IRIE. In July 2014, you released your fifth album, ‘Salam”, which means ‘Peace”, under the Oneness Records, a release that includes the track, ‘Re-Education’ featuring Kabaka Pyramid. How did you connect to work together?
Ras Muhamad: The “Salam” album was quite an incredible musical journey on how things came together. First I have to big up Uwe Kaa, Jah T/Thomas Freundorfer, One Drop Band, Oneness Records & IrieVibration. They were my strong supporting elements for me to take a giant step outside of Indonesia. It all started in 2012 when Jah T, who worked at Goethe had the idea of doing a cross-cultural tour project between Germany and Indonesia. Jah T, who is a big Reggae fan, an elder in whom I enjoy listening to his stories when he saw Bob Marley live in Munich, had the idea of putting the project in a Reggae platform. The project was called Jer-In for “Jerman-Indonesia Reggae Tour” and Uwe Kaa was chosen as the Deutsch Reggae artist since his lyrics were predominantly all in Deutsch. I had the honor to be his supporting act; Uwe and I alongside his band the One Drop band toured for about 4 cities in Indonesia. And I tell you after the tour, so many Reggae artists are looking forward to play in Indonesia. Well, Uwe & One Drop were the ones that suggested if they want to voice a couple of Oneness Records riddims since One Drop did many of the instrumental tracks for Oneness Records. I couldn’t imagine that I would have an album 2 years later released by Oneness Records, in which I’m a big fan of the works they did with Sara Lugo “What about Love?” and Naptali “Long Journey” album. It was also quite casual and natural how the album turned to shape. I voiced the riddims and reasoned most of the time with M (affectionately for Morry DaBaron) one of the producers and owners of Oneness. The first Oneness tune that was released was by my “Farmerman” combination with Naptali through the Reggaeville megaselection album. It was historically to me in music, the first Indonesian-Jamaican collaboration that’s backed by Germany. So you could see how music makes the world just a tad bit smaller in distance. After releasing 2 more singles by Oneness. “Nuh Badmind Friend” , “Blow Them Away” in which is also a part of my “Salam” album; 2 singles by IrieVibration “Taking Over” & “Get Thru it”. Morry and Oneness offered to release a full-album by me. So I felt really grateful to seize that opportunity and show what Indonesian Reggae could do. During the process of the “Salam” album, it was meant to be released in 2013, but I was caught up in tour schedules for promoting the “Negeri Pelangi” book. It was also a good thing that the album experienced a delay, since I could take my time and actually reflect, reshape and redefine what I could offer to the world with the “Salam” album. At that time all the planned combinations. I took chance. Such as the combination with Uwe Kaa “Barriers n Borders”, it’s a continuation what we were and are feeling about the German-Indonesian collaboration project, that it seems music could give us wings these days and let your works be heard in other parts of the world. The combination with “Sara Lugo” was a natural one, I supported her music since 2011 and played her music frequently in my radio show. She always figured that there needs to be a combination together for her to also reach to her Indonesian fans, (yes she has so many fans in Indonesia). So, we made “Learn and Grow”, I really took a few steps up with my lyrics and melodic structure in this particular tune. In a way I want to make it melodic, unpredictable in a multi-syllable rhyme yet easy to catch when a person hears the message. The tune with Kabaka Pyramid “Re-Education” is one of my personal favorite, I’m proud and yet humbled to work together with one of Reggae’s current leading lyricist; it shows also that I as someone who come from Indonesia won’t slack with my lyrics and have to keep my craft well fine and sharp. First time I heard Kabaka, was on the same Reggaeville project also and when I heard him, in my head “whoa! This guy delivers his verses like he a Emcee ! I can get with that !” so, right off the head I knew Kabaka was a Big Hip-Hop head from my first listen of the “High & Windy” tune. So, I linked him through my networks just to hail di bredda up n show my respect. And yet again , his Rebel Music EP was playing every week in my radio especially “Warrior”, “No Capitalist”, “WorldWide Love” and “Free from Chains” after I link him. Off from the music, Kabaka and I reasoned plenty about Khemet (Ancient Egypt’s original name) and that’s one thing we found in common; that what we see everything on earth now technology, architecture, music, martial arts, sports, religion, philosophy, you name it; it all has its roots in Africa, it started all by the people of the Nile River. And that was what “Re-Education” is all about. Kabaka and I didn’t have to reason what the combination will be about, we both know before a combination idea was ever mentioned. He knew that I always find common links between Indonesia and Africa in ancient civilizations. Like how Ankhorwat in Cambodia was founded by a Javanese Indonesian King and it is said that the temples are directed to the Giza Pyramids. Like how Indonesian ancient temples and African Pyramids are accurate in it’s structural mathematics from stand-point to an aerial view. We wanted to re-educate to who ever was listening that here in Asia and in Africa, we had a far advanced ancient civilization where we could trade knowledge and cultures between vast continents. What we are taught these days, the ancients are always separated from each other that this world only exist with an ignorance of a next world. You could call it the realm of spiritual science; but we were never taught about ourselves and our origins, we were never taught that that matters of the universe and space actually connect to us and vice versa. That education and that “knowledge of self” was something to be avoided in text book academics, everything is statistics or for the sake of memorizing trivial half-truths and never about you or us as humankind. In the “Salam” album I did not forget my Indonesian brothers either, I collaborated with 3 of my favorite talented people in Reggae music. Conrad Good Vibrations, Kunokini and Mighty Che; they have their own characteristics in style and it was such a joy collaborating with them; it also shows the talent and give the “Salam” album much more richness. You won’t hear Indonesia just from me but also from my brothers and showing the listener what they can do and where they’re coming from. One particular tune that I’m very proud of is “Leluhur” meaning Ancestors, it’s about Indonesian national identity and where we are going as a nation. It was my idea to Oneness to make music that is distinctively Indonesian, so I call on my Kunokini brothers to play the traditional Indonesian instruments. The serunai, the flute in the beginning of “Leluhur” is used for Pencak Silat, where this form of our Martial arts, fighters would call on an animal spirit or perhaps an ancestral warrior to take over the fighter’s physical being. Indonesia is still quite strong in Mystics.