There is nothing like home-cooked Jamaican food. It's after 5 a.m. at the 22nd Rototom Festival in Benicàssim, Spain, and the only true West Indian food vendor thought he was done for the night until he reopened for singer Siccature Alcock, b.k.a. Jah Cure. Having toured Europe for over a month, Jah Cure finally got the taste of Jamaica—ackee and salt fish and rice and peas—he had been longing for when he pulled back the tarp of Street One Jamaican Food. With the golden nuggets of ackee in his system, Cure was charged up to take every picture with fans who caught a glimpse of him. Which, to be honest, wasn't too difficult as he was wearing a crisp promotional T-shirt for his new album, The Cure.
2015 has been a pivotal year for Cure having enjoyed a successful three-week run at the top of Billboard’s Reggae Album Chart this July. His new release on VP Records shows the evolution of a career that started with roots reggae and lovers rock. Cure’s musical signature is punctuating passion with his raspy voice. He was mentored by the great Beres Hammond, an icon of reggae music’s late ’80s/early ’90s golden era, and Capleton, another reggae and dancehall veteran, gave Jah Cure his name. Cure’s musical lineage is certified.
On stage at Rototom, Cure's energy was kinetic—whipping his dreadlocks and swaying his body through dance reminiscent of Bob Marley. The international market is new territory for Jah Cure. This was not the core reggae and dancehall community that birthed his career in 2000. Jah Cure’s new audience is attracted to his welcoming demeanor and his versatility. His cover of John Legend’s “All of Me” is arguably better than the original. He added another notch in his belt of covers, putting his spin on Whitney Houston’s “You Give Good Love.” Such versatility has earned him a fan base outside of the U.S. and Caribbean, and now in Spain, his second home.
Is this your first time performing in Spain?
[I] performed in Barcelona and Valencia in the past.
What is the reception like here? Generally speaking, an international audience can understand a singer more than a DJ, who is known for speaking in heavier patois.
When you’re a singer, and not a singjay, you have to use proper English. You automatically talk how you sing. You’re gonna talk to the fans, “Good morning. How do you feel?” I like this because I am a world singer, I want to reach out to everyone. I am for everyone. [Someone] says, “Oh, I don’t like reggae, but I like this guy!”
Have you ever found that sometimes they weren’t able to connect with you?
No. Never. I could feel them. I know they are feeling me and I’m giving them all of me. I have no time to hold back. This is so simple, my friend. Give! Keep pushing and they will push back. People need energy. Science teach you, or whatever laws of physics, that energy stays. It transfers from one party to another. Just like the plants, you breathe it. [Lights his spliff.] Energy, this is how it works.
[A Jah Cure acquaintance interrupts, followed by a Rototom production staff member who offers Jah Cure a ride on the VIP bus back to the hotel. He replies, “I’m not ready yet. I’m gonna chill at the festival because this is my last show before I go home. So I can relax.”]
Your career has been nurtured by Capleton and Beres Hammond. Do you still consult with them?
Of course! Every day. Beres Hammond is my father, my mentor. I should have sing a Beres Hammond song in my set, but I sing a piece of Capleton.
Tell me a little bit about your experiences recording this album.
Well, what really inspired me on this album is a brother called Cecile Barker (SoBe). They put out an album with me—never did an album launch, never gave me a copy, and even took my name off of the production, claiming that I owed them physical money because they aren’t in the U.S. They didn’t give me justice on the album, but that’s fine. I was so hurt.
I’m sorry to hear that.
And I said, you know, look what I did, let someone executive produce my album, taking my vocal and do what they wanna do. When I was in Japan 2013, I bought six copies for the first time for myself. It is a shame. This is the worst thing you could ever do to me. Then I said, you know what, I will never sing another album for anyone else. I am producing my own material. And I said I am going to make an album that’s better than the last one. This album is an example of showing them what I’m gonna do. When I make this label I’m just gonna flush the system with good works because I’m in charge.
So you handled all the production?
Yeah I executive produced it. I spend the money. My pocket! I didn’t buy a big car this year. I was gonna buy myself a nice Bentley, I deserve this, I been in the business for year, I’m saving. I said, “Freak that!”
But you never executive produced any of your previous albums, so this is a big move for you.
No! Never! Yes, I become the CEO of Iyah Cure Music and I am the boss. I am in charge just like Jay Z. And with the label stepping up, I will also help other artists and produce young acts.
How was it balancing both roles as an executive producer and an artist?
I love it. I’m not lazy. A lot of artists is lazy, but I find a pleasure doing it. I find such pleasure doing it. I am just so passionate about it, that’s what makes me win in this album.
What excited you the most about your approach this time?
When I go in the studio with my half pound of weed, sit down, and watch the musicians play, I feel like back in the day when reggae was. Because nobody is doing that. This is how they produce: A man call a guitarist today and he play his part. Tomorrow they call the bass man, they play a little bit. Add up and mix together.
I call everybody [pounds on table with lighter], and I watch them. I buy them lunch. I bring my chef, and I have my chef cooking outside on an open fire. When musician is playing, porridge is boiling. We frying, we cooking, my chef and everybody has food. I have weed. I have drinks, and I am just watching my money spent. I feel like a boss! I like it! I love it! Like it is an understatement.
You get what you put in.
I’ve been spending and people say, “Yo, you’re over budget.” I said, "I don’t care, I will make this 10 times fold."
But look at the results. You mentioned Barcelona being one of your favorite places. What made you feel like this can be your home too?
Anywhere I can get good food, good weed, and watch football, I’ll live there. I can watch my favorite players and the team that I love. I think I would move there just for that.
So then if your music wasn’t really…
—it’s not even about my music because a lot of people in Barcelona they don’t know me like that. People will see me. I’ll walk through the city. It’s a big country, a big city, and seeing that we keep our show, you’ll be walking past people today and nobody recognize you. Tonight your show is still full. There’s fans out there that knows you, but the city is so big, everybody is not walking in your direction when you’re going through the city. But I love the city for what it is beyond my music.
There are artists who go through periods of like being ex-patriotic, or…
—they go places where people show them a lot of love. They live in it, and bask in it. I love Spain. Spain is always cool, sunny, nice beach, just like the Caribbean. Spain is the Caribbean in Europe.
Do you have a favorite soccer team?
Yeah, Barcelona man. Lionel Messi—my player. I hang out with Messi for a good while. I watched him train. That’s why Barcelona my town, because it bring me to meet Messi. Messi is the hardest guy to meet. You have to be lucky to be in a place where they’re going and if you’re the lucky fan. But I went to training deliberately to see Messi and sit down and wait on him, and talk to him, and ask him if he listen to reggae and chat with him.
What did he say?
He said yeah, “Si, si." My friend from Barcelona as a matter of fact was showing Messi, this is the songs he did. And my friend came up with John Legend’s cover first because when he go to YouTube that was the first song that come up and he clicked it.
Have you started to think about the next album?
I have the next single already. I am looking for a collab with some hip-hop. It’s gonna be either me and Wiz Khalifa, or me, and a great singer Yami Bolo, and Drake.
Do you remember the original Sunsplash in Jamaica?
Yeah! I grow up watching it.
Me too. I used to watch all the tapes and hear all the stories.
I used to sneak out and stand up outside. I sneak in one year, late ’80s, and I get a piece of Sunsplash before it died out. Great experience. It was the greatest thing when you see Dennis Brown came out and Shabba Ranks, wow. People on cardboard, that’s the founder for all of this.