Reggae | Prezident Brown

Irie™ Magazine | Reggae - Prezident Brown

Prezident Brown

Journeyman Pilgrimage

Prezident Brown (Fitz Cotterell) was born in the hills of Clarendon, Jamaica. His mother called him ‘Junior Ranking’ because he would grab the microphone and chant at schoolyard and country dances. He was first known as Slim Brown because of his resemblance to and similar DJ style to his mentor, U Brown. The most formative influence on Prezident Brown was producer and sound system operator Jack Ruby. Ruby saw something special in young Slim Brown; he took Slim Brown under his wing, re-named him Prezident Brown and appointed him resident M.C. of his Hi-Power Sound System, traveling worldwide.

After the sound system era changed following Jack Ruby’s death in 1989, he began recording with Grove Music, who later founded Irie FM in Jamaica. After that, he recorded with Roof International, Courtney Cole’s label. Eventually it was Barry O’Hare’s label, X-Rated (now World A Muzik), that provided a home base for Prezident Brown and helped launch his career in Europe. X-Rated took off just as a massive roots revival swept across Jamaica, washing gun and slackness lyrics out of the dance halls, paving the way for conscious reggae music. Of course Prezident Brown was bound to rise in that kind of climate. He is a champion in the new roots and reality consciousness. Prezident Brown entertains, informs and inspires. His message is pure rasta conscious vibes.

By 1995, he flooded the market from all sides, he was freelancing without a break. He was bringing out boom-tunes on the X-Rated label, among others like Digital B, Black Scorpio, Mango and Star Trail. He recorded the song, ‘Blow Your Nose’, with Everton Blender, (an artist, with whom, he has toured Africa and Europe.) Prezident Brown also recorded on Tony Rebel’s Flames label. (It should be noted that his style is frequently liken to that of Rebel’s.) Prezident was also featured in the song, ‘Black And Proud’, on the Steel Pulse album Rage And Fury. He has recorded with numerous other reggae legends as well. Barry O’Hare’s X-rated label produced two albums, Big Bad and Talented and Prezident Selections, (distributed on the Runn label.) After a third album, Original Blueprint, (produced by Digital B, now licensed by VP Records) he continued t release singles. 1996 he signed a lucrative 5 album artist deal with Island Records, which didn’t work in his favor. He then made the timeless To Jah Only album with the highly regarded Ocho Rios label, Kariang, in 1998.

At the turn of the millenium he worked with German based label Chet Records and released the album Generation Next which is distributed by Sony Germany. ‘Unleash the Lion’, A 46 show tour in the summer of 2002 with the Orchestra of Judah put together by Jahmani Productions took Prezident Brown all over the United States, including performances at The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival and Reggae On The River. Also, Jahmani Productions released Showcase Volumes 1 and 2 that year with Showcase Volume 3 following in 2003. Prezident has since done repeat performances at both festivals and has added may other prestigious ones to his list such as the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in 2008. Prezident Brown continues to perform worldwide, recent performances include Israel and Paris in February of 2009.

Prezident Brown has been very well received in the United States and is building a large fan base, and as a champion of the new roots and reality consciousness reggae movement he entertains, informs and inspires. Prezident Brown’s music speaks a universal language. All of his albums and singles will remain timelessly beautiful and his fourth album, To Jah Only, features one of the most spiritually devoted songs in reggae history, ‘To Jah Only’. His music is echoed overseas and his talent is unequivocal. All of his albums are a must for anyone who loves reggae music. Prezident Brown is an artist driven by a sense of mission and purpose which dictates that he ‘edutains’ (heightens the consciousness of a people) as much as entertains. Prezident Brown is eminently qualified for the role in which he is seen as a vessel from which flows the healing effect of his musical staple.

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The Interview

IRIE. Your mother gave you the name ‘Junior Ranking’ as a youth because you would grab the microphone and chant at schoolyard and country dances. Did you know at the time that music would become an important part of your life?

Prezident Brown. From birth my mother called me Junior, different from my registered name, probably because of the close resemblance I have to my Father.

In school and my home community I was always popular as an artist for drawing and painting. Then, when I started expressing myself vocally at small country dances, school yard and around the Jukebox at the local bar, Ranking was added to Junior. At age 14, I knew that music would somehow become an important part of my life situation because there’s a musical feeling in me that never goes away.

IRIE. You launched your musical career at the age of fourteen, deejaying under the name ‘Slim Brown’, a name given to you by dee-jay Nicodemus because of your resemblance and similar style to U-Brown. What was going through your mind during this period in your life?

Prezident Brown. During the time period of my Journey when I was named ‘Slim Brown’ by Nicodemus at Arrow’s Bamboo Lawn, in Oracabessa, St. Mary, I remember feeling lifted! As a youth in rural Jamaica at that time, to be passed and named by one of the hardest Sound System DJs from Kingston City was special and inspiring!

IRIE. You managed to develop your own style of deejaying called ‘The Chanting Stylee’. Can you share with us the origin of this style of deejaying?

Prezident Brown. I describe my style as Chanting because my delivery is really chanting, rhyming and reasoning with melody! The root of my style comes from U Roy, U Brown, Brigadeir Jerry, Josey Wales, Charlie Chaplin and the champions of the Rub a Dub Sound System era. I also draw inspiration from my favorite reggae groups such as the Wailers, Steel Pulse, Burning Spear and Joseph Hill (Culture).

IRIE. You were discovered by legendary producer and sound system operator Jack Ruby. He not only took you under his wing, but re-named you Prezident Brown. How did you first meet? How has his mentorship influence your music career?

Prezident Brown. I was discovered by the Legendary Producer and Sound System Owner/Operator Lawrence (Jack Ruby) Lindo through Professor Frisky, my friend from school who became a resident Mc on Jack Ruby sound system at the time. The 6th of August 1983 Jack Ruby Hi- Power in the town square of oraccabessa, St. Mary, Independence street dance, the microphone was passed to me by Frisky and at the end of my performance that night I was offered a spot on the Sound as Mc by selector Fat Jaw. And after hearing the dance tape, Jack Ruby himself sent for me as a new member of his team.

Lawrence (Jack Ruby) Lindo is a major influence to my music because he truly encouraged the artist that I am. Through his mentorship I got a deeper understanding into music and music production. As he would say “Make music that can pass the airport” meaning… music that can go international. He even said I was the first DJ he will get signed to Island Records. Sadly he passed 1989. By early 90’s my voice started to become popular on record and in 1996 I signed a deal with Island Jamaica. Lawrence Lindo, Rest In Power.

IRIE. You are gearing up to release your 10th studio album, ‘Journeyman Pilgrimage’, which is livicated to the memory of Jack Ruby. This album, featuring 14 conscious tracks, is very close to your heart. Can you share with us why?

Prezident Brown. Journeyman Pilgrimage is my 10th studio album! It’s important to me and close to my heart because it marks a point on my journey where i’m most comfortable with my sound and my experience in music production. It’s livicated to the memory of Lawrence (Jack Ruby) Lindo because when i listen in it’s like I’m chanting the big heavy weight champion sound! Console shaped like a 32 channel mixing desk, 2 turn tables, Power Amplifiers stacked, 12 House of Joy double 18” speaker boxes, 12 Top end and mid range boxes + steel horns. Motto: The Immortal JACK RUBY’S HI-POWER The black experience that bring’s unity to the community.

IRIE. Is there a particular track on the album that is personal to you?

Prezident Brown. Two particular tracks on the album more personal to me include ‘Bullhead Mountain (Country Mi Come From)’ a three minute discription of my geographical location (Bull Head, Clarendon, the rural district called Johnnies Hill) where I entered planet earth and covered my journey through three parishes, to foreign and back rejoicing in song.

The second track is ‘Hexagram 56 (The Traveler)’. Through out my career and in my travels to many different places, some times I go solo and work with different people and is always treated with respect and care, Therefore Never Be Ungrateful! Grattitude we say! Do not take kindness for weakness or for granted; principles I like to live by.

IRIE. Yes I! Can you share with us some of the musicians and producers performing on the album?

Prezident Brown. On this album we have Barry O’hare, one of Jamaica’s top engineers and producer; Devon Bradshaw, bassist/producer from Axx Of Jahpostles and the original Burning Spear band. Guitarist/Producer Ian “Beezy” Coleman, famous from Ziggy Marley’s Band. Young and talented artist/producer Rivah-Jordan Bailey son of Reggae singer Jack Radics, Dean Frazer, Nambo Robinson, Addis Pablo son of the great Augustus Pablo, original Dj U Brown.

We also feature some of the Bay Area musicians that I tour with such as Ryan Daisley, Toho Saunders, Cliff Manswell and Sandrum Vanhorne.

IRIE. As an artist, you are driven by a mission to edutain as much as entertain with your music. Why is this important to Prezident Brown?

Prezident Brown. It is important for me to Edutain, and at the same time Entertain, Inform and Inspire because I love people. Having the talent to vocalize through such a powerful medium as music, I choose to use it to affect people in a peaceful and positive way.

IRIE. A special Big Up to Roxanne Haynes for the amazing photo shoot for Journeyman Pilgrimage. When did you first meet and what was it like to work with Roxanne?

Prezident Brown. I met Roxanne Haynes many years ago at SNWMF, but our first official shoot was 2015, in Exchange, Ocho Rios, JA. She’s creative and fun to work with.

IRIE. What do you hope your fans take from listening to Journeyman Pilgrimage?

Prezident Brown. From listening to Journeyman Pilgrimage, I hope my fans take or get the peace I practice and carry with me on my journey always.

IRIE. When did you become a Rasta and why?

Prezident Brown. I recognized Rasta internally from an early age of around 7-8 years young! Back in the days when the Rastaman was outcasted by the Jamaican society and labeled as black heart man who abduct little children, I remember not being afraid but more drawn to the powerful image and peaceful presence he carried. In 1995, I realized that spiritually I am to declare myself. Hail HIM and allow my hair to grow.

IRIE. Hate has reared it’s ugly head in the United States along with the rise of intolerance around the world. If there was one thing you could tell people who are hurting in this time to give them hope, what would that be?

Prezident Brown. I would tell people who are hurting in this time that “even though the sky is heavily overcast, the sun hasn’t disappeared. It’s still there on the other side of the clouds”.

IRIE. Is there anything you would like to add or say to the IRIE audience?

Prezident Brown. Tower up! Irie Magazine audience! Life’s journey has many steps in time but we can only take them one at a time, so the most important step is always the one we’re taking now, not yesterday nor tomorrow.

IRIE. Much Love and Respect, Prezident Brown! We are with you in your journey!