics sung in melodious tones. He has been in the business for over 20 years and, after watching an inspiring performance at the Bristol leg of the Luciano tour in 2001, Daintycrew.com were able to interview Mikey back stage...
Born and raised in Harlesden (London, England) until he was 2 years old, Mikey General then moved to Jamaica with his parents. When in Jamaica, Mikey was raised in areas such as Harbour View, Valentine Gardens off Molynes Road in Kingston 19 and Red Hills Road. He recalls completing his stage name when he came back to England in 1982, "General in Jamaica when I used to live in a community named Valentine Gardens. When we used to go outta street, me used to wear some big pants and dem used to say me favour de governor general. Dem used to call me Governor General, then just General because of my skill with de football." Gappy Dread, owner of the UK sound Vinyl Star, was the man who completed Mikey's name as he heard Mikey singing using just the name 'General'. Mikey says, "Him say too many people using General like General Trees, etc. My 1st name is Mikey, so him say put that in front of it."
Mikey accepted the Covenant and the Rastafarian faith seven years ago, but says, "Rasta is an in-born thing." He does not belong to any specific order, such as Twelve Tribes, Nyabinghi or Orthodox, but instead says he follows the, "Precepts of Haile Selassie." Mikey's belief is that "Rastafari is the goodness of your heart and the cleanliness of your mind and accepting the precepts of His Imperial Majesty."
Born to sing, according to Mikey, as his mother said he used to always make noise as a baby. He used to mimic songs on the radio by such greats as Horace Andy, Peter Tosh, Sugar Minot, Desmond Dekker and Bob Marley. Mikey then joined the church choir at the age of 7 and was also in his school choir for five years. However, when he went onto high school, there was no choir, so Mikey started singing in the classroom. His teachers even encouraged him and they would call him up to sing. It got to the point where Mikey's community told him he had a good voice and should take singing seriously.
It was 1980, when Mikey was around the age of 16, that he recorded his first song called “Roots Me Roots.” Produced by Rudie Silence, Mikey recalls, "It wasn't very successful, but it was my first experience in the studio and it gave me a lot of encouragement."
From then it was a natural progression and being a songwriter as well, although Mikey says his songs are "Co-written by Jah," success was not too far away. Hit songs for Mikey are ones that "Have an effect on somebody or touch somebody" and the hits must be rolling, as he has done five albums to date, with the latest being Spiritual Revolution, that was released in 2002.
Alongside Luciano, Mikey has a company called Jah Messenjah Productions and they do their own production, including Mikey's last album. They also worked with co-producers such as Dean Fraser, the Firehouse Crew, and Cell Block Studio, to name a few. Those are not the only production people Mikey has worked with; he has worked with Xterminator, Robert French, Black Scorpio and "most of the good producers in Jamaica."
Mikey has worked on non-reggae formats as well including R&B, Blues and Jazz. He has produced artists such as Babatunde, Milton Black, Natural Black, Bitter Roots and a lot of other new artists.
Being in the limelight means that there are numerous people who lookup to Mikey as a role model and this is something he takes seriously. He says, "I definitely have a duty to be a positive role model because what we have is a gift from The Almighty. He can rise up anybody to do this work that I do, so with that in mind, I try to be a positive role model so that I might find favour in the eyes of Jah." In line with this, Mikey does community-based work and gives back to the community in the form of keeping treats, buying books, pencils and school bags and also holding football competitions. Mikey believes, "Unity is strength. Music and sports help the interaction." As such, Mikey embraces anything that brings forth unity.
Many people ask about the fact that Mikey seems to be around Luciano more time in terms of tours, etc, and he says the reason behind this is that they are very close and he respects him. Ultimately, Mikey says, "I want to be with people of a like mind with a clean mentality."
Having been in the business for over 20 years, Mikey has his dislikes of the Reggae music industry, not least the "system of payola." In his words, "The system of payola where they stifle good music and play that which they're paid for. Profanity in the music. These are the things I dislike the most. The robbing/stealing of rights and not giving people credit for their work." He sees music as an "honourable job" and as such something that is good to do. He specifically wants to put across a message in his music, "Dependence on The Almighty and reverence for Almighty God because in this time that we live, the people lack faith, knowledge and understanding. It's important that we bring out that Godly character in ourselves. I try to sing songs about hope too to encourage myself and other people who are in the same situation."
His songs must be working their magic somehow as he has a strong following and of his accomplishments, Mikey says, "There is more I can do and I am striving for it." For the future, Mikey is working on a new album of the Jah Messenjah/Qabalah First Music label (two labels, one company) and he says, "I'm praying for a national or Top of the Pops or Billboard (laughs)."
Mikey advises up and coming singers to "stay positive and stay clean" and his final words for his fans are, "Keep strong, keep the faith and remember to pray. Be true to yourself. Strive for peace and strive for happiness. Blessed."
A truly humble and talented singer, Mikey General has been around for over 20 years and we have no doubt he will be around for another 20!
For information about bookings, check out the Jah Messenjah Productions website at www.jahmessenjah.com or contact Comar Production Inc, 8 Brompton Road #4, Kingston, Jamaica. You can also telephone them on 876 978 3556. Alternatively, use email and either of these addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org
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