Reasoning with Dre Island about NOW I RISE, the long-awaited debut from Dre Island available NOW on all digital retailers and streaming platforms.
Dre Island is one of Jamaica’s most powerful messengers. The multi-faceted singer, songwriter, pianist, and producer’s LP features the hit single “We Pray” feat Popcaan, “Never Run Dry” produced by Winta, “Be Okay” feat Jesse Royal, and “Days of Stone” feat Chronixx
RFG: What does it mean to be releasing an album of this nature in such a time of turmoil? Was it intentional to drop the album during these times; you have been speaking about this album for nearly 5 years, why now?
DI: ‘Cause the album was inspired by life of the Most High, ya know, it wasn’t inspired by no turmoil nor a crisis, or a particular situation. It was inspired from before my existence in this physical body, to who I am now in this physical body, to where I’m going. Ya know? And Jah has already given me the vision that it should be out around this time in 2020; I never even know what was going to happen in this time. I don’t sit here and give thanks for the time neither because a lot of people have been hurting. But at the same time, we give thanks for the time because we are alive. Ya know? And each moment that we live is precious for that reason alone. I will give thanks for the time and ya know this time will pass and Jah will never give his people more than they can bear so I give this album because it is the healing of the nation.
RFG: For those who have followed your career over the years, making the leap from musician, to producer, to artist, who are some of the other reggae piano players that have influenced you through the years?
DI: I have been playing piano because it’s something my household gave to me, from when I was a child with classical training. But I have never seen nor followed any “reggae piano” ya know, because the instrument have no strings attached, no division, so in any walk of life any genre and in their own culture music if them know how to play they can make the people move, and the people will be blessed in their souls, so it is pure as you see it, and for that reason and that reason I have never seen anyone do a piano, do culture music in my land, many play guitar. But I have seen ones like John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, enough of them ya know, Alicia Keys, playing piano and singing from their soul. I just know what’s mine is mine, and I was never trying to follow nobody, so I just stick to playing piano cause that was what I knew.
RFG: There are several themes through the album that tie many of the songs together. Was it challenging to connect songs and themes over a period of time?
DI: (Laughs) Surprising that you have noticed that. It was never challenging ya know. For me it was never about taking long, it’s about when is the right time, so we never late. All those themes and word play that connect — was just natural — that was just inspiration that was Jah playing his part right there and I just follow. Cause life is what it is, and Dre Island is inspired by life, so when you hear those things, it’s just natural. Like when you hear the song “Still Remain” and you hear me sing “four seasons passed and change” and there is a song that came before it called “Four Season” and you hear Jesse say “four seasons” on ‘Be Ok’, it just natural… it our life.
RFG: How did you decide which songs were right for the album and which songs were to be released as singles separately from this collection of songs?
DI: From when I created the song ‘Now I Rise’ back in 2012 that was when I, the album came to life, from there and there. That’s when I knew I wanted the album to be titled “Now I Rise,” so from when before anyone knew of Dre Island as the artist Rastafari Way, the album was created to life. Each song was easy for me to put on it, because “Now I Rise” speaks for itself. So from when I rise, it cannot be a downfall, because I don’t believe you have to go down to up. What I know is that you start from the root and shoot up, ya know, so for me choosing song was more coming from how I place the songs and what songs I put on it really came from spiritual and team effort and just vibing, and that’s why it was never a rush and we glad we never rush the release. Cause when you rush it you focus on the human and things that we feel and you don’t let the spirit have any control, so that was all natural.
RFG: You have 4 collaborations on this album and a 5th coming on the deluxe edition with Wyclef Jean. What does it mean to be collaborating with other artists, and how is it that you have become an artist that other acts are trying to work with?
DI: All of these people I do collaborations with are my brothers for real, one blood in the flesh and spirit of Jah. They are like my brothers, not from the same family household but as mi family including my Uncle Wyclef Jean. I grew up listening to his music and he is Haitian and has been working with Jamaicans from early on so we are all one people. If you is a brother and want to do a feature with Dre Island and on the same frequency with the message it’s a joy and a pleasure at any time.