Sound the Trumpet for Bugle, King of the Underground

Bugle, Nuh Compatible interviewRoy ‘Bugle‘ Thompson is one of the world’s top underground rappers and arguably the most underrated artist on the dancehall circuit.

In the interview below, he talks about his struggle to stay independent, forthcoming album with Sly and Robbie, and latest hit, Nuh Compatible .

Nuh Compatible (above) reminds me of Usher’s Confessions . Do you see any similarities?

That’s a great comparison, but I wouldn’t say that [laughs]. A lot of people think it’s personal, but that song is just reality. 99 per cent of the population can relate to it because almost everybody has an ex.

Some girls love the hype and just want to talk to you because you drive a certain car or have certain friends and people know that’s the truth.

And women especially love the song because a lot of the time, when they want to settle down and start a family, their boyfriends are fooling around so they are left searching for the right person.

I just give thanks and feel good within myself to know that I can write a song that people want to have as a ringtone on their phone and watch on Youtube.

We put that song out in March and it’s been number one for the past three weeks on the Entertainment Report chart, which goes to show how much people really love the song.

AssassinI’ve heard rappers, producers and fans describe you as the only conscious artist left in the dancehall scene. Do you think that’s a fair comment?

I wouldn’t say I’m the only one, but at the same time, people know why they say that. I’m not the type of person to take props for everything, worse if they are props I don’t think I truly deserve. You have people like Assassin (above) who is a very conscious artist so I wouldn’t say I’m the only one.

Is the dancehall scene in a healthy state?

I think it’s better now than it was this time last year because if you go out, you will hear positive music being played and see people reacting to it.

Now, most producers are dealing with authentic dancehall, rather than hip hop dancehall and the lyrical content is stronger because a lot of the artists have realised that when you go deep with music, it might take longer to reach the people, but it stays with them for a lifetime.

Originally, you made a name for yourself ghostwriting for Elephant Man – how did you meet him?

I was introduced to Elephant Man in 2000 by producer Delroy ‘Dr Marshall‘ Harris who wanted to me to write a song, but for Elephant Man to record it.

I wrote the song and met up with Elephant Man the following Saturday at (Augustus ‘Gussie’ Clarke’s) Anchor studios. We started chatting, became friends and started travelling together.

Did you write any of the Elephant Man hits we would know?

All Out (above) was written entirely by me, but I either wrote or came up with the idea for most of Elephant Man’s hits between 2000 and 2004, which is probably his best period.

Was it a difficult decision to leave Elephant Man and try to make a name for yourself?

Yes, but one I had to make. I probably made it out of desperation because it’s either I stayed and did not achieve my own personal goals as Bugle, or leave and try to accomplish my objectives.

I’ve interviewed talented and aspiring rappers such as Jagwa who entered the business ghostwriting for dancehall stars, but were unable to breakthrough as solo acts in their own right. What has been the secret to your success?

Hard work and determination; it’s not just about talent. I am not going to be overshadowed by another person. You and I can be friends, but when I have my thing to do I will not make you stop me from doing it.

An artist like Jagwa, who was an Alliance artist, was always there with Bounty Killer. He could have recorded for anybody because people knew, liked and wanted to work with him, but he stayed behind Bounty Killer. No matter how talented you are, if you don’t have a song, you don’t have a chance.

The first time I heard Exercise (What I’m Gonna Do?) ; I was driving to Ocho Rios listening to the radio and remember thinking: ‘Whoever this guy is; he is a new star.’ When you recorded Exercise, did you know it would be your breakthrough song?

Yes, I believed in that song so much. I actually recorded Exercise for the Shawn Scott Music Group a year before Desaca released his version, but they didn’t pay it any mind, even though on many occasions I said: ‘This is the song that will give me a break, all it needs is a video and promotion.’

Earlier this year, Stephen ‘Di Genius’ McGregor released Me Alone , a track that highlights corruption in the dancehall industry. Do you agree with the opinions he expressed in that song?

In some ways. The truth is: that particular song and topic is fragile to me so I’m not going to discuss it. If you and I talk on a personal level, I’ll give you my fair opinion, but in an interview I will never, ever discuss that particular song. It is a good song, that’s all I’m going to say.

You’re currently working on an album with Sly and Robbie (below). How did you hook up with the legendary Taxi Gang?

Desaca’s studio is in the same complex as Sly and Robbie’s so I see and hail Sly on a daily basis. I didn’t know they were fans until they started telling me about my music.

They’re always encouraging me, saying stuff like: ‘You’re a good artist; don’t follow nobody; keep it positive; and you have a whole lot of eyes watching you, and please don’t let us down.’

When you hear that from Sly and Robbie, what else could you ever want to hear? That’s like Sly and Robbie giving me 10 million dollars. Those words are worth more than any gift.

Sly and Robbie, Taxi GangDo you have a release date for your Taxi Gang project?

No, we’re still working on it. I don’t know how well you know Sly and Robbie in terms of work, but them man will take two years to make one song, just to make sure it’s done the right way. If it’s not out by December, it’ll be out early in 2014.

If you had the power, what’s the one thing you’d most like to change about Jamaica’s music industry?

There are a lot of people who deserve more, but are not getting it. For example, I’ve never heard people talk about honouring Beres Hammond. These are the things that I would change.

There are a lot of artists who need respect and recognition; people like Mr Vegas, Tarrus Riley, Busy Signal and Capleton do a lot for Jamaica where music is concerned, but you don’t hear their names being called.

The Jamaican government needs to set up something where those types of people are being honoured from now; give them what they truly deserve. Teach the youths about them in schools so the youths know what reggae music is and what it is doing for Jamaica.

What advice would you give a young person considering a career as a rapper?

Hard work overcomes all difficulties. A lot of people look in from the outside and think the business is a bed of roses because artists live in a certain place or drive a certain car.

It’s not an easy road and without talent you don’t have anything. From you have that, work with it, try to upgrade and be yourself; never try to be anyone else because there can only be one Vybz Kartel, Bugle, Movado, Vegas or whoever.

What does the future hold for Bugle?

I can’t tell that [laughs]. I would need to have a higher power to be able to tell what the future holds. I don’t know, but I’m always going to be doing good and positive music, staying strong, and making sure I maintain myself as an artist. I will work hard and wherever it gets me I will surely accept and appreciate.

For more info on Bugle, check him out on Facebook and follow him on Twitter

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