One of the biggest tunes of 2013 was Angola – the debut single byJah Bouks. The previously unknown 38 year old from St Thomas previewed his cultural anthem on the TV show Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall. Amazingly, his first venture in a professional studio yielded an island-wide summer smash.
With its Afrocentric message over a remake of the Wailers’ Soul Rebel rhythm, Angola confirmed that unapologetic old school roots reggae is still popular in Jamaica. Jah Bouks joins the ranks of Junior Kelly, Glen Washington and Beres Hammond (who gets a mention in the song) as a singer who has blossomed in later life.
Reggaeville linked up with Jah Bouks at home with his mother and manager Zyon Panton to discuss the soundtrack to an eventful year.
On his first musical experience aged 12
“It was in Winchester – the little community where I was born. There was this song by Tracy Chapman “I’m sorry, is all that you can say”. [Baby Can I Hold You Tonight] I went up there, sang this song and I won something. Box of beer. Man didn’t drink beer in those times!”
On the music in his family
“The musical blood used to come from both father and mother because my mother can sing. But my father is a man who would go on like he was a Rastaman and used to play a sound named Black Atani. In that time there was this Idren named Welton Irie and there was Yellowman and those type of warriors and from those times we used to catch those vibes.”
On getting the name Boukie – which evolved into Jah Bouks
“My father went to see a movie where there was a brethren in it named Suzuki – and it was pure jokes Suzuki would give that made everybody in the movie laugh and all the people in the venue. So when the show finished and everybody came out with a bellyful of laughter and talking, he decided “Boy, Boukie mi a give my son name. If there is a boy pickney him a go get it”. I found there were a couple more Boukies round the place so I did the rightful thing – I just added the “Jah” to it and just fixed it up as Jah Bouks.”
On having his mother as manager
“She was the first person to take me into the studio professionally and get the song Angola professionally done. It was she who first loved it and said “We want everybody fi hear that song yunno”.
When she hears a thing she will talk about what goes on. And I will listen to her and correct if there is something to correct. I’m not saying anything she says I have to jump and go do it! But she talks rightful things and I have to go deal with it.”
On becoming Rasta
“I saw all my idren knot up and said “Eh – someone fi look to, yunno”. A Rastafari just tells you “It feels like you can’t go round the system. You can’t go round it. I’m going make something. I’m going to put something out there.” You like how that person looks or wants to look. So that Rastafari just put one out there calm and collected and I said “That’s how mi fi look. How mi fi look royal. How mi fi look natural”. So I see the ones that knot up their heads and just follow Rasta because of how some look and how some go on.”