Reggae group T.O.K consists of Craigy-T, Alex, Flexx, and Bay-C. Four unique personalities and characterizations. Four different experiences, each coming together in perfect vocal harmony. Crafting such club shattering tracks as ‘My Crew My Dawgs’ and ‘FootPrints’ the Jamaican hit makers are internationally known.
With the August 25th release of Our World T.O.K captures the essence of real life experience. Through the air of invincibility on the lead track ‘The World is Mine’ or the motivating, inspiring and image inducing ‘Afternoon Porn Star’ the listener is taken on a journey as seen through the eyes of T.O.K.
Craigy-T, one fourth of T.O.K chops it up with brokencool.com about Hip Hop and Reggae coexistence, the importance of going mainstream, and his favorite Porn Star.
Craigy-T on how Hip-Hop and Reggae co-exist:
"I think you will find that most people that listen to Dancehall music will also listen to and enjoy Hip Hop music and vice versa. They can both coexist; I think they DO coexist now. It’s just that there is not a proper unified movement in Dancehall like there is in Hip Hop."
Maxine Ross: How important is lyricism in Reggae and Dancehall?
Craigy-T: We’ve been singing for a long time and we have fans all over the place. We have fans all over the place and sometimes it’s a language issue. Some people listen to the beat and don’t realize they are connecting with the artist until they sit down and really listen to the words. Then you can get really into the music.
MR: The group is huge in Japan right now. What makes TOK stand out from other Reggae acts?
CT: The thing is we’ve been able to fuse R&B rhythms and reggae Rhythms with Dancehall and DJ’s. Not very many people can do that. Well, I’ve never heard anyone else do it the way we do. We actually have a DJ on stage with us. That’s what we bring to the table. We listen to a lot of different kind of music for inspiration and it comes out as our music. We’re able to represent for a lot of cultures.
MR: Where do your musical influences come from?
CT: Like I said before, we listen to everything. I listen to a lot of 80’s music, a lot of 60’s music, the Temptations, The Stylistics, things like that. All of that, we listen to the music and all of that comes out and we fuse it together. I don’t really know how to explain it because it just happens so naturally. We’re in the studio and we just bounce off each other.
MR: So everything is an inspiration.
CT: Everything. Even if we driving and see something happen, we can just turn it into a song. That’s how a lot of things happen. One person might bring something to the table or have an idea and the rest of us might make some changes to make it appeal on a wider level. That’s how that happens most of the time.
MR: How do Reggae and Hip Hop coexist?
CT: I think there is space for everything. One of the things in Dancehall, there is no unified movement. I think in Hip Hop there is a more unified presence than Reggae. I think that both music styles speak to our urban audience, our Black audience first so I think that that audience will listen to both of them at the same time. I think you will find that most people that listen to Dancehall music will also listen to and enjoy Hip Hop music and vice versa. They can both coexist; I think they DO coexist now. It’s just that there is not a proper unified movement in Dancehall like there is in Hip Hop.
MR: Where is the disconnect in Dancehall then?
CT: I don’t know. I really don’t know. Organization. But I mean, there have been times in the past and it wasn’t working. Probably if there’s a complete self-less artist that can come together and form a coalition or a group of people that can get together, it might work but, I really don’t know. The thing is what I do notice with Dancehall, when an artist does cross over; he tends to seek out collaborations with Hip Hop or pop artists instead of an already successful Reggae or Dancehall artist. We should keep the music within the music and grow our movement first before we seek to merge it. A lot of times maybe we think too much out of the box. We need to speak within our culture and then we come back and are a force to be reckoned with and that is where we need to start. I believe that’s the problem.
MR: Is the point to cross over? And if so, how do you maintain the message of your music?
CT: Really it’s about being creative. It’s about finding the middle point. You have to say what’s on your mind and get your message out there but at the same time, it’s the way that you put it out there and find that middle point, say what you want to say and get it to as many people as possible. That’s really what mainstream is all about. Getting your music to as many people as possible, that’s why it is very important to go mainstream because that’s the reason to do music. You have a feeling, a belief and you want to share it with as many people as possible. I can’t see someone doing music and not wanting to go mainstream. They might not care but at some point they are going to go mainstream.
MR: Tell me about the new album.
CT: The new album is called Our World it’s the third album from TOK, it’s being released on August 25th. Me, Flex, Alex and Bay-C have been doing a lot these past couple of years. We released an album in Japan, we’ve done a lot of stuff over there. We really just wanted to make sure this was the most proper album we could have put out. We learned a lot these past couple of years and we deviated from our formula. A little bit more hard core to the second half which is a little more smooth then we started changing little things here and there. Really just having fun and being creative with the craft. We feel we’ve grown, we feel we’ve evolved a lot. It’s TOK now. That’s what we are now. It’s a tribute to the fans and all the experiences and culture that we’ve been exposed to.
MR: Is there a song about Porn Stars?
CT: [laughs] What? Oh yeah! It’s not about porn stars though it’s about afternoon porn stars! It’s very important that you get that. It’s about being a porn star in the afternoon and then waking up in the morning normal. It’s a song about every woman wanting to be bad and have no consequences. That’s the time to do that. It’s that rude streak where you can do whatever you want and not have to think about it. You can do whatever you want and then come back to focus.
MR: Who is your favorite Porn Star?
CT: My favorite porn star? Let me think. Matter of fact, let me look.
MR: Let you look? Wow.
CT: I just saw it. I can’t think of her name. It’s Angel something.
MR: Well I guess it doesn’t matter what her name is.
CT: [LAUGHS] I like Olivia Lovely. She’s Latina, she’s cool.
MR: OK, got it. So the song is about a woman that can play both roles, slide down the table and teach the babies?
CT: That sounds good. That sounds good. You know, she gets wicked during the afternoon time. Vanessa Blue, that’s her name. That’s the one I like.
MR: Hilarious. Ok. What are the goals of TOK as a group with this new album Our World?
CT: We just trying to let everybody know that we are a force to be reckoned with. That we are here to stay and that we are strong in the game. We want people to hear our music and relax and have a good time. Our last album sold 250,000 copies. Nowadays we know that is more difficult, the American labels keep saying record sales are going down so much as it’s getting a lot more focused. People have a few artists that they like and they listen to those artists. That’s a personal goal. To tap into that market. And I want the Reggae Grammy this year too.