The atmosphere in Jamaica is often reflected in the music. Popular Dancehall, in particular, has become dark, not just in tones and melodies but most importantly in content. A steady feed of young skilled artists testing the limits of their imagination, using a singular subject; gun violence. Indeed it is a reality, as crime waves wash over the island. Yet, amid this sea of chaos, there often arises a beacon, or a breath of fresh air that we all share. One that brings a balance. The young St Mary phenom, Yaksta has hit big with his fresh new single Ambition, which is currently that breath of fresh air the music space may need more of.
With “Farming over Flossing” as his mantra, the Bush Lawd’s new single is still taking the island and in time, the world by storm. As this song changes the music world, so too does it change Yaksta’s own world. Even as the young talent makes his transition from dreaming a subtle ambition into existence, to the responsibility involved with nurturing and living in the waking success of his creative conviction; the show goes on. Though caught in the limbo of two seemingly different realities, Yaksta is prepared to entertain, to educate, to inspire and to be himself at all costs.
DancehallMag finally caught up with the rising star at Vigilanti Entertainment Studios for the scoop on his meteoric rise to prominence.
It’s safe to say Ambition is your breakout single, did you see it happening this way?
Well, not in particular, regarding the track. But I have been working for this day. It’s just that sometimes a sudden flight, causes a universal impact. Yuh undastan? So everything just crash down pon mi one time and I wasn’t fully ready. But nonetheless, I have to be ready because now is the moment.
What was your thought process or the inspiration that led to the song?
It stemmed from me actually understanding myself. Being more aware about Yaksta. I start realize that sometimes, we need fi make some filter, fi di yute dem. Cause, it is just dregs alone people a get now, not the actual drink. You understand? Mi just realize say Dancehall is lacking in truth. There’s alot that has been said, still being said, but people nah receive it. Why? Because it hasn’t reached the right ears, or it’s not on the right beat with the right frequency. So this was created or conceived from a very thoughtful place, with a more spiritual feel. But the truth was needed in this time. I think I just voice and release it at the right time, and then it just had a domino effect.
How long have you been doing music?
I started doing music when I was six, back in St Mary. My cousin used to play some Kartel and Mavado dem time deh, he was going to St. Mary High School at the time. Him name Tommy. Really and truly the influence[to do music] stem from there. Throughout my school days, I did my little thing in drama class or whatever, but it never was a career for me until I reached in my teens.
After that I stopped, started doing some juggling, selling clothes, brazzierre, you know escallion, thyme; dem likkle ting deh. Met my baby mother, stopped, go look a work, then jump off the work again when I met Negus and we started pursuing music. Professionally it would be from February 2016.
How would you describe your growth since you started when compared to where you are now ?
Exponential. There’s so many different aspects of thank yous and fiascos that to me was a gift. It was through the failures, I realized that I needed to go a little bit harder, be much more adamant about my dream. Triumph sometimes can seem overwhelming but I think it does play a significant part in who you are, or who you ought to become. So for me it was a journey that I would never try to deflect or alter.
Bold is a word that I would use to describe your music, it’s a quality I think we share as Jamaicans, we’re bold enough to dare. You are daring to be more than what the audience wants. You’re daring to be what some would say we need. Do you see it that way?
Yeah because authenticity is what many people lack in these times. Because everybody tries to be true to what society projects onto them to be and not who they actually are. So i try to capitalize on me because–bro I’m not superman, I can’t save the world, but if everybody is deranged, I think we’re going to have too many deranged babies being born. Some mothers giving birth to children who are going to be worse than this generation, you can see what’s going on. Crime has always been a thing, because of the equilibrium. But when it comes to a point where you can actually manipulate a mind from it’s young, and turn it into a desolate being–a place with no fruit or vegetation. That’s when you have to intervene and pour some water, be a flood of glory more time. Fi tell yuh di truth, from me a likkle yute, I accept the fact that I’m just a man that tell you like it is. Not in a disrespectful manner, but I think the truth is like a bullet, when it slaps you, it hurts. So you have to have some more people like that.
I was watching an interview with a lady recently and she was saying that people strive for different things with their art, not a lot of people strive for truth. Sometimes truth is a very difficult thing to pursue as an artist. It’s not easy to digest for others and not easy for the artist to broach either. You seem to do it very seamlessly, even your other songs like Humans, don’t seem too judgmental.
Yea, because it’s not just the leaders alone, but every single thing is of a matrix or in a matrix. So when you calculate certain things you realize you have some defects and sometimes you have factions with different beliefs, so all those things you have to factor into it as well.
It’s much more nuanced. Certainly, the artists aren’t responsible for the level of crime we’re seeing now, but they are very influential figures in our society.
You see, a bombs is very destructive, knife, money, and all the materials of this world can bring any destruction. But the greatest weapon we have in life, is the mouth. Because when words are being said, they can be transcended several different ways. You understand? It can cost millions of lives. It is because of a command that soldiers and police move. It is because of a command, why certain relationships don’t work. It is because of a thought process a=mixed with a command that causes many motions or actions. So is like we have to take into consideration that we have the biggest platform. We are even stronger than the Prime Minister. But because we’re always set to abide by the law we don’t realize. They have the power to mislead a whole generation by making promises, but we have the power to command them to move.
Bob Marley, Vybz Kartel had that power, many other people had that power. Those who came before us were very prolific, and we as youths don’t realize so instead of harnessing the power into a positive big bang, we try to decipher our own little pieces. When we should actually be putting it all together and have one fraternity that makes sense. The gun songs have their purpose, girl songs have their purpose likewise, clothes and vanity same way have their purpose. But you can’t just keep feeding them the same one thing. It’s almost like you’re giving a fat kid pizza everyday.
How old are you?
Where in St Mary did you grow up?
St Mary a di best place, no disrespect to anybody but yuh done know mi love my place. I grew up in the capital of St Mary, Port Maria, right cross di bridge. Big up Glock street, Frontier Pagee, Islington, Oracabessa, Highgate, Race course, Galina and dem place deh.It was great[growing up there]. There was always many incidents when it comes to Yaksta aka Kemaul Martin, but I was always creative and jovial but I always had the sense of an old soul. I’m very curious.
Then after leaving Port Maria, I came to Kingston then moved to Mobay for a time, and then back in Kingston, now I’m in St Mary. But the upbringing was good, my mother did her best, with ten kids but at least she had that drive to make sure that we were alright. So I have to play my part now by being the man, because you know she’s getting elderly.
When can we expect new music?
In the middle of next month, which is April. We’ll be releasing our next single and as mi say, I just come fi do Yaksta. Mi nah try compete against nobody, mi just a try be me. Me never know this song would be a hit song, I knew it was good but– so just expect more songs in this vein, and more. Because if you check Boogie Woogie, once the riddim right and the feeling is right, I’m just going to create. I’m a creator, I create whatever I feel, so expect an EP by May and then some singles.