Q: “Above the Wicked” is a reggae album, infused with Afrobeat, R&B, Dancehall, and Hip Hop. Some of your songs explore the theme of love and relationships while others explore the theme of self-love or confidence. Basically, the entire album is the epitome of positivity. What made you title the album “Above the Wicked”?
DESH.DUBS: The title came about because of the song I did when I was making gospel rap years ago. I made a song called “Above the Wicked.” I meant literally good or God—over evil or the devil. I have done three solo albums since then but each time this song was overlooked or forgotten. This time “consciously” I decided to re-record it and made sure it is not only in the album but also it is the title of the album. I just hope I have managed to demonstrate in this album that no power can withstand love. Love is always supreme whether you are loving or are being loved, you are doing good to others, which is always positive. Love is an “above the wicked” act. Love loves everyone and inspires, so they say. That’s what this album is all about. By the way, I just want to give a big shout-out and solidarity with the people out there singing about positive stuff—honesty and love, in general. It is needed! You know, there are a lot of lunatics who are, unfortunately, possibly driving drunk, promoting negativity and preaching destruction through art with the big corporation budgets behind them. So, to those promoting hope, goodness, kindness and integrity: God bless you. Keep up the good work I say to them. Love is uppermost, it is “Above the Wicked” mi se!
Q: The sexy saxophone, your smooth vocals, and the harmonies in “Hold You Down” makes the song so romantic and intimate. Anyone can feel and hear the love in this song and would wish to have that type of connection with someone like expressed in the song. Where did you get the idea/inspiration to make such a deep and romantic song?
DESH.DUBS: I normally write my own songs but on this song, it was a combined effort with Ariel, the artist I featured on it. He is one of the artists that I can relate to on a professional, personal and musical level. Everything in this song comes from our personal experience, which is how we both create. We’ve seen this type of romantic relationships happen to our mothers, sisters and aunts. We analyzed and we talked about that and decided to write about it. As for the other production stuff, the song was produced by Homage Production and engineered by Marcel from Mo Sound Studio. I must say Ariel helped me with putting the song in order with his contribution. I am actually humbled but happy that you understood the essence of the song, which means we managed to get where we wanted creatively.
Q: Tell me about your overall experience in the making of this album (emotionally and physically).
DESH.DUBS: Creating this album was simply getting into a studio and collaborating with different producers and very specific artists I like. It was like sitting down and watching what happens when our respective talents and styles blend into an album. For me, it was like a chemistry lab experience, combine some stuff and wait and see what happens. My creativity is like—write first, then try to fit the lyrics in a pattern, melodies or rap flow. I always write stuff. I still have an old fashioned notebook in my bag or pocket. I always find dope stuff in there whenever I get stuck with ideas. For me, it is lyrics first and then comes music. On this album, I have worked with producers from Zimbabwe, Australia, France, the USA, and the Netherlands. Thanks to the internet. It was very easy. Laying my vocals: Normally, I don’t like a crowd of people in the studio when I am laying vocals. It’s usually just me and Marcel the producer and engineer. I am not the type of artist that brings liquor and weed to the studio—it works for some, not for me. This way I find it easy to focus on the music and do what I need to get done. i don’t smoke weed, by the way. No judgement intended.
Q: You’ve been making music for years. What has the road been like for you before and after the pandemic?
DESH.DUBS: Before the release of this album, nothing much was going on musically. I concentrated on my postgraduate studies. So, when the epidemic later came, I was not very active musically anyway. Where I am, in the Netherlands, we still have a night curfew. In fact, we are still in some kind of lockdown—shops, bars and venues are all closed. Things are slowly opening. For me, it is a normal life. I go to work, I am still writing stuff, I am still recording. Of course, we are missing the live shows. I can see the epidemic has affected many people negatively. I am a bit lucky in this sense. I hope things will get back to some normality soon, people are getting fed up.
Q: Who is one person you absolutely want to work with and why?
DESH.DUBS: This is a tricky one…I like artists who combined their ideological views with their music like Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Dead Prez, and Immortal Technique, to mention but a few. As much as I am a fan of a lot of artists, I don’t think I have one specific artist I want to collaborate with at this moment. I love what Lous and The Yakuza and Greentea Peng are doing, though. These two for me represent something deeper than just music. Of course, I like Buju Banton, Chip Fu, DAS EFX, Busta Rhymes, and Wyclef. But the collaboration with Lous and the Yakuza can be the “one” I think. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because of her stance on the issues Black people face in Europe such as everyday racism, discrimination, etc. I respect her fight for an open, tolerant society through her music. I would like to work with her.
Q: This album is amazing and I love how it’s evident that a lot of thought, heart, work, and emotion went into it. Do you have anything you want the people to know as they are listening to “Above the Wicked”?
DESH.DUBS: First of all, thank you for your kind words. I know my basic message sounds cliché, but I will say this…we should try to understand each other and have fun together, now! It doesn’t matter what race you are. I doesn’t matter what religion you are. If you want to be part of this positive movement, you just need to have a heart. This music I am doing is all about self-love, confidence, self-determination, responsibility for self and love. On the music business level, all I can say is, I barely know what I’m doing for the rest of 2021. I’m just excited about this project I have just released “Above the Wicked,” really excited. I hope more people catch the vibe and enjoy it. Lastly, one thing I know is I want to continue doing this music thing and I know it’s worth the energy. So, let’s just see how that works.
Interviewed by Taylor Berry