Monday, April 22, 2024

MONDAY MAN: DJ Rico true to his roots


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RICHO JEAN-MARIE may not always call to mind half of the events of the prior week, but he sure can recall the first time he took up a microphone and began to spin on the wheels of steel.

It was about 17 years ago and the place was Lioness Den, a bar then located in Nelson Street, The City.

At the time, he was just a 15-year-old attending St George Secondary School, but he had a deep love for music even then, largely through the influence of his uncle Wayne Jean-Marie.

The teenager also had a fascination with being a doctor. However, spending quality time with his uncle whenever he returned to Barbados from New York changed that goal.

Jean-Marie, who is more popularly known as DJ Rico Love, recalled that for hours on end he and Wayne would listen to recorded live sessions from a sound system out of NY called Massive B.

“I would listen to this music and get a fascination with it,” he reminisced during an interview with the DAILY NATION at his Bridgetown home.

He and a friend Emanuel “Bolo” Bonnett, whose mother owned Lioness Den, linked with another aspiring MC, Henderson Furball Lucas, and although still schoolboys, they formed the group DJ Danger Zone.

They weren’t paid for the first gig but that didn’t matter as they were gaining experience and exposure.

Soon the friends began to land gigs outside the bar and their hobby became a serious business. Their first major “play out” was in the Reggae Lounge and this ballooned into many things, including promotional cassettes and CDs.

“People started to invite us to do parties, even though we were still in school,” said Jean-Marie. “From there, Fur started to take me in the Penthouse to feel the atmosphere and at that time I was selecting the music for him.” 

But things weren’t at all easy. Laughing out loudly, Rico recounted how sometimes he would work and be hoodwinked – whether it was being short-changed or receiving no payment at all for hours of work.

“Eventually it grow but, you know, it does be a journey because you does got that little time when nothing ain’t going on,” he said. “People would want to give you work but they already got the big dogs . . . and for the youngsters it would be more difficult, but we had to just take our time.

“Then Lil Rick and Father Crab and them tek we under their wings. They would let we start the dub before they came at prime time. Then we went from there to Lava Ground – a couple free jams and the thing grow.

“Sometimes we didn’t go to do free events, but it would end up that way. Promoters give you a lot of runaround. At the end of the dance they duck out and gone or even before the fete end. But on the account that you play well, you get recognise from other people.

‘We looked at it as we weren’t playing for the body that hire we, we playing to get another job because within the crowd there is another job. You just got to play well enough to get people to recognise that.” 

He added that the lack of respect did not bother him at the time.

“I didn’t feel no way because I had a passion and drive for the music. I did love the music more than the money ’cause sometimes a week gone and I still had the money there untouched. But it [respect] grow and grow until it manifest into something great.”

When the 32-year-old speaks about this manifestation, he means that after all the good and bad times, he is now one of Barbados’ most popular disc jockeys.

In fact, DJ Rico Love is now internationally known and has a fledging fan base, particularly in Canada, Guyana and Jamaica.

Still, life has not been all rosy. One constant hurdle has been some people’s prejudice regarding his home base of Beckwith Street. However, the father of two said that with support from good friends including his biggest champion, girlfriend Jamilia Reece, he had countered this negative attitude with success.

“When people generally meet me they are surprised [because] they looking for a violent person, they looking for a rowdy person, but that is not what they get; they getting a different person,” Jean-Marie said.

“They got ’nuff people that live in high society and does get on worse, so you can’t judge a person by the community they living in.

“The ghetto isn’t as bad as people think. When you live in an area like this, some people done got the idea of what you are and what you are going to be, so people would be like, ‘There is no help for them. He gine be a criminal or she gine be a hooker’. That is them idea, but good things come from bad areas all the time.

“I love [The City] ’cause it makes you stronger, hungrier; you want to prove a point – to show them something different.”

Jean-Marie has since branched out from strictly mixing music to promotional work – ads and voice-overs – and this year he is making moves to get into producing, following in the footsteps of DJs turned artistes such as Hypa Sounds and Jagwa.

He made it clear that though he might now be seen as “Rico the businessman”, “Rico the DJ” was not going anywhere.

“DJing is my life, music is my life. That is how my girl does eat, my children does eat, my friends around me does eat, so this is life.

“Till this day I still get that feeling of butterflies when I stand in front a crowd with a microphone in my hand and wonder what I could play right now or what I could do to move these people. Sometimes you can move the five people in front of you but the other 100 or 200 behind them ain’t moving, so when I hold a microphone I does transform.

“Music is my passion, music is my drive, music does bring out emotions you didn’t know you had. Music is something amazing,” he said. (SDB Media)


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