interview by Maliika Walker
“When we say ‘burn fire’ we don’t mean take a match and light somebody, we are saying get rid of these things that are no good for humanity.”
Keith Anthony Blair (Anthony B) was born in Clarkstown, Trelawny, Jamaica in 1976 and was raised in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Anthony B was a rebel from a young age. He began to adopt the Rastafari way of life as a teenager but this decision was not well received by his family. Anthony B eventually moved in with his aunt and uncle in Kingston, determined to continue his path of the Rastafari lifestyle. Anthony B speaks for the poor and oppressed by using his music to express his views on the injustices that are faced by the people.
Early 90’s reggae geared toward “gyal tunes” but Anthony B was determined to use his voice to express his views through conscious music. He began working with the Richard “Bello” Bell (producer for Everton Blender and Garnett Silk) in the mid 90’s. His critically acclaimed debut album, Real Revolutionary, was released in 1996. Anthony B, a member of the Bobo Ashanti house of the Rastafari was also one of the trailblazers of the Bobo Ashanti roots reggae movement in the mid 90’s along with such greats as Sizzla, Capleton, among others.
He began releasing music thru his independent label, Born Fire Records, in 2002. Anthony B has released over 14 albums, 1,000 singles over his career. He also released critically acclaimed collaboration albums including, Too Strong with Sizzla and Three Wise Men with Sizzla and Luciano. Maliika Walker recently got a chance to speak with Anthony B about the Reggae on the River Festival, his latest album Tears of Love, and Rastafari. Here is their conversation.
Maliika: You are currently touring Europe, how is the tour going?
Anthony B: Yes I am on tour in Europe and the tour is going very well. All of the shows sold out and the fans are very excited.
Maliika: I love your last album, Tears of Love. On Hold Again you say, “Nobody can hold me back.” How important is it for the youth to understand this message?
Anthony B: It’s very important message for the youths of today and in the future to come it’s an empowering song to always keep on trying and never give up or lose faith.
Maliika: Tears of Love includes a few love songs. Can you share the inspiration for including the message of love on the album?
Anthony B: The inspiration and the message is that we need more love in this world today to love each other more. Both man and woman should teach our children to love so they can also know how to share love from a tender age.
Maliika: You are a member of the Boboashanti Order of Rastafari. I have a view that Boboashanti are more militant. Is this an accurate view? What would you like people to know about Boboashanti?
Anthony B: Yes I am of the Boboashanti Order of the Rastafari faith. Our founder and teacher Prince Emanuel teaches us that GOD IS LOVE so let’s all love so that is the main teaching. I would love all people to know about the Boboashanti Order.
Maliika: What is your view of Jamaica decriminalizing instead of just legalizing the herb?
Anthony B: My view of the decriminalization of herb is more of a Governmental Economical Benefit and not for the spiritual sacramental use that Rastafarian has been marching and singing for from the days of Peter Tosh till now.
Maliika: Where is Zion? Some say Zion is within all of us and we must become one with it. What is your belief?
Anthony B: Yes Zion is as you stated is in all of us, still for us all to become one we need justice and peace for the land of Africa where our mind can be free to love 100%. Or we will always find ourselves in a state of wondering under the heartless treatment of these Babylonian types looking at the injustice that our brothers and sisters are facing not only on the motherland but globally.
Maliika: Can you share the creative process involved regarding the tune Vow of the Nazarine? I love this song so was curious about your process in creating it.
Anthony B: The song Vow of the Nazarine, knowing that to fully coming into one with your inner spirit, one must take this Nazarine vow. I started writing lyrics and I was listening to an old Reggae mix tape and then this beat hit me so deep I could not get it out of my head. I then said to myself why fight with my spirit, just let it flow so that’s how I just let it flow like how I let my locks grow freely.
Maliika: I read that one of the legends that inspired you is Peter Tosh. What was it about him and his music that left an impression on you?
Anthony B: Yes I was inspired by Peter Tosh. I would say first his vocal sound and then getting to learn more about him, his militant ways and outspoken attitude. He never backed down in speaking the truth. He became my champion from there.
Maliika: Do you have a favorite release from his catalog and why?
Anthony B: Yes I have a favorite. I would say the full albums in his catalog are my favorites. I look at my albums like a book so to know the full story in a book, you have to read the all the pages.
Maliika: If someone was new to your music what album would you like them to listen to first and why?
Anthony B: For the person who is new to my music I would want them to start from my first album, So Many Things. I would want them to get to know where I am coming from so they can know where I am today and where I am going.
Maliika: How do you feel about music out of Jamaica today?
Anthony B: There is still a lot of young talent fighting hard to keep the message in the music strong and positive. For the most part a lot of the music is getting too much on the negative side, which gives a negative view to our positive Jamaican culture.
Maliika: You are performing at Reggae on the River again this year. What are your feelings around this festival?
Anthony B: Reggae on the River is one of the best Reggae shows worldwide and also one of my favorites. It’s always an honor whenever I am called upon to be a part of this event, so I am looking forward to a very wonderful and joyful year. Let JAH be praised.
Maliika: Any fond memories you would like to share?
Anthony B: From the first Festival that came in the 90s. I was given the chance to feel like home and a part of the family of the promoters. To see so many people smoking herbs freely back in those days and it was always violence free.
Maliika: Anything else you would like to share with the fans?
Anthony B: Thanks for doing this interview and for giving I Man a chance to share my views.
Anthony B is performing on Sunday, August 7th at Reggae on the River.