Daddy U Roy, one of the other names you're known by is 'The Originator', but on your latest record, 'Old School/New Rules', in a tune called 'Dj. Phonics' we hear you paying tribute to real deejay originators in Jamaica. What can you tell us about someone like Count Machuki for example? Who was he?
U Roy: "Ah! Count Machuki (born Winston Cooper and hailed as the first man ever to speak over a record. In effect he was the first deejay, red.), was a man that I really respected a lot, because the way this man did his thing... let me tell you, you just had to listen! In that time deejays didn't used to tell a whole heap of things, they just said a couple of words here and there. Now whenever Count Machuki said his words you were just craving to hear more after that! (laughs) He was great, trust me! He was the best in the business and I always wondered why he never had a hit record because after I started recording, he did some recordings too but he never had a hit and that has always bothered me a lot."
Still, you didn't earn you nicknames just like that of course. Did you ever imagine you could have this big an impact on the style when you first started out?
U Roy: "(laughs) No way! No way at all. I had no idea that I would still be out here today doing this among young people like you. I just thought it was something that would pass after a while never to be heard of again, so it was a big surprise to me. It was a blessing that the Most High passed onto me. I also want to thank the people for endorsing me all these years. Anywhere in the world today there's at least one deejay deejaying Jamaican style and those guys even do it in their own language now."
Looking back on your career, there seem to be two real peaks in it being the period you spent at Treasure Isle and then much later your so-called comeback with Mad Professor and Ariwa. What do those Treasure Isle tunes mean now to you, so many years later?
U Roy: "Boy! That's why I said I was so surprised... When I went to Treasure Isle, the first two tunes I did for them were 'Wake The Town And Tell The People' and 'This Station Rules The Nation With Version'. The tunes had been released for about two weeks and I heard they were played on the radio a lot, but I just told myself: "Well it's just two tunes getting some airplay, the novelty will wear off again.". The reason I told myself that was because at that moment in time the deejay thing just wasn't happening. The deejay was just the guy who came to a dance, put a record on and said a couple of things. Then I heard those two tunes became number one and number two on the top ten, so I told myself: "What now? This is getting kind of serious here!". I used to have this little motorcycle at that time that I used to ride around on and wherever I would pass, young kids would come up to me, waving their hands to make me stop, telling me: "Boy, you great man! You bad man, bad!" Some weeks later I then recorded 'Wear You To The Ball' and it just joined the other two tunes in the top three, so I had three tunes in the top three positions in the top ten for six weeks straight! I could never have imagined this ever being possible. In those days the top ten was still based on the sales figures of a record. The fastest selling tunes were always my songs."
When I see U Roy, I also see a reggae fashion icon, always suited up real nice, wearing your hats. Where did that come from?
U Roy: "(laughs) Well you know I've been like that ever since I was young. When you're a young guy you always want to buy the best piece in the store, best pants, best shirt, best shoes and so on, and I grew up like that as well. With having to be one stage all the time I realised I'm no farmer, I don't raise cattle or plant food, but I have to appear in front of people so I wanted to do that in a proper way. I don't care what other people want to wear on stage but for me it's always been like this. It's not a matter of showing off either, because in the end clothes are just clothes and anyone can buy them. It's just me and my style."
I want to end the interview on a spiritual note. At what stage in your life did you start to manifest yourself as a Rastafarian and what does it still mean to you all these years later?
U Roy: "Believe me, I start to manifest as a Rastafarian when I was about twenty-five years old and to me it means the world. It's not really a religion, but it means a whole lot to me. I give thanks and praises to Jah every time. Some people will say Allah, some will say Buddha and some people say Jesus Christ and I say Jah. I know they are all one God, no matter what name you want to call him. One God created us all. No matter if you're black or white, when you cut your skin, you're going to see red blood! I respect everyone, but if you disrespect me, I will do the same to you. My parents told me: "Always respect people; no matter whether they are small or big, young or old. If they disrespect you and come up to you violently, then answer them the same. If they come up to you peacefully embrace that peace and be polite and good to these people.""