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Interview: Macka B on his new music, veganism and more

RIPE FOR SUCCESS: Macka B said he loves writing songs about food

REGGAE ARTIST Macka B has been one of the key players in the British reggae scene for more than 30 years.

Hailing from Wolverhampton, some of his most notable tracks include Never Played a 45, Squeeze Me and Dread a Who She Love, to name a few.

Following the release of his UK reggae chart-topping debut album Sign of the Times in 1986, the West Midlands artist’s career exploded. Amid a string of UK reggae chart-topping singles and awards for ‘best male reggae artist’, Macka became the first British reggae artist to tour Australia and the former Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia).

He has featured on Channel 4’s Rockers Road show, Club Mix and headlined successful tours all over the world, across five continents. In addition to performances on renowned global platforms, Macka has appeared in front of the late, great Nelson Mandela in Kingston, Jamaica., the largest music database on the web, has previously cited the conscious artist as “one of Britain’s most influential dancehall toasters”.

Across the inception of dancehall in the 1970s, the lovers rock boom which followed, the roots renaissance of the 1990s and the post millennium age of multimedia, Macka has remained relevant, consistently good and 100 per cent organic; that is, to say, true to himself.

AMBASSADOR: Macka B is a spokesperson for The Vegan Society

Hot off the heels of his last Peckings-produced album Never Played a 45 (2015), Macka is now back with anticipated follow-up, Health Is Wealth. Much of the project is food-related, featuring tracks such as Wah Mi Eat (remix), title track Health is Wealth and Lyrical Chef. This project includes the studio version of his viral video, Cucumba (Cucumber).

Back in March, the 56 year- old musician released a short clip on social media, in which he listed the health benefits of the green vegetable in a dancehall style. The video’s lyrics include:

“Give your body good things. Don’t be a traitor/Get the cucumber, cut it into slices/Put it in a jug of water overnight/You know what you get for a fraction of the price?/Energy drink full of electrolytes.”

This has resulted in widespread media attention from outlets such as The Daily Mail and Huffington Post. Celebrities such as US actress Tracee Ellis Ross, supermodel Naomi Campbell and designer Tina Knowles have all picked up on the Cucumba hype.

Cucumba has received breakfast show support in the UK by Nick Grimshaw on BBC Radio 1, in New York by Ebro on Hot 97FM and LA by BigBoy on iHeart Real 92.3 – but the Rastafarian did not anticipate that the video would spark a media frenzy.


“I didn’t expect anything like that, because I was just doing it to encourage people to eat more healthily and show the positive values of certain fruit and vegetables,” said Macka.

“I’m a vegan and wanted people to check out the lifestyle. We’re just doing it to try and help people. There’s
a lot of sickness going around and it can be directly attributed to what we put into our bodies. It’s about making more people aware of what they’re putting into their body, in order to help them try and make better choices.

“I’m glad that people gravitated towards it in a positive way.”

Macka B continues to release two new videos per week under the theme ‘Medical Mondays’ and 'Wah Mi Eat Wednesdays’, where he recounts the nutritious wonders of various fruits, vegetables and herbs. They have all achieved similar acclaim.

Lately, the vegan lifestyle has become more of 'a thing’, on trend with the ‘clean-eating’ movements which are sweeping the Internet and transcending barriers of ethnicity, class and nationality.

To what extent does Macka, who is also a patron for The Vegan Society, attribute the worldwide success of his videos to this new wave in lifestyle?


“That definitely has a lot to do with it. I wasn’t deliberately trying to tap into it though; I was just trying to be myself, like I normally do.

“I was going about things in a positive way and when I tried to deejay it in a Macka B style, people get into it even more,” he said.

“When I added a touch of humour into it, they loved it even more. I’ve found, sometimes, that humour can break down certain people’s defences. I’ve received messages from people saying that they’d never be a vegan, but that listening to me made them smile and eat more healthily.”

Still, deejaying about food is familiar territory for Macka B.

“I’ve talked about food from when I started. One of the first lyrics I ever wrote was called The International Menu, about how every country eats differently,” said the reggae artist.

“I did a song, about 20-odd years ago, called Mi Nuh Waan No Big Mac. When the egg scandal happened, when Edwina Currie issued a warning about salmonella being in most eggs, I did a tune about how the egg ah gi dem problem. It’s like a new thing, but not really.”


Exercise is just as important as a balanced diet and this matter is dear to Macka B’s heart. Excess Baggage, the 12th track on Health is Wealth and one that he is particularly proud of, speaks about it.

“On this track, I tell people to keep fit. I compared it to the airlines; if you got excess baggage when you’re travelling, you have to pay. Physically, it’s the same; you’ll eventually pay in some way,” he warned.

Macka, a father-of-five, practices what he preaches and has always been into sports, but now plays badminton regularly.

“When I was young, I was into every sport. I like football a lot; I was a defender. Nobody could pass me. I played cricket, volleyball.

"When you grow older, the yout’ dem will mash up your foot and all those things. So, what I play now is badminton. It’s very good! You get to train every part of your body. It makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do; in the gym, when you’re tired, you stop. Whereas, due to the competitive nature of the sport, you keep going.”

The enigmatic deejay also has a treadmill in his house to keep him active in another way.

“I love it – when the weather isn’t good, you can still walk and run,” said Macka.

“My five little grandchildren keep me quite active as well.”

Health is Wealth is out now, available to buy from all major retailers.

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