Words by Chenee Daley, Photos by Martei Korley—
Reggaedom has been buzzing lately with the name and sounds of newcomer Jesse Royal, the 24-year-old, charismatic, self proclaimed “palace pickney” currently building musical traction in Jamaica and abroad.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, I snagged a very intimate and uncut interview with Jesse. Arriving to my home earlier than scheduled, his teammates spilling in behind him, he is unassuming and pleasant, militantly clad in army green shorts and Desert Clarks.
“Any red wine or marijuana on the menu today?” the forthright singer jokes, following my offers of ackee patties and coconut water to both him and his crew. In our dialogue, the artist is light, feathery and jovial, but his intent definitely heavy. You get the feeling that realness ranks high in importance to him in the context of his relationships and interactions, even more so in his music. His fervent, on-spot rendition of Bob Marley’s “Them Belly Full” underlines his continual emphasis on genuineness or, as he puts it, the “feel” of the music. If you’ve ever heard him perform live, you understand exactly what I mean.
Though Jesse is beginning to enjoy a wider audience these days, with popular songs from his recently-released In Comes the Small Axe mixtape such as “Light Like a Feather” and “Feel Your Pain” (not to mention a highly praised performance at Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records in Kingston, where the photos for this story were shot), he doesn’t seem too eager about any type of impending stardom. “Our music is not no braggadocious music,” the artist says. “Is not music that make you big up your chest and talk about who is the best.”