Theory of Reggaetivity Assassin a.k.a Agent Sasco's new album is an incredible example of true talent taking reggae to another level. The album, is a cover-to-cover listen with a natural vibe that can only be described as a genuine extension of the artist. Agent Sasco who also has two hit collaborations with Kanye West, ("I'm In it") and Kendrick Lamar ("The Blacker The Berry") has released his first solo album after almost 10 years. His insight into "timing is everything" not only holds true in his unique sound but within the development of Theory of Reggaetivity. His journey within creativity will inspire you to challenge the best parts of yourself and release the worst all while keeping in mind-- life is made to be simple. Sitting down with Assassin a.k.a Agent Sasco expanded how I approach what's possible all while strengthening my reggae loving roots. Take a look at how this artists self-awareness and natural born passion, is changing the reggae game.
MM: Your sound brings me back to my childhood, being born in Southern Africa and growing up on Beenie Man and Buju Banton at every African party. Who are your musical influences?
AS: All of those names you mentioned. I fell in love with music very young. Being born in 1982 and falling in love with music at around --I don't know,1982!
MM: Haha, yes!
AS: That's where I think my sound started to develop in terms of either just what I was hearing or influenced from Professor Nut to Lieutenant Stitchie and Papa San. I think what happened is a little bit of time has gone into my sound in terms of DJ'ing as early as 3 and 4 years old. I remember one time the EMT telling me that I have callouses on my vocal cords because I've been doing it for so long--I've earned this sound. I would have to say my sound started to develop back then because of who I was influenced by as well as the amount of time I have spent just doing it.
MM: Why "Theory" within the new albums name Theory of Reggaetivity?
AS: Theory because it leaves room for expansion and to revise the theory and correct it and rework things. That's really how I look at music. I'm always a student of the music and trying to learn and evolve. There's great freedom in a theory because it says you don't have to be right or wrong-- you know!
MM: I love that, you don't have to be right or wrong!
AS: So people ask me all the time, why did I take such a risk in terms of being known as a dancehall artist and put out a full reggae album you know, why take that risk? You know the truth is... you know with a "theory" kind of thinking, its never a risk because you're not trying to proclaim it to be facts, you know what I mean. It's just straight up.
MM: In regards to there's no right or wrong. Why do you feel the timing of your first solo album taking place 10 years later feels right--now?
AS: I had to grow in many aspects from my last album release. Even recording that last album, I was very conflicted with a lot of what was going on with it and being signed to a label and trying to satisfy different requests and visions. Sometimes your vision and the other stakeholders might not necessarily be the same. After my last album being in 2007, I really felt like I need to change a couple of things and that included getting out of a label situation. If it was going to be that I was not seeing my direction. So the first part of my next album would be to change that situation, so it took me like 2 years to end that obligation with the label. Then after that, it was a lot of getting clearer within myself with exactly what I want to do and also challenging doubt and fear and all the other things and obstacles that creep in and stand in the way of creativity.
MM: I would love to piggy back off of that, because thats something I feel like we all navigate through. Me as an interviewer, I love to talk to artist or anyone from all backgrounds and find out what do you tell yourself in those moments?
When one doubtful voice is so loud in your ear and then the other voice, this feeling almost that says-- I know I can do this.
AS: Well here's the thing, like I said, I fell in love with music at toddler age. At that stage in your life you're fearless. You don't know what doubt is and the more experience you get, you start to learn how to be doubtful and you start to learn to be cautious. I've spent a lot of time trying to unlearn those things.
MM: Oooo, I love that!
AS: Yeah so this album had to take 10 years in order for me to get it done. Outside of those things it also allowed me time to work on my craft a little bit more. So 10 years worth of work has gone into this album-- well not 10 years but 10 years more! Finding musicians to work with, like I said being a lot clearer as to what I want my contribution to my art form to be from here on out. I think this is pretty much the first step into what my contribution is to be. So everything before this project and everything before now was really building the foundation for the work that I am to do.
MM: How do you feel like its shown up in this album?
AS: In the response! I've never had such a response on a album and here's why it doesn't make any sense then in that regard. This is an independent project so this is without the network of a label and that machine. This is straight up, this is just --
MM: Do you feel--here's "my theory", that because you essentially let go of all that was weighing you down and you just said, you know I am going to put something out there. That- that almost organic natural being is a reason?
AS: Of course! Of course, you know. I am beginning to learn things and sometimes you start to sound like oh its some fantastic weird science, but its all very simple. I read the secret, but its no secret in terms of we all know this but once again we have learned to be doubtful and fearful. So, when you talk about vibes -- In Jamaica we like to say "Yea man, me just feel the vibes" People do feel the vibes when the vibe is sincere and its coming from a good place. There's just a certain frequency that you're able to tap into. To quote one of my managers, past manager Donovan Germain" When your heart is in the right place." So, this project was done from a place of sincere love for the music and respect for the music with humility. No ego went into this. It was about me and some musicians having fun and understanding its about none of us. It's just about the music and its more of a privilege for us to be able to be doing this music and to -to represent so many great people that do this music. That's just it. I think people are able, without knowing all of those details to just feel the vibe.
MM: Yea, yea! It's crazy its like the seed was planted and what has sprouted from that is everything that you are saying. So they get it without knowing everything.
AS: Exactly! You know what I mean, its like getting the nutrients without seeing all the ingredients in the food.
MM: Exactly! To speak to the vibe you created within your song with Kendrick Lamar "Blacker The Berry" that song is like epic. It seems like the more you have been able to get clear and express yourself, more projects that align with that nature have come your way. Do you feel that is the case?
AS: A lot of that is once again staying committed to the music and being a student of the music and challenging yourself to always represent yourself and represent your music well. So whenever opportunities come, if you are prepared to represent your music than chances are it will be something that people will like and feel. Like the Kanye feature was straight up like winning a raffle or something. Its not like Kanye flew to Jamaica to seek me out. It was more of his team coming there to record some stuff for what was suppose to be a compilation album. I got an invitation and I went to the studio recorded a few versus and a few hooks. My responsibility at that time is to go in and record and just represent my music and that was it. You know, I left there with no expectations -- I mean you know of course you're hoping that something will get you know turn to something. It was maybe like 4 or 5 months afterwards, I'm hearing from the engineer at the studio that yo, "Kanye people and them trying to find you". I didn't know at the time what they were going to use and what they were going to use it for but that was a good development. From that you know that exposure and many people are like whoa man you're on Kanye's album you must be doing something right. And so the Kendrick feature was a little bit more direct in terms of Kardinal Offishall is a good friend of mine. The producer reached out to him to say you know they want you to put like a Jamaican vibe on this track they're working on for Kendrick. So Kardinal suggested yo " I think Assassin could do something with this. You know of course, its an easier sell because I was just on Kanye's record so we will see what he can do with it. You know they sent it, I did something and they liked it.
MM: Pulling together all of your well rounded experiences, past-present and future. What would you say to yourself 10 years ago, what are you saying to yourself today and what would like to say to yourself 10 years from now?
AS: Hmmm alright, so 10 years ago I would tell myself to take a weekend or a week or a month to search yourself and really decide what it is you want to do. Don't be uncertain about it. Don't feel it and then deny it and then wonder about it. Really decide what it is and then make every step towards that. It took me 10 years because maybe I spent 2 1/2 years trying to really wonder what is it that I'm feeling. Is it that I really want to do this? As opposed to just commit to it and just pursue it. But then, now I wouldn't change that--so that's interesting. A lot of the "missteps" if you want to call them "missteps" informed my decisions leading up to this moment.
MM: Possibly it would not be called "Theory" of Reggaetivity
AS: You know what I mean, probably I would have been too certain and too sure of myself.
MM: Hahaha yea, the Certainty of Reggaetivity.
AS: Yea, like Reggaetivitiy full stop! Yo, you better listen.... haha!
MM: Haha, right!
AS: I think, I would want to tell myself now that it all works out. 10 years from now, I would like to know that I stuck with it regardless. At the end of the day, I'm going to define my success and these days success is relative. It can only be you that will decide your success. People might always say you could have done this and you could have done that. It's important for you to define what it is and stick with it and leave the doubt.
MM: How has having a kids and a family played a role in who you are today?
AS: Huge! It put things into perspective really fast. It's a new level of accountability. Of course the responsibility that comes with it -- for me, it gave me a new perspective. There is a lot of therapy in it.
MM: Really? How so?
AS: Yea... because you might be having whatever kind of day and all the frustrations that come with being an adult these days. And then the innocence that they come with, they don't really care about all of that.
MM: Adult-ing is a different world, cause you're 33 you are not old. Relatively you are still very young. I am 31 so I get you, this adult-ing thing is a bit real sometimes!
AS: Haha-- yea! So they (the kids) are operating in a slightly different place and to be around that energy is therapeutic. It reminds you that its never that serious it never is. It's never that serious we pile on this weight and meaning to things its a lot simpler and that's how they operate. Very simple. It reminds me of being in that space again. With every moment that you spend in that space, a little of the doubt and fear evaporate because its just not apart of that space. It dreamy, its endless possibilities. I can just do this.
MM: You can almost see their talents very young, like what kids naturally gravitate towards. Which goes to show we do teach ourselves the doubt. Our talents are in us so young--so young!
AS: I know that for sure. I know it for certain. So now I'm able to catch myself you know. It's not to be mistaken for arrogance or over confidence but its just to recognize its ok. It's ok you can do it and it might not work and so what. Do something else. We just pile on all of this unnecessary weight to things.
MM: You should write a book!
MM: I'm serious, I feel and this is just my opinion it should be reggae themed of some sort so that it reaches that demographic.
AS: Well maybe I will do it in the music or maybe I can do it in a book... yea, yea!
MM: The ideal being to reach that demographic and the mindsets that could use a shift of perspective
AS: It saved my life!
MM: Thats amazing, really amazing. So now that you have a lighter approach as to how you conduct your creativity, is there an artist that you would love to collaborate with?
AS: Stevie Wonder, that's my dream.
MM: Oh we gotta make it happen!
AS: I spent about a year listening to Stevie Wonders definitive collection in my car. Everyday in my car, that would just be it-- definitive collection. Maybe more than a year, incredible, so Stevie. If thats the only collab I ever do, ever--Stevie!
MM: Alright , were going to find him. What is another overall goal you have for the 2016 year? You have done so much this year already, yet I am sure you have more on your radar.
AS: I want to be on the road with a band, my band. I have taken steps towards that already. Maybe not 2016, we might be able to debut before 2016 ends yes. But that is something to roll out fully for next year. That's definitely something I want to be doing. I started my studio in my house and I want to finish that as well. It's like building a new toy, I mean I can just imagine having a space to just experiment.
MM: Haha-- even that look on your face as you say experiment says it all!
AS: Yea, I know were are going to be able to do incredible things.
MM: On that note this blew my mind how incredible chatting with you has been. I really appreciate your time.
AS: Thank you--Thank you!
Get the new Album Theory of Reggaetivity and keep up with Agent Sasco at http://www.agentsasco.com
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