On the streets, the name Juice emits power and dominance and the perception that this embodies his musical persona is the precise reason why entertainer Jamar Waithe has adopted that moniker as his stage name.
The singer told Bajan Vibes his musical journey started when he was a child.
“I remember when I was about seven years old, I was in my grandmother’s room and I came across my big cousin’s CD in the deck of my grandmother’s radio. This CD only contained one single track, and it was a hip hop instrumental. The beat was so astounding it captivated me instantly, to the point that it motivated me to write lyrics and that day I knew within myself I wanted to become an artiste.”
Though he has been performing professionally for approximately eight years, it was only within the last five years that he focused more seriously on it. His first official performance was at The Cove Club Barbados, formerly known as The Reggae Lounge. Many other gigs followed with performances at Bim’s Got Talent located in McBride’s, St. Lawrence Gap and also Ba-Jam Music Festival located in Pirates Cove.
Juice has a distinctive style and there is a reverence about him when he speaks. His music is reflective of him being pragmatic in his thought processes. He strives to create music that he describes as “motivational, uplifting, conscious and insightful”.
His philosophical outlook ensures that he is the go-to guy when his friends need a listening ear.
“People that are close to me were always saying I have the ability to become a psychologist through the fact that so many persons from various ages would come to me with their problems, difficulties in their lives and I always knew the solutions or the best advice to give them,” he confirmed.
The artiste was confident in his response when asked about what sets him apart from others.
“What is unique about me is the complexity of my flows. I have mastered the art in such a way that it is very easy to pinpoint them. This is what makes my style so distinctive and uncommon.”
His musical journey has been an exercise in self-discovery.
“It gradually evolved. I was actually exploring my voice, but I would rather call it soul-searching, trying to tap into my inner being. I never really knew I had a voice. I started off as a rapper but then transitioned into becoming a reggae dancehall artiste.”
With rap as the genesis of his music, Busta Rhymes is among those artistes influencing him. Others on that list, with that reggae focus, include Sean Paul, Damian Marley, Aidonia and Bugle.
Juice’s playlist includes a lot of what is trending at the moment. “In this current day and age I listen to all types of reggae dancehall artistes. For instance, I like Sly by LRG ft. Saddis, My Life by Zerimar, Cree by Alkaline, Mr Universe by Skilibeng, Believe in Myself by Chiief Diin and many more.”
The reggae singer has been hard at work. He assured: “You can certainly expect a couple EP’s from me and also a colossal amount of collaborations with mainstream artistes in the game right now.”
He added: “There are many artistes I would like to collaborate with but my main interest at this moment is to feature on a track with a new upcoming Jamaican reggae dancehall artiste called Skilibeng. I strongly believe we can make excellent chemistry together; his writing schemes and lyrical ability are tremendous.”
“My favourite released track so far out of my wide selection of works would be What Am I featuring Ramma Musik. This is a very conscious and motivational song. One of the lines in the chorus goes: ‘If there’s no God, tell me what am I?’ They say that man is the conception, the image-likeness of God, so why can’t we see ourselves as one too? They also preach that our body is the temple of God, which means God dwells within us. We are more than what we really think we are,” the artiste said.
One thing he loves most about being an entertainer is to hear the feedback from people who listen to his music. Though, like any artiste, he holds his work close to his heart; he does not let that blind him to the importance of being critiqued.
“Constructive criticism is very essential to me; it will only help you understand your flaws and make improvements,” he said.
Juice is not outspoken by nature; he lets his music do the talking for him. “As a songwriter, I usually draw my inspiration from my surroundings, my life story. If you really get to know me, you would realise my true expressions come from my music, similar to a diary book because I am not an outspoken person to be honest.”
Pursuing a music career is not for the faint of heart. In sharing his journey he said: “Many challenges I have encountered in my music career, but the biggest challenge I have at this moment is to make a breakthrough. As a conscious artiste, it is very hard to gain publicity on this island because the majority don’t gravitate towards that style of music anymore. If it doesn’t have anything to do with shooting or killing someone, they care nothing about it!”
Music has been instrumental in his development. “It played a big role through my life by shaping me into the man I am now. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed and disoriented, I would listen back to words of wisdom in my songs to always keep me in check of reality and never forget my purpose,” he said of the art-form.
Cheery by nature, with a love for nature, the dog lover is at peace when he is on his own. Living on a yacht would be bliss.
In advising newcomers to the industry, Juice says: “A person that is striving for greatness carries nothing but humbleness. A sleeper will always have nothing but a dream. So, the aim is to be proactive, get up and work hard for what you want in life. Be a dream chaser.” (STT)