Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Robert Minott, who discusses his origins in music, goals after 30 years of creating and his newest work and collaboration with friend Dorian Paul.
About Robert Minott:
Featuring the emotionally resonant backing vocals and snazzy vocal arrangements of Minott’s longtime friend Dorian Paul – legendary for his work as a songwriter, producer, singer and arranger with The Gap Band – “Rasta Funk” sets the much needed uplifting mood of the collection with lines like “We must learn to love and care for each other/Let the music take you higher and higher/Everybody looking for the new best thing/Everybody wanna feel their body swinging. Addressing head on a time full of racial and political strife, Minott gets to the heart of the message later when he soulfully intones: “Music is love/Music is life. . .No matter your tribe or where you come from/We all one blood/Love is my religion…”
The singer, who this year marks an extraordinary 30 years since the release of his debut album Love Struck, laid the foundation for the release of Rasta Funk with two influential global hit singles. “Let’s Chill,” released in 2020, is a reggae version of a Teddy Riley penned track that was a Billboard Top 5 R&B/Hip-Hop hit in the early 90’s. Produced by Norman Owen – an influential New York based Jamaican artist in his own right – Minott’s recording hit #1 on Reggae Global Radio.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Robert Minott: To be honest, I always felt that music chose me. When I was 12 years old, I went to bed one night and had a vision of me performing on a huge stage with bright lighting – and not long after, I wrote my first song titled “Girl.” Ever since then, I have embraced the vision and worked towards making it a reality. I started writing more songs, going to talent shows and singing in class for the girls. My professional breakthrough came after I moved to the U.S. from Jamaica around 1989-90. I first moved to New York because my mom was living there but, after adjusting to a new life in America and finishing school, being more of a tropical guy, I didn’t like the weather and moved to Houston in about 1997. It was normal in those days to sing in dance halls over the reggae-based rhythm tracks the DJs were playing. They would just hand you the microphone as the instrumental parts were playing. I also did my first recording in a studio there; a remake of Ready for the World’s “Tonight.” I released it on a label called ‘Brown Sound, also based in Houston.
Review Fix: How do you fuse Your Jamaican and Atlanta heritage?
Minott: Obviously everything I do musically has its roots in the reggae and rhythmic music I grew up listening to and singing in Jamaica. However, about 15 years ago, I moved to Atlanta – a music city of my style, where I’ve been privileged to meet some of the more renowned names in the music business. There I began fusing my Jamacian heritage with the R&B/urban vibes after meeting and listening to local soul stations and attuning my ears to whatever is exciting and funky at any given time. From all those influences, I continue to feel inspired to create music that would satisfy and please everyone – songs that incorporate everything from R&B and funk to rock and country. That pulsating beat, pumping bassline, and hard hitting drumbeat of the people of Jamaica are inescapable in my life, but I love being exposed to so many great forms of American music. My music has developed as a natural progression. I never consciously sat down to create the hip-hop reggae vibe I do now. I just hit upon certain melodies and grooves and, as they evolved, I realized my music was sounding like a fusion of different styles. My years living in Texas had a great impact, as well, because I got to see a lot of live music and was exposed via concerts and radio to rock, hip-hop, R&B, blues and jazz.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Minott: It’s pretty natural on a daily basis. I may be driving around, sitting at home, or even sleeping when a melody hits me and I whip out my phone and start recording a voice memo. The wildest thing is when I’m fast asleep and I wake up at three a.m. singing a melody and jump out of bed. I have a lot of those voice recordings and, later, when I’m recording I return to them and proceed to perfect what initially came out so effortlessly. It’s almost as if the music bugs me for a while before I take the time to put a track together. It all has to make sense before the real work begins and I take that initial seed and build upon it. Once I have the hook, I then work on making sure that it matches the transition from verse to chorus. Basically, it’s ‘gravy’ from that point but I love the whole process. Constructing the lyrics for a verse can take a day, week or a month but every moment is satisfying and depends on the vibration I’m getting from the song. Once I get all of this done, I call my producer Kirk Bennett (aka “Kirkledove”) and share what I’ve been working on. I give him an idea of the melody and the type of music I’m hearing for that vibe. He’s very instinctive and knows how to incorporate my sonic vision into the tracks he helps me create. We go back and forth fine tuning quite a bit.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Minott: Just general life situations, observing the way people behave and what goes on around me all the time. Sometimes things come to me out of the blue. That’s how the whole “Rasta Funk” thing happened. I was home just watching TV one day and I suddenly felt a melody in my head. Hence, I started writing the melody and the lines “rasta funk, keep you jumpin’’ hit me and I liked it. It was probably only a matter of time before all those elements came together for me. Being Jamaican and living in America, it presents the best of both my worlds, mixing funk, jazz, blues and Reggae.
Some of the tunes are more personal to me, like my recent single “Can’t Hold Back,” which was about a young lady I met who strung me along and played with my emotions. The song came naturally to me as I was flying to Jamaica one day. The melody hit me, I called Kirk and he invited me to this home studio and we ran with it.
Review Fix: What singers do you look up to the most?
Minott: As every Jamaican who does Reggae, Bob Marley’s music has had a huge impact on my music. However Dennis Brown and Burning Spear have been equally influential on my music and I still get chills when I listen to their music. I also love Jamaican dancehall legend, Shabba Ranks, and Reggae and dancehall DJ, Yellow Man. As for American music, it’s wide ranging, from R&B legends Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and the Temptations, to country greats Shania Twain and Kenny Rogers.
Review Fix: How has COVID affected your art?
Minott: As traumatic as 2020 was for so many people, I think for many artists there was the silver lining as it allowed us the time to reflect and work on creative projects that might not have happened with the usual busy schedules and distractions we otherwise have. While making sure to keep my family safe and healthy, I had some extra time to put what I call the “Rasta Funk” saga together. It’s also the year when I connected with Hellmut Wolf (of Wolf Entertainment) which is now the record label that I’m signed to. I met Hellmut through my long-time friend and collaborator Dorian Paul and Hellmut is now also acting as my manager and executive producer. During the lockdown, I did a lot of song writing and most of the album’s songs were constructed during that year. Since I also work as a business consultant, it’s hard to say how much I would have gotten accomplished musically if I had been caught up in my regular day to day life schedule.
Review Fix: What does music mean to you?
Minott: Music is basically my hideaway, my getaway. When I’m listening to music, it helps to distract me from thinking about anything negative that may be going on in my life or in the world. It’s like an escape; the one constant bright spot and focus that I can count on in my life. I live and breathe music. No matter what’s going on, I can lock myself in a room with music I love and it instantly transports me to another place. It’s very therapeutic as well. Some people go to psychiatrists with their troubles. I can turn Reggae on and it heals me. Whatever problems I’m going through, music helps to soothe or erase them.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Minott: I describe my music as Reggae fusion with elements of R&B, Rock and Country. It’s a blend of all those genres, with Reggae at the foundation. My songs are played mostly on Reggae stations but also cross over to hip-hop and R&B stations. Sometimes I like to just call it ‘Reggae Pop’. At the end of the day, it’s Robert Minott Music!
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Minott: Live shows are where it’s at for me. I love performing for fans and always make sure to give them a great show. When I’m in the studio, I have time to think things over and perfect everything and, if I choose, sing the song a million times to get it right. But on stage, I’ve only got one shot and I let them have it. Onstage I’m free to perform the songs in different ways and interact with fans. I can respond to whatever they request and be spontaneous. I always try to give them what they want and a 100 percent of myself. It’s all about connection and communication. I talk to the audience, dance with them, joke around with them, and make sure we’re all having a good time. When you come to my show, you get a party atmosphere. I love not having to be perfect.
Review Fix: What inspired your latest single, “Rasta Funk”?
Minott: “Rasta Funk” is what I’d describe as ‘feel good music’. It’s all about spreading love and caring for each other – a message the world needs now more than ever. It’s about putting positive vibes into the world via a fusion of all those styles we’ve talked about. In the song I mention people in the street, and going to the beach smoking herb, which is a natural plant of course. Nothing processed, all authentic, just like my message of love. Both the herb and the song are good for higher meditation, in my opinion. I don’t want any more wars in this world and believe that, if we’re elevated to this level, we can learn to love and care for each other and let the music take us even higher.
Review Fix: Why does Funk still matter?
Minott: The best way for me to describe this is that Reggae is a ‘feel good’ music, whereas Funk is all about the ‘groove’. Funk matters because it’s one of the great roots of American music. Everything comes from funk for me, from George Clinton and Parliament to Bootsy Collins and The Gap Band. Funk is the root and everything else is the stem and the branch from there. I think everyone who does groove oriented music now draws and emulates from past artists who showed us how to do it. There’s no way anything we can dance to now can be disassociated from that beat and those rhythms of years ago. I had the pleasure of working with George Clinton and learned a lot about these powerful connections.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the rest of 2021?
Minott: Basically I’m looking forward to bigger things musically and lifting my game to its heights. I’m always about making better music and spreading it across the globe. Next, I am performing on September 18 at the Wave of Love Festival (WOLF), which is being broadcast all over the world featuring artists from ‘Wolf Entertainment’, as well as associated labels. Wow! Talk about spreading love through music! I also just released a new single “Yuh Mek Me Feel Good,” and am excited about how well it’s doing worldwide. Music is my life and I’m always creating new stuff. My ultimate bucket list goal? Collaborating with Stevie Wonder!
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Minott: I would like to express my ultimate goal for our world. That is that we all come together to make the world a perfect place for everyone to live, no matter what color, race, or creed we are. When I imagine a perfect world, I imagine a world filled with the love of music. Where there’s no more war, hate, or killings. Music can transcend all of those terrible negative aspects of humanity. When someone goes to a concert, he or she is paying attention to the artists. They’re nor worrying about their differences with other fans or what may divide them politically or religiously. They’re simply there to enjoy the music. My mission is this; love and unity through music.
Review Fix: Where can people go to find out more about you?
Find Out More Here:
Fan page- https://www.facebook.com/RobertMinott82
Personal page – https://www.facebook.com/robert.minott.10