MOBO Interview | Watchman [Gospel Hip Hop Pioneer]
Describe Watchman in 3 words
That's easy, I've spent so much time discovering me and who I am. Transparent, strong and weak, it's a paradox, I know. I’m more than three words, but that's just me.
Tell the MOBO fans about your music.
Well, my style of music is "Contemporary Gospel Reggae". Having experienced a life common to so many young people today, I see myself as a "Music Minister". Truth be told, being able to meet physical and emotional needs, as well as spiritual needs, in a relevant and practical way through my music is what I am all about. Many times I'm asked "what's in it for you big-man?", I turn around and say to them "you". They find it hard to believe that someone would genuinely care for them without wanting anything in return. The truth is my life has gone from crime to Christ, Prison to Praise and HMP to Ph.D. Like Moses, I believe I was trained in the camp of the enemy so I would know how to fight the enemy and deliver God’s message through my music.
Why the name Watchman?
Whilst in custody awaiting trial in 1991, the Lord spoke to me through Ezekiel 3:17:
“Son of man, I have made you a Watchman for the House of Israel, therefore, hear a word from my mouth and give them warning from me”.
On hearing this word, with tears in my eyes, looking up to Heaven, I said: “Lord, I don’t understand”. I closed the bible and opened it again. This time, it opened onto Ezekiel 33:7. To my amazement, it read the same as the above passage of scripture. It was at that time that I answered the call and took on the name Watchman.
When did you start delivering your style of music?
I started on the Gospel Circuit in 1993. My style of music was not well received at the time and I had a lot of religious barriers and opposition from the church to break down. But praise be to God that I'm still standing more than two decades later. Hallelujah!!!
Are you inspired by mainstream Rap?
Most definitely! It's not my main source, however, it plays a vital part in what I do; in the sense that God gives gifts to all and they are all so unique to the individual, so in that way we can learn and be inspired by each other.
Describe one highlight of your music journey so far.
I can truly say that every opportunity God has given me, whether big or small, has been a highlight for me. However, I must say recording my latest album "Timeline" in Jamaica, the land of Reggae Music, was a big highlight for me. How many UK artists, not just Christian, can say they’ve recorded an album in Jamaica? Obviously, I’m not talking about the ones who live there [Laughs]. I guess I'm just blessed.
You’re a major pioneer of Gospel Rap in the UK. Do you feel you are appreciated for this?
I'd like to think so [Laughs]. I think I'm recognised more than appreciated, but it's all good.
Rewind 20 years, what would you do differently as an artist?
I would definitely learn more about the music industry. I think a lack of industry knowledge was a major pitfall for many artists back in the days. We knew nothing or very little about what we were actually getting ourselves into when we signed on the dotted line and stepped out on that platform.
Have you ever been nominated for a Mobo?
Yes, in 1998 I was nominated for a MOBO.
What is your favourite album?
My first studio album, Contemporary Christian, is a personal favourite for obvious reasons.
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