Joel Savage interviews Reggae legend Joseph Hill of Culture
Down in Jamaica, where Garvey comes from many groups and musicians started in the early seventies like the mighty Joseph Hill. But they are nowhere to be found today. Like the spirit of the Lord is upon Joseph Hill, for the past thirty years, nothing at all could stop him from spreading his message against war, oppression, crime, discrimination, poverty, racism, corruption, and injustice.
In the year 2003, he came out with “world peace” album seeking peace worldwide and rejecting war totally. On July 25, 2004, after performing live, he granted this interview to The Voice Magazine Belgian Correspondent.
Joel: I have to call you Sir Joseph Hill. Let’s rally round Jehovah’s throne. I have some few questions to ask you today.
Joseph: You are welcome. (Then he smiled)
Joel: It was in the seventies, I heard of Culture. Can you please tell what has inspired you to be in this hard music industry for all these years?
Joseph: It’s Jah (referring to God) that gives me the strength. Always feel that there is something in watch out. For myself, I love to play for the people. They are also part of my inspiration. These are what have inspired me throughout these years.
Joel: You have been singing all you life about corruption, oppression, war, poverty, discrimination, crime and so on. Were you a victim to such things in any circumstances?
Joseph: There are people I saw in comparison to various countries. Yes!yes!!yes!!! I have seen people die and not a word of justice is been said. Think of the person’s life. It is priceless. My last grief I had. There was this woman in Afghanistan, separated from the land. They treated her so bad that she and her child were eating grass.”G R A S S- grass”.(Joseph moved with sorrow spelt the word grass)
Joel: Your lyrics and beats in every song of Culture, touches and moves everyone on the road of trials and tribulations. Where do you get such wonderful rhythms and lyrics from?
Joseph: The big man that rules the earth. He is the governor.(He laughed)
Joel: You were in Sierra Leone, when the war was at its peak, with brutal activities of the rebels. Did your visit created any impact or brought a change to the suffering masses?
Joseph: Yes, my visit brought a change. When the people saw me, they don’t know what to say. They just cried and cried. You know the rebels told the government that “You should be glad that Joseph is here. If you he wasn’t here this place would be destroyed within 24 hours. Imagine. I just came back from there a few weeks ago”
Joel: I learnt that at the capital Freetown, at the guest house you lodged, there is a tree nearby, and every morning a bird came to sing, and out of the song of the bird, you composed a song from it.
Joseph: Yes’ yes!! It is true.
Joel:On July 4th, 2004, I interviewed Lucky Dube, he told me that as a friend, you are one of the best men in the music industry. How do you react to this nice compliment?
Joseph: I take is easy. That’s all.
TV: I ask the same question any reggae artist I interview. Reggae music is loved by everyone. But why is it that the music is given less attention?
Joseph: Because the truth is God’s friend. But not a lot of people are the friend of the truth.
Joel: You are following the Palestinians and Israeli conflict for a very long time and have even-even visited the Gaza strip. Who do you think is the stumbling block to this peace everyone is seeking?
Joseph; Greed, greed, greed. Because there is enough to satisfy every man’s need but never enough to satisfy no man’s greed. So greed is the stumbling block.
Joel: In one of your music, you played a song against Yasser Arafat, as the stumbling block.
Joseph: He made himself like that. He has to change his ways and the other man would change his ways. There is something called “Repentance”. When repentance meets their hearts, we shall have a beautiful world.
Joel: You successfully came out last year with the remarkable “world peace” album. What message do you still have in mind for your numerous fans worldwide?
Joseph: You know people should respect one another. To be used, abused, refused and our hearts trampled by fear and living in doubt, thinking we are living on top of the world. No, we shouldn’t live that way. We have to seek happiness, love, mutual respect, joy and justice of God around us, and peace would find its rightful place.
Joel: Thank you very much for this interview Sir Joseph Hill.
Joseph: Thanks be to Jah
Read other interviews of Anthony B, Andrew Tosh, U-Roy, Prince Malachi, Julian Marley, ASWAD, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Tutu Puoane and many others in ‘The Passion of Reggae and African Music.