Jamaican native I Wayne has taken a versatile path to the top of reggae, mastering both reggae and dancehall rhythms, and sometimes a fusion of the two. His newest album, Life Teachings, debuted at #5 on the Billboard Reggae Chart. I Wayne, who was born Cliffroy Taylor, has remained true to the tradition of roots reggae music, and will uphold that standard Nov. 5 at the Reggae Culture Salute in Brooklyn, a large-scale reggae concert produced by the Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music. Caribbean Journal Arts talked to I Wayne about his music, the Salute and how he moves between different worlds of rhythm.
What are you working on right now?
Working on some new rhythms – a lot of rhythms, and writing some new songs.
How much does your music change from album to album?
Not really – it depends on the rhythm. The flow of the music depends on the type of rhythm – whether it’s a reggae beat, or a dancehall beat.
Is it hard to move between, and sometimes fuse, reggae and dancehall?
It’s not hard, and it’s not easy, because it’s a lot of different rhythms, and my voice changes to cover a lot of different types of vibes and moods – but I’m very flexible, very versatile.
How much has your music developed over the years?
I would say it hasn’t changed much, because the roots vibe is still there. But I see a type of fusion, to keep up with the dancehall flavour. The unchanged roots is still there, but the tree adds branches. It’s advancing, but not really changing.
How much do reggae and dancehall interact with one another?
A lot. I would say a lot, because they’re so close. One of them is a type of vibe, but you can’t keep it all the same – whether it’s reggae or dancehall.
You’re performing at the Reggae Culture Salute in Brooklyn in a few weeks. Can you talk about that show?
It’s a type of show for the Coalition to Preserve Reggae – they have the right coalition, the right music, which is reggae music. It’s all about goodness, about life teachings, about sharing knowledge with the children, about where we are and what direction we’re going in.
How much do you think your music will continue to grow?
It will only get better – not for the worse. Because I’m keeping it real, and I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just continuing, advancing, and getting better.