In November 2010 I recommended the wicked mixtape „Umanizm 2“ by dancehall artist Original Uman from Belgium. It is really hard to find information about him in the internet, that’s why I have asked the man himself. Here comes the story of Original Uman and please make sure to check the wicked dubplate on the „Sleng Teng Riddim“ at the end.
When it all starts
Original Uman was born in Brussels, Belgium, where he still lives today. He studied art (painting) at Brussels’s Royal Academy, but he has always been into music. „In the early 90s I was part of the 9mm collective. At first i was a member of De Puta Madre, who are famous pioneers of the Belgian Hardcore HipHop scene. Later i was part of a group named Lickweed.“
The Arlequin record shop, Brussels’s reggae specialist for more then 20 years, has been two streets away from Original Uman. „I grew up hanging around there, listening to music and especially Reggae and HipHop.“ Impressed by the music Original Uman and some friends started a radio show, which led them to the foundation of the Bass Culture Soundsystem in 1995. At that point Uman shifted from HipHop to Reggae. „Since I had a sound, I had more and more opportunities to develop my deejay skills and i naturally got more and more involved in the Reggae scene.“
Original Uman (c) Stijnn Coppens
Mixtapes, social networks and Dancehall Punks
Has it always been your plan to be a Reggae artist and to live from the music?
Original Uman: Well, there must always be a way to put food on the table and a roof over your head. I spend my days recording music, doing radio shows, dubplates and thinking of the next tune. I also try to keep active as a promoter. It isn’t always easy to do everything you like to.
As far as I know you have released some tunes for the Paris based label Heartical Records, Belleville Records and some more singles, but an album is missing, still.
I released an ep on BMG in 2002 named „Original Uman“ that got distributed in Belgium and France. Five years later I released the accoustic album „L’aventure c’est l’aventure“ on PIAS but that one really got no exposure, due first to the music business which is getting really confused with all that downloading thing, and second to the label who didn’t do the work.
Now I’m recording my new album which is planed to be released early 2012. I keep one recording singles for producers who wants to work with me, maybe there will be a Grime RMX version of „Umanizm 2“ and I am thinking fo „Umanizm Vol. 3“.
There are 28 unreleased tracks on your mixtape „Umanizm 2“, so you could have released a full album already.
The mixtape format is something special. It isn’t aimed to sell, so I can drop on any riddim I want. It is really „up to the time“, right in the hype. As a deejay you need to do such exercises and drop hot tunes on hot riddims. That’s how you get sounds to cut your tunes and play them at the dance.
I come from the soundsystem scene. So it is important for me to be played by selectas and to cut dubplates and specials. Plus, making an album requires involvement from different sides which sometimes slows down the process. A mixtape is something you release on your own. I can’t wait for the industry, I got to stay active, so I record tunes and tunes …
„Umanizm 2“ is subtitled „100% Dancehall Punk“. For me Dancehall and Punk are two movements which are completlely different. How do you combine them?
Dancehall and Punk are as far away from each other as Kingston and Brussels, actually, and that’s exactly wat I mean. I grew up on my own background and intend to make music my way. I have a lot of respect for the music and the culture that inspires me. I give my own version of it a version that sticks to my reality. Now why I use the word Punk is because I feel more related to the punky Reggae days than to the bling bling era. I always liked the idea that Reggae was a music with a spirit of resistance and a level of consciousness.
Since it is hard to make money from record sells nowadays, would you say that spreading a mixtape into the social networks is a good way to get bookings?
To release tunes and put them on soundcloud, on mixtapes on youtube, to spread them via twitter, facebook and other social networks is a thing that defenitely works. It keeps your name on the map and in the producer’s and promotor’s mind. So yes it is a good way to get bookings.
Where can interested parties find you in the www jungle for bookings and dubplates?
I’am easy to find on facebook, myspace, youtube, soundcloud, twitter. Just google „original uman“ plus the name of the network.
Original Uman – Ganja Dubplate (Sleng Teng)