Reggae music is going through a rebirth. The new age of the genre is evolving as the culture changes, and the new generation reaches its prime.
The new wave is not your parents’ rocksteady or grandparents’ ska. Like any other genre, the reggae music industry is a derivative of the current century’s popular culture.
Abebe Lewis, son of Ian Lewis, co-founder of the Grammy award-winning group Inner Circle, has set his sights on creating his reggae legacy. He founded Abebe Lewis Marketing and Branding Group, which he uses to cultivate brands, artists and personalities. Lewis spends most of his days at the iconic Circle Studios in Miami, Fla.
With his new venture, however, he aims to unwrap layers of the culture.
In Lewis’ show, “Behind the Culture” he takes Jo Mersa and Yohan Marley (Bob Marley’s grandsons) along for the ride. The first episode features an interview with the pair following the release of their duet “Brickell (When Tears Fall),” that with a quick search is labeled on your favorite streaming app as hip-hop and rap. It’s a fusion of everything hot right now.
Caribbean America Web caught up with Lewis ahead of the first recording of the show.
The responses have been edited for clarity.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Crazy, calm and strategic.
Tell us about your journey:
Initially, I was working at Circle House Studios as an intern and assistant. I assisted with sessions for Lauryn Hill. I set sessions for Trick Daddy, Pitbull and everybody. I got into producing next. I started doing work with Trick Daddy, Slip-N-Slide and Ted Lucas. I produced two or three songs on his first album. That was before Instagram, social media and all that stuff. So, I had to find ways to get my beats out there and get my dad’s music out there. So, I said to myself, I’m going to take a step back from producing and learn marketing because I can’t sit there and have 100 beats, and then what am I doing with them. I learned marketing and that really helped me to expand.
How does being Jamaican American influence your everyday life?
My everyday life is waking up in the morning and speaking to my Rasta father first. He speaks to me spiritually, and he talks to me and really schools my brain like from the Bob Marley aspect. It’s a different thing when you deal with a Rasta. And when they talk to you, and you hear what they say, you have to listen.
The culture of Jamaicans is something. On “In Living Color,” they make fun of us, but it’s factual. “We have 10 job, man.” It is so true. My dad and I, we did everything. I was an engineer. I was the assistant. The thing was, I learned so much by doing that. In Jamaican culture, if it’s broke, you better fix it. It’s not, and “you better call the tech.” I had to actually learn how to fix a problem, and then you know how to deal with any problem, and how to take the problem to another level and fix it before it turns into a bigger situation. I can’t even explain it. It’s a Jamaican swag that was just passed on to me.
What do you like most about your culture?
Definitely, the food, strength and pride that Jamaicans have. Look at Usain Bolt and Sen. Kamala Harris. She is running for vice president.
How do you define success?
When are you the happiest?
I am happiest when I am with my daughter.