What’s your philosophy of “reggae” at this point in your career? Do you think it has evolved in some way?
As the new king of Reggae Dancehall, I’ve got a different philosophy. I separate Reggae music from Rastafarianism. Rastafarianism is a philosophy based upon the thought that the Ethiopian ancient Emperor Haile Selassie I was the return of Jesus Christ, Africa is the promised land, Babylon is western countries and marijuana is the Tree of Life. This is a respectable point of view, but I do not share it and I think that one of the reasons why Reggae music declined is that we need to leave this same old story and bring the New Testimony of Reggae.
This new testimony is based on the separation between Reggae that is not solely for Rastas, so you don’t need to be rasta to make reggae. And also bring a more universal message for Africans are not the only people to suffer.
I sing for the world, not only for the Africans. I have no dreadlocks and I do not smoke ganja. People are free to do so. But not me. And, finally, I bring an open-to-all-genre Reggae as you could see in my fourth album His Imperial Majesty.
What type of music did you listen to growing up?
Well! Any kind of live music, Afro music, Jazz, Reggae, Pop music and so on. I loved Fela KUTI, Kenny G, U Roy, Bob Marley, Steel Pulse, Burning Spear, Kassav’, Jean-Jacques GOLDMAN and so on.
In what ways do you think your music and sound has evolved since you started?
When I started my professional career in 2006 with my maxi single THE ONE at Hotzic France, my music was quite good but needed more maturity and due to the means at that time, it was difficult for me to record a great album at that time. But we got the basis. And 12 years later, the head of the label and independent artist I am is proud to explode worldwide right now.
Your track “I Love You” has gained a lot of recognition and made a lot of buzz. What motivated and inspired you to write the song?
Yes, we are over 100k Youtube views with the tune I Love You. And, I wish to have a million views before the end of the year. The real success of this song is that LOVE is a universal theme. And I wanted to show that TRUE LOVE is based on being able to forgive and keeping on the way. The secret story of this song is that I was 18 years old in 1997 and two weeks before sitting for the exam to enter University, my girlfriend at that time deceived me (Laughers). A youth love affair. But instead of staying broken down by this misfortune, this story brought me the inspiration to make a song of it. In this track, I imagined the ideal woman who would accept my sincere love, something like that. So I declared my love to this woman who did not exist at that moment and a glimpse to the future of a successful marriage with her. So thank this youth girlfriend to have triggered the writing of a so internationally acclaimed track. Today, we are good friends and we laugh about it. Also, big up to Clarisse N’KRUMA who encouraged me to choose this track as promo track. She was reasonable and that is why we made the official release date show the 21 May 2018 in her club the Malibu bar.
Tell us about the process of your last album “His Imperial Majesty” What was the most challenging aspect of releasing it?
I recorded this album in two weeks at my CBRLABELS partner’s studio 360 ° in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, West Africa. And then, it has been mastered by Landr Mastering here in Los Angeles. The most challenging aspect of releasing it was my great return to music 7 years later for let’s say, from 2010 to 2017, I focused more in building my own label CBRLABELS, I wrote 10 successful books here in IVORY COAST.
So you’ve been chosen by your USA promotional label to be their champion for the 2018 Grammy Awards in World Latin Reggae Dancehall category. Are you excited? What was your reaction when you found out?
First of all, I would like to think President Stephen WRENCH of Musik And Film records closed to Sony Music to have done so. This man is a great American and he sincerely loves my music and also my attitude. He sincerely appreciates the fact that I am not showing the face of the beggar which is stuck on the common African. And I am the proof that something good can come from Africa. And, from Africa, I conquer the world. I was really surprised when he emailed me his decision to submit my album to the 2018 Grammy Awards competition. No matter if I win or not, the fact of partaking is a good deal for me and shows the quality of my music. Nevertheless, let’s wait and see.
You’ve collaborated with so many different labels and companies. What was it like working with them? But now, you’re with CBR Labels, right?
In fact, CBRLABELS is a label I founded in 2006 to produce my books, music, and films. In 2007, we got a good distribution deal with Reapandsow Music in San Francisco. President J. Gibson and his team were really good for my first album LA CITE D’OR. Then my CBRLABELS got a deal in 2009 with the Florida label dPulse Recordings for my second album SUN OF JUSTICE where Dean Capone taught me the technical aspects of distribution. Then I moved to Island DefJam Digital in 2011 to run my 3rd album L’IMPERIAL that was recently reedited last January to announce my great return to music since the 21 May 2018 with the 4th album His Imperial Majesty. So right now, I walk with Tunecore Inc for digital distribution and CDBaby for physical worldwide and also, Musik And Film for TV and Radios promotion matters. I am proud to have now a great label dealing the best American indie partners.
Where are you currently based? Are people supportive of Reggae in your town?
In Abidjan, Ivory Coast, West Africa. People love Reggae here for we have here artists like Alpha Blondy, Tiken Jah FAKOLY… and we have many reggae sound systems. Last time, we received Black Uhuru, Daddy U Roy. But urban music and Hip Hop seem at the top and my ability to mix all those genres is one of the keys to my success.
What do you think of the current state of the music industry?
As an indie artist, I defend the liberty of thought, the possibility to make music as you wish, I mean for pleasure. For I just deplore that certain productions houses try to impose their will to the whole world. However, life is a choice. So each one is free to choose how he wanna go with the music industry. Nowadays, anyone can build a strong label and boost his music even with social networks promotion. So it is up to each.
Are you working on new projects right now?
Yes. I am preparing my 5th album IMPERIAL DAY for 2020 and also I am up to create an award for engaging music to give the young generation the right way in my country.
Any collaborations or tours?
Yes. With President Stephen WRENCH, we are preparing tours. I will probably be in the USA and then Europe next January, but for the moment, I am imposing my album in my country Ivory Coast.
Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, say the new king of Reggae Dancehall is back.
What can we expect from you this year?
Do you wanna share anything with the fans and the audience before we wrap up?
Yes, I do. Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere, say the new king of Reggae Dancehall is back. And to my fans, I Love You. Thank you.
CONNECT WITH S. SPONJI LIVING ONLINE:
Artist website: http://www.sponjiliving.media
Label website: https://www.cbrlabels.ecwid.com