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Lateral Thoughts on Life.

Inter-View.

A great interview is, to my mind, and as the name suggests, an inter-view. It’s not just one person presenting their view and ignoring the other but rather an exchange of ideas. A conversation that informs and entertains the viewer. Like a beautiful dance it seems effortless when really done well.

People will have various opinions about who is the best interviewer and what the perfect interview looks like but for me Larry King is the King. Larry King manages to always get the best and the most interesting points out of his ever fascinating guests. Amazingly he does it without the badgering and paparazzi style used by others. He is not a sensationalist, he seems
genuinely interested in his guest’s viewpoint. The guest is always the star of Larry’s show.

Oprah is also quite an amazing interviewer, but she imposes a lot more of her personality and ideology unto the interviews. Her viewers of course love that, but to me it can be a serious weakness. For example when she interviewed Tiger Woods she was visibly disheartened when he made his “Coblinasian” remarks. Instead of staying objective and probing deeper into his mind set I think she wanted to end the interview right there. Oprah’s journalistic ability to go for the jugular is not to be under rated though. Oprah made Mike Tyson cry, need I say more ?

One of the best interviews I ever personally saw was at the Calabash Festival, in 2009, when Pico Iyer was interviewed by Paul Holdengraber. The men obviously knew each other well and that enabled them to have a free flowing conversation that was a delight to watch. Holdengraber was like a Maestro, a Matador guiding the more powerful Bull, he was humble in the role of interviewer, yet he knew just how to elicit from Pico Iyer, some of Pico’s amazing experiences and insights into life. In the interview Iyer described how his home had once been burnt down and how it freed him from the limitations of writing from his copious notes. When my hard drive crashed recently I got much inspiration from remembering his positive attitude even in the face of severe loss. Pico Iyer, who is now famous as a travel writer, (and for himself interviewing the Dalai Lama), said a lot of things that were meta-physical, his points hit home, for me, on various levels of understanding. For instance he said that you get from a place, what you carry there. Simple comment yet quite profound.

Ian Boyne is probably Jamaica’s best known interviewer, aside from his long running TV show Profile, where he interviews top achievers, he also has Religious Hard Talk, where he holds debates with people of all kinds of spiritual backgrounds. He also does interviews for the government broadcast shows of JIS and he writes in the newspapers regularly. Clearly he is a
master of time management but for me his interview style was in former years quite annoying. He would always have a very interesting guest but I would be frustrated at his insistence on asking them uncomfortable questions instead of focusing on their path to success. Also Mr. Boyne at times would seem to be trying to cut in on the guests spotlight as if trying to show off that he was well read and he sometimes had an apparently condescending manner. Happily this has changed as time progressed and in his more recent interviews Mr. Boyne has always allowed the guests to be more expressive. He is a great interviewer especially for his ability to find interesting guests and for his consistently professional manner.

Winford Williams is quite good with his show On Stage where he has interviewed a wide range of musicians and singers. I like the humble approach he uses, like Larry King, where the guests are allowed to express themselves freely. Winford does seem to like stirring up conflicts though, for instance his show was in the centre of the Beenie Man / Bounti Killa beef.
Winford himself is always calm and professional and he’s had some amazing interviews over the years. Guests like Ninja Man and Billy Ocean as well as Sean Kingston and Fat Joe and Air Supply. Simply an amazing list of great interviews.

Ninja Man is probably the most entertaining local interviewee. He always uses the local patois, and he has some amazing insights on topics ranging from music, to social reform, to marriage, to religion. He once went toe-to-toe with Emily Crooks, a top journalist trying to embarrass him and he beat her at her own game. Ninja Man’s life story has been full of amazing events which he recounts in a humorous way.

Ninja Man is one of the greatest “clash” deejays to ever walk the Earth. One of the few clashes he didn’t win took place at Sting, in 2003, when Vybz Kartel punched him down before he got a chance to show his ability. This pre-emptive strike was reminiscent of Israel in the Six Day War. It is with Gaza however that Kartel is identified. The punch was to be just one
of many amazing steps on the journey of the man born Adidja Palmer. Vybz Kartel. Emperor of the Gaza Empire.

Vybz-Kartel

Vybz Kartel

Every day the newspaper uses Sex and Violence in their headlines to sell. The society buys it, hungry for more, but yet the same papers,and the same society, point fingers at artists like Kartel when they do the same in their music.

Veteran journalist Cliff Hughes, realizing that Kartel is the most influential artist in the country, tried initially to pin the heavy burden of the country’s extremely high crime rate on the slim shoulders of the Deejay. Being a father himself  “Addi di Teacher” said simply that parents are responsible for raising their own children. He said his job was to make music and make it as well as he could and that for moral advice and correction of society’s ills we would have to look elsewhere.

Kartel has always been a master of words but on this night he revealed the man behind the words. A real man, not a misogynistic cartoon. The playful moments shared by Hughes and Palmer in the Kartel recording studio were a hilarious joy to watch.

“Addi di teacha” was also “Addi di daddy” , he was a son, a brother, his older sister is a real school teacher  and is still praying and trying to convert him to Christianity, he is a citizen of Jamaica. He has to face the problems common to many Jamaicans, like being turned down for a Visa.  Kartel had questions he could not answer, he was not trying to appear perfect. “Next interview mi will answer dat one Cliff”, he said when asked if he was monogamous.

Kartel began the interview wearing his trademark shades. He was defensively shielding off a hostile world. He said it was a media backed conspiracy that was holding him up as a symbol of violence and moral decay. He felt like he was just a Gladiator fighting to the death for the amusement of bigger, hidden powers. Later, as the interview progressed, he dropped his glasses and revealed the sensitive intelligent eyes. “When the gladiators die they will be replaced by other Gladiators”, he said.

The society had better listen. Listen not just to the songs. Listen to the Man.

Don’t just view, scapegoat, and point fingers. Inter-View. Exchange ideas, Learn and Grow. Kartel said his songs are a mirror of the society. His songs will change when the society does. The direction we go in will depend on how much we listen to each other.

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November 14, 2009 - Posted by | blog, current news, Lateral Thinking, non fiction, Psychology, Strategy, success, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. Addi di Techa is di real boss! Gaza me say. At the same time, Mavado always sound good, even if he not chatting anything intelligent. So me like the two of them. Ian Boyne used to piss me off too, to the point where I wouldn’t bother watching him now. I rarely watch interviews however. Perhaps I should say never. Am not sure I have ever watched a full Larry King interview, have never watched Oprah…

    Comment by Mad Bull | November 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. I find this article very interesting. I myself was very impressed when I watched a Kartel and Movado interviews. Both men were able to express themselves quite well in a language that they were most copmfortable with. Unlike Bounty Killer who always attempts to show his mastery of the English laguage and make a fool of himself.

    I understand Kartels view about not trying to be a role model. But like it or not, the songs that we listen have an impact on our behavior.

    Comment by Greg | November 14, 2009 | Reply

  3. Excellent piece. However it would be remiss of me not to mention Jamses Lipton from “Inside the Actors Studio” and musician Elvis Costello both of whom are excellent interviewers as well.

    Comment by Polonius | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  4. Nice piece here.
    I do not think Ian Boyne is a great interviewer. Apart from that on the Kartel issue. I don’t believe he took responsibility for his actions in the interview. For the most part Hughes was too soft on him. This guy produces violent lyrics, this interview turned out to be a PR stunt for him.

    Comment by Corve DaCosta | November 19, 2009 | Reply

  5. kartel is a unique and intelligent person i love him a lot and nothing and noone can change that ugly bounty wid him half dead self chat too much

    Comment by chinnel flowers | March 24, 2010 | Reply

  6. Vybz has a cartel of messages, good or bad. Its up to you to filter what will fit you. Respect to de Ticha.

    Comment by Damian | June 10, 2010 | Reply

  7. i love you ah but yeh see when yeh aroun

    Comment by tashaique joseph | July 3, 2010 | Reply


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