Health by Llaila Afrika]. I didn’t read much before that, maybe just the Bible and dem tings dere.
“It was really at that point that I started to read about Africa, Rasta, His Majesty, about Ethiopia and other African cultures, which led me into ancient Egypt, and I found out about the deep spiritual roots of that being the origins of even Christian belief, as some of the stories from the Bible originated in ancient Egypt. That opened me up to a whole different side of things. I started learning about India and yoga, and even tying back yoga into Africa – with kinetic yoga – seeing the postures and the walls in Egypt. I started to practise (yoga), and really focused on uplifting my spirit and maximising my spiritual potential. That has always been an individual journey,” Kabaka explained to Youthlink.
The path to self-discovery isn’t always easy. It can sometimes include fear, confusion and doubt, as conflicting aspects of ourselves battle to become one. For Kabaka, this conflict was reflected in his music. With roots in both reggae and hip hop, he often found difficulty switching between the two genres, and had to find a way to unite the two.
“People mostly think that I was rapping first and then switched to reggae, but I was doing both at the same time. They just sounded completely different, so I decided I couldn’t keep doing this. I had to try and fuse them into one. So when we did the Rebel Music EP, that was the concept behind it – the fusion of reggae and hip hop – and it has been my sound ever since. So [I took] the lyricism of hip hop [and combined it] with the melodies and vibrations of reggae music. [I combined] some of the drum pattern and grooves of hip hop with the bass line and roots vibrations of reggae,” Kabaka explained.
Kabaka showcased his musical self-conflict in Kabaka vs Pyramid, a single from his Walshy Fire- produced mixtape, Accurate. The video, which was released in August, shows two Kabakas – the deejay and the rapper – engaged in an old-school, freestyle battle.
“I was [in conflict with myself] back in the day, and that was the problem. That is why it was difficult to really approach the music from two completely different sides, although I knew there was a connection between reggae and hip hop. I tried to find those connections, just like how Stephen and Damian Marley did – them bring in the hip-hop vibe with reggae but it still feels like reggae, so that is what I tried to do, and that song (Kabaka vs Pyramid) just shows the extent to which it can be different. At the same time, it still lyrical, it still has a vibe, it’s still that Kabaka, that sense of humour is there in the song; I just try to show my versatility,” he said.
The road to self-discovery lies not only in the spiritual but in the physical. Many people wrestle with accepting their physical appearance as they are bombarded by different ideas of beauty on a daily basis and, as such, try to change it. With songs like Free From Chains and Teach Di Youths, the Campion College graduate addresses social issues of colonialism and the effects it has had on how black people view themselves. He advocates for black pride and self-love, and encourages young people to educate themselves on their ancestral lineages.
“I think Marcus Garvey talked about self-worth and is a thing that still resonate in this time. People just need to know that the bodies that we were given, were for a reason – to have a particular experience and a particular view of life through that body – and if you decide that you want to change that, is like seh you a change the plan that God or the Most High had for you in this life weh you a live. So just appreciate the gifts that you have, and there’s beauty in all things. We are all beautiful in our own way, and if people can realise that, then I think we would be much better off,” he said.