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Prez’s passion for music

Marc Hollingsworth

Prez’s passion for music

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Stay Strong is a song Ramir Yung Prez Griffith came up with to record his growth as an artiste.
“I didn’t want the song to be a normal song . . . about partying, what girls wear . . . . I wanted the song to make a difference. I want every song I do make a difference.”
This 22-year-old former pupil of The Lodge School is clear on what he wants his music to be about and sound like.
As Li’l Rick did to calypso and Peter Ram to reggae, Yung Prez wants to put his unique Bajan stamp on the hip hop rhythm.
“I had the beat for about a year, and Sadist, a guy from Most Wanted [a Bajan reggae group] came to me with a chorus.
“As soon as I heard it I said ‘this is perfect’. This is exactly what I wanted it [chorus] to be.’ ”
“So then I wrote the verses. I came up with the topics . . . the ideas. I spoke about HIV, problems in society . . . . I even touched on things people forgot about, like CSME.
“I also got Vanessa Lee to sing on the track because her voice is soulful and it blended so well with it. And then Phantom . . . he’s another artiste that produces positive music. When he heard my demo, he said he had to be on the track. He also brought his reggae/hip hop style to the piece.
“As a young artiste, this is a song I want to produce.”
Yung Prez has been writing music for the past three years.
“When I started out, I didn’t know anybody in the industry. I just had a love for music.
“I didn’t know anything about structure, how to build bridges; I had no idea about technique – which words to use; how to phrase them; how not to put too many words in a line . . . how to say things without actually having to say it . . . .
“I basically developed my craft from recording covers, other people’s beats . . . I wrote about things people wanted to hear, but as I matured, my music matured as well.
“So at this stage I can’t go back and write on the same shallow topics.”
Yung Prez reasons that the songs that mean the most to us are the ones that touch us, hence most likely to remember.
“You may not remember a party song that you heard ten years ago, but a song like John King’s How Many More would stay with you because you can relate to it.”
All this Young Prez has accomplished without any formal training.
“Everything I learnt, I learnt on my own. I now learning to play the guitar and I’m also doing vocal training. I also want to improve my songwriting . . . . I know a few people now so I can reach out to them to get better.”
For a person with such a passion for music, Prez must not have had many happy Christmasses.
“I didn’t watch a lot of TV. For Christmas I would get encyclopaedias and books; but my dad was a big reggae fan so I was always surrounded by music.”
Yung Prez wants Stay Strong to inspire listeners. He related how one of his friends was down on his luck and jobless, and when he played one of Prez’s songs, he was inspired enough to do something to improve his situation.
That was what told Prez he was on the right path.
He has no idols, but he’s learning from the experiences and mistakes the big names make. Interestingly, Prez pays more attention to the Bajan artistes. Billy Kincaid, Ruby Tech, and Buggy were some of the local artistes to whom he pays close attention.
Rihanna ranks high as international artiste Prez looks up to.
“I just have to give the utmost respect to her for going through whatever she had to to perform at that level.”