On the Eve of the Grammys, Heavy D Discusses His Nomination, Reggae, Diddy and More
See also: Heavy D RIP: The Hip-Hop/R&B Pioneer Dies In Los Angeles
To hip-hop fans in the early-'90s, Heavy D was the original "Overweight Lover." A rap generation later, he was name-dropped more in the reciting of one of hip-hop's most beloved lines: the first bars from another heavy weight, Notorious B.I.G's "Juicy." Now? Without Notorious it'd be a wonder if the kids today even knew who Biggie was. Like all pop culture, hip-hop's cycles move quickly. Which makes Heavy D's 2009 Grammy nomination certainly surprising.
Lessening the shock--or perhaps increasing it--is that Heavy D's Vibes got its nod in the Best Reggae Album category. The album, released late last year, is an ode to the classic, feel-good reggae, more so than the delineations of the genre that are more prominently part of today's pop culture.
Vibes' standout track, "Long Distance Girlfriend," like much of the disc, floats along a one drop rhythm and deep brooding horns...and Heavy D's singing sounds right at home. If hip-hop in 2008 was any one thing, it was about artists finally taking some chances outside of the music's rigid boom bap formula...of course, most of it sounded like robot.
LA Weekly: First up, why isn't there any Autotune on the reggae album? You didn't want to chase the robots?
Heavy D: [Laughs] I didn't need it. I figured I'd stay in my lane and stay in my range.
In all seriousness, what inspired you to make Vibes?
Well, you know, I'm Jamaican by birth and I've always had one foot in reggae and one foot in hip-hop. In the past, I've done records with all the greats like Super Cat, Coco Tea, Frankie Paul...and the list goes on. I was never really allowed to do it in my major situation because it wasn't as profitable for them as it would've been for me to do a traditional hip-hop album.