A my time now – Big Youth
Manley Augustus Buchanan, more popularly known as ‘Big Youth’, is a name that has become synonymous with reggae music across the globe. He has been an integral part of Jamaica’s music industry since the 1970s, has given the world hits such as Screaming Target, Chanting Dread Inna Fine Style and Hit the road Jack, making him a cultural icon on a global scale. For his more than four decades of contribution to the development of the industry, Big Youth will be awarded the nation’s sixth-highest honour come October, when he is set to receive the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer.
An overjoyed Big Youth told The Gleaner that although many have expressed that the honour is well deserved and long overdue, he’s a firm believer in the saying ‘Nothing happens before its time’, and therefore believes there is no better time than the present.
“Social media has been going viral since they heard I was on the list this year. People are happy for me, and the one thing they are saying is that it is overdue and well deserved. They say they see the work I have been putting in over the years and they are glad it is finally being acknowledged, but nothing never happen before its time. A my time now, and that’s why it’s happening at this moment,” he said. “We living in a world where sometimes people deny your rights for simplicity and the good things because they forget the work you’ve done, but I stand for what I stand for over the years, and I just continued promoting righteousness through my music and pushing the culture. I knew it would pay off one day. It was only a matter of time.”
Buchanan was at a loss for words when he received the call last week. “I [have] been looking forward to this and when I got the call I could only say, ‘Oh wonderful!’ It was a feeling I can’t really explain. This has been promised for so long based on the contributions I have made in this business and so it is a joy to see it happening,” he shared. “As I said, I had an idea that it would happen one day but I wasn’t quite certain, and so I’m really happy.” Big Youth says he is particularly overwhelmed at the fact that he is being honoured while he is still able to bask in the euphoria of it all. “I celebrate life, and so I give thanks I am alive to witness this. These people, I notice in this music business, is like dem celebrate the dead more than the living and we nuh like that. We wah ‘full joy’ the thing dem while we fully willing and able,” he expressed. “I am feeling so proud, and I’m gonna step at it like a real star when I go to collect it (the OD).”
Big Youth, who is currently working on his next album, says he believes he is a cultural icon and has been carrying himself, and his country with him, as an ambassador for four decades. He says the latter is the main reason he has titled the upcoming project Cultural Ikon, and says the OD couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. “I have always been working at things like an icon of the culture. Before Jamaica give me this OD, Washington (in the US) gave me one of their highest honours as a cultural icon; and even before that, the fans treated me like an icon everywhere I go, and so I (have) been working with it and promoting the music as best as I can. This award, though, comes at a perfect time and fits into what the album is about. I think I have mastered my craft and I keep on doing what I been doing, which is carrying the culture and the music,” he said. “With this COVID thing happening, I (have) been from home to the studio, working on this album. I’m just putting the final touches on it now, and I can’t wait for people to hear it. I’m just hoping for this pandemic to be over so we can reconnect with the fans once more, but we nah extra rush it because we want things to be alright when we start going out again.”