Interview: Brian “B.Dot” Miller
In part two of our feature, Rap Radar spoke to Bob’s son on his philanthropic efforts to Africa, Jamaica’s music ban, and Westerners’ laziness.
Previously: Nas x Damian Marley: E Pluribus Unum (Part 1)
Whose idea was it to do this album?
It came about through an idea that was really from management. I guess the seed was sowed before [with] me and Nas working together previously. But it was really my manager who brought the idea to me saying that it would great if me and Nas did an EP together toward Africa. So, originally when the idea came to me, it was supposed to be like five to six songs based around Africa. And when we started working on the music, everybody was loving what we’re doing so we decided to make it an album.
Will you be spitting any rhymes?
Um, [laughs] well, the album isn’t finished yet, so we’ll have to see. I mean, a lot of the words I’m using, I have to express myself clearly so that even Nas fans can understand that are my fans. So I can definitely say that about the approach I’ve been taking on this album.
Will any of your brothers be featured on the album?
Stephen will be on the album also.
Have you always been a fan of Nas?
Yeah, definitely. That’s really how he became a part of “Road To Zion” cause I was a fan of his music.
If your father were alive, what do you think he’d say of this collaboration?
Well, I think he’d be very proud. I think Nas would be on the artists he would be a fan of in terms of what Nas stands for in his lyrics and what he has communicated to the fans over the years when it comes to Africa and African philosophy. So in that sense, I can see him being a fan of Nas even without me having to do an album with him. And of course, you know the fact we’re doing an album geared toward Africa there is no secret that was something that was very close to my father’s heart, so that’s something that would definitely resonate with him.
Are they’re any other rappers you think he’d be a fan of?
You kind of put me on the spot there cause I don’t want to name and leave out anyone. I can tell you that, my father is very much a fan of people who are trying to uplift people and make people become more conscious and more aware what’s going on in life and especially in a very spiritual way. “One Love” is one of the greatest songs of my father and that’s really speaking about oneness of people regardless of faith, regardless of skin color, regardless of culture. So, I know he’d be very much appreciative of anyone that does music of that caliber.
You often speak highly of Africa. Why are most of your efforts connected to the continent?
As Rastas we have a great affinity toward Africa. Our faith is definitely based on a lot of African philosophy and we’re very close to Ethiopia. As Rastas we use Imperial majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia as reincarnation of Christ in our time. So that in itself brings us close to Africa.
What about in Jamaica? Have you extended your efforts there as well?
Well, you see. The words on the album is going to be uplifiting no matter where you come from. We try to make sure that there is a balance between songs that are really geared toward Africa and songs that anyone could relate too. And even the songs that are geared to Africa, we try to make them related to people who are not from Africa. I’ve done a lot of work toward Jamaica and Jamaica is still very much my homeland where I have a lot love for. At the same time, you know I always try to explain, like in Jamaica and America you have things like public libraries. Adults who don’t have education can go to high schools and get free education after hours in a lot of communities in America. Like wise, in Jamaica too. They’re certain privlages that are not really opportunities that are really available in Africa. As bad as things are in Jamaica, it’s still not really comparable to Africa.
True, but places like Spanish Town are real wicked.
Not just Spanish Town—all towns. [Laughs] Yeah, the situation in Jamaica is dire. But like I said again, in Jamaica I think a lot of it has to do with the waking up of the people. There is a lot of opportunity there for the people if they would take it. A lot of it in Jamaica also in America, it has to do with also laziness. So, you can’t over look that factor. Meanwhile in Africa, you still have a lot of people who regardless of laziness, there is not certain opportunities available.
Oh, from lack of resources.
Speaking of Jamaica, how do you feel about the recent music ban?
I’m not too much of a big of a fan of the ban. But at the same time, I’m not too much a big of the fan of the fans that created the ban either. That’s kind of my stance. As a Rasta—in the 50s and 60s even the 70s also a lot of Rastas were persecuted for being a Rasta. So in that sense, I’m an advocate of freedom of expression. Freedom of speech. Freedom living how you want to live because I want to live how I want to live. We been through that struggle as Rastas. But at the same time, artists got to remember they’re role models. Whether they like it or not. You have a lot young children that look up to artists and take what we say as gesture, a lot of young people take it seriously. So, it’s trying to find a balance. Maybe the ban is not the balance, but they’re really trying to find a balance.
It seems crazy, because dance hall has always been rebellious. It’s rooted in Jamaican culture.
Yeah, it comes out of left field. But as outrageous as we have been, certain things are getting really outrageous and a lot of the problems stem from school kids. There was problems of school kids having sex on school buses, ya know. Doing things of sexual nature in school. Things of that nature which they say we need to influence on the children. It’s a whole stem of where this is coming from. You got to look for a balance.