What's Your Problem Jay Kay?
Jamiroquai's 24-year-old Jason Kay (aka Jay Kay) was brought up in Ealing, West London, by his jazz-singer mother, Karen Kay.
Inspired by the likes of Sly Stone, Roy Ayers and Gil Scott-Heron, he formed his now successful jazz-funk band.
In late 1992, their debut single, 'When You Gonna Learn?', a one-off on the Acid Jazz label, was enough to persuade Sony to offer
Jay an eight-album deal. Jamiroquai's first major-label single, 'Too Young To Die', went Top ten and, last summer,
the album Emergency On Planet Earth entered the UK charts at Number One. At the time, Jay was dogged by accusations
that he'd had an easy ride to the top because of his colour, a white guy leaning on a black sound.
Jamiroquai are currently completing work on their 12-track, double-album follow-up, The Return Of The Space Cowboy.
A lot of people reckon I want to be black, and that I'm trying to sound like a black singer, which is such a load of old cobblers. I sing like my mum, like myself, the only way I can. I've never looked to anyone, black or white, and tried to sound like them. But I get accused of
it all the time, and it's a fuckin' pain in the arse. What bugs me is that black people don't get slagged off when it's the other way around.
Snoop Doggy Dogg's used pretty much the whole of Parliament and Funkadelic. He doesn't get slagged for that. Why not?
Because he's black. Journalists sit in front of him and think: He's a rapper, I can't slag him too much. Let's slag the whitey instead.
So my songs are derivative of black music, are they? Get it through your skull, buddy boy so were The Beatles, so were the fuckin' Rolling Stones. You name it. There's only so many chords. If I played you Stevie Wonder's 'Pastime Paradise', would you tell me it's derivative of white music because it's got violins and classical bits in it? That CNN poster, "Young, Stupid and White" I never even saw it. I thought it was a fuckin' great title for a tune though. If I called a song that, I could have a dig at the sort of people who write that stillness in the first place and also relate it to the rise of fascism. They're the characters I'd call young, white and stupid. I thought it'd be satirical, but I've realised in the past year that I shouldn't lower myself to these people's bloody levels of having a go. I can't be bothered.
Why am I stupid then, because I'm white? Hmm, I'm sure the five black folk employed by Jamiroquai would agree.
I always get the impression that the people who write these things are white themselves. They're actually the ones who wanna be black, wanna be street-cred. Like being black automatically makes you street-cred. Does it? You must be getting fooled.
You think that all the best dancers are black? You don't even know. Break-dancing, popping, hip-hop. That's Hispanic.
Puerto-Rican roots. And black roots as well. Don't kid yourself. Have you listened to our backing tracks?
It's South American, Latin. It's not fuckin' black at all. I've never heard so much crap in my life.
A lot of white kids wanna rap and be black cos they thing they'll look harder like that. They think they'll be "in the crew".
It's exposure to MTV and that sort of shit. You get all this yo-in' and ho-in' and bitchin' and mother fuckin'.
Gret word that, motherfuckin', isn't it? Just bridges a space in the music, always fits in nicely. No, I don't use it. I find it unnecessary. There're lots of better ways to express yourself. You don't get more respect for it either.
More black people than white people come up to me and say: "Wicked music, man. Like it, great lyrics."
I went to Dalston the other day and about six people stopped me in a 400-yard stretch of road, all really enthusiastic.
I've even been stopped by guys with dreadlocks.
Journalists were so nice at the start and then it all went horribly wrong. The Stevie Wonder thing came out of nowhere and has been going ever since. All because one guy said I sounded a bit like him. From then on, I was supposed to be the wanker
who based his whole career on Stevie Wonder. I was the guy who got an easy ride just because I was white.
People who say that are fuckin' idiots who don't know what they're talking about. They're not me, they don't know what I've done.
I had to go out and do all sorts of weird and wonderful, dangerous things to get my start.
I had to break the law and be a fuckin' little criminal. I didn't wanna do those things. It certainly wasn't easy.
The problem is that the press conjure up this image of who you should be and try to make you fit into it.
They can't make me fit and so and so they slag me off. They don't know what it's like trying to keep a leash on something that can
easily run away. I only have to walk out of the studio for one hour and what I left behind as a potential Marvin Gaye's
bloody 'I Want You' has become fuckin' Mr Bloody. I have to be careful all the time. I don't need all this Stevie Wonder shit.
I've got better things to think about. Sure, I'm big-mouthed Jay who's got a big fuckin' gob. But so what?
I came up with this tune the other day, but when we played it, it turned into 'Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing'.
I wouldn't keep anything like that. What people misunderstand is that my key, tune and register just happen to be similar to
Stevie Wonder's. It's not that I sing like him or even sound like him. It's just that we go for the same notes.
I could sing most Stevie Wonder tunes comfortably. Big deal.
What are you trying to say? That no one's ever going to sound anything like Stevie did again?
It's 50 years or whatever since the guy was born. You think that someone else might come along who likes doing that music as well? Probably. There's only five billion of us on the planet.