All photos courtesy of Ineffable Music Group
You don’t get much more isolated than Bermuda. The 20-square-mile island lies 665 miles east of North Carolina, 768 miles south of Nova Scotia, and 981 miles north of Puerto Rico, but, for some reason, it’s often considered part of the Caribbean. This is equally true in politics (Bermuda is an official member of the fifteen-nation Caribbean Community organization) as it is in music, with calypso, reggae, and dancehall being the island’s predominant forms since a mass influx of Jamaican immigrants hit its shores in the ‘70s.
Collie Buddz was born in New Orleans, but raised in Bermuda, and his music reflects that. His are the anthems of good times, songs that seem fit to soundtrack tourism videos for idyllic tropical locations with booming nightlife scenes. The latest among them is “Good Life,” the title track to his upcoming sophomore album that implores the listener to join Collie in taking one shot for every day of the week and on top of that, “burn the marijuana.”
In the past, Collie’s dabbled in more modern, upbeat dancehall, as well as crossover records with American rappers, but “Good Life” is straight-up reggae fueled by the genre’s traditional “one-drop”-style beat. According to him, the rest of the album, which is due to arrive on May 19, follows suit. To get the scoop on Collie’s first album in a decade, and learn more about his weed preferences, MERRY JANE hopped on the phone with the Bermudan sensation while he was chilling in his homeland.
MERRY JANE: Hi Collie, so you're in Bermuda right now. How is it this time of year?
Collie Buddz: It's nice. It's seasonal, so we get a winter, which isn't cold cold, but it's in the 60s and we've got the sea breeze so it feels damp and all that. But it's starting to warm up now.
You just put out the single "Good Life," how's the response been so far?
It's been really good, really positive. I think people are just excited to have a song out from me. I take my time, you know.
Your last EP came out, what, a year a half ago?
Yeah, November 2015. But it's been ten years since the very first album, and I haven't put out another full length since then, so this project is pretty exciting.
So is the music that's on this one ten years in the making, or is it much more recent stuff?
It's definitely more recent. We've been putting out songs here and there, just trying to stay relevant, but around this time last year, we booked some studio time in Miami and did a few songs. We were actually gonna put out another EP, but then we said, We can't do that. It's getting crazy now. It's been ten years. So really, the total studio time that we worked on this project, I'd have to say was probably about a month. But with some of the songs, I had parts written as far back as 2009, but I never finished them. So we went back into the archives and dug up some stuff. The majority of it was within the last five months though — 90% of the album's brand new.
What would you say is the biggest difference between this new album and your past work?
It's pretty on-the-mark with the first album. It's definitely reggae-influenced — the majority of the songs are that one-drop, raw reggae. Supa Dups produced most of it, and we had a few songs together back on the first album.
How did you originally link up with him?
I met him in Miami for the first time back in 2005 or 2006. Somebody from management thought it would be a good fit. When he played me the first beat I was like, This is crazy. This is exactly what I need. And from then on we've just always kept in touch. He's definitely one of my favorite producers out there, he's done incredible work. Nowadays he's blowing up because he's doing songs with Drake [Supa Dups co-produced "Controlla" and "Too Good"] and he's all over the place, so it's pretty special to still have that link and not always have to ask, “Am I cool?” He's not too big for that.
Speaking of Drake, people have been arguing if it’s okay for him to do dancehall as a non-Caribbean person. What's your personal opinion on that?
I love it. My song "Come Around" on the new album was actually recorded in Canada, because I was living in Toronto for about four years. The Caribbean influence out there is huge, a lot of people's' families are from Trinidad or Jamaica or wherever, and I love it. Dancehall is still pretty small in the big scheme of things, so whenever somebody like Drake either covers it or does a dancehall song, it's a good look for everybody in reggae music.
Now that you mention it, I think the first Canadian rapper I ever heard was Kardinal Offishal, and he was definitely influenced by his Jamaican heritage.
Yeah! "Bacardi Slang," that was the song. That song was wicked. He's Caribbean himself, so that was awesome.
What other producers did you work with on the album?
I worked with Steve McGregor [AKA Di Genius, another co-producer on Drake's "Controlla"], and he was on the first album as well. I've got a beat by Mantra, who just did a few songs on Future's new album, but he's still selling the beats online too, which is pretty incredible. And then we have Paper Diamond, who did kind of like a hip-hop track on there.
Funny story about that [Paper Diamond] song. When we were making it, my tour manager gave me this medicinal cannabis oil, and I said, “This doesn't fuck you up, right?” And he said, “Nah nah nah, it's non-psychoactive, it does not get you high.” So I said cool, and I put it on the tongue, and half an hour later thought I might as well do another one, whatever, it doesn't get you high, I'll reap the health benefits of it.
About an hour and a half later I was like, “Yo I feel kinda funny, I don't know if I ate something wrong or maybe I drank too much last night?” Then we got to the studio and I was lit. My manager left me, so it was just me and Paper Diamond in the studio, and I knew I was fucked up because I kept going to the bathroom and looking at myself in the mirror and going, “You're not high. This stuff doesn't get you high, so what's going on?” That's how I knew I was fucked right up.
It was a total body high for like, two days. I had to catch a flight the same night, so I'm at the airport all paranoid. But anyway, [my manager] called the person he got it from and it turns out it was some super duper medical stuff for people with like, seizures and shit. So yeah, that's how the beat got made, and that song is called "Level," which is kind of fitting.
And do you have any collaborations with vocalists on the album?
Yeah, I've got Kat Dahlia. She's dope, her voice is amazing. And then P-Lo from the Bay — he jumped on that "Level" song that I made when I was fucked up. And then there's a song called "Yesterday" with Riff Raff and Snoop Dogg, which we actually put out in 2015, but that made it on the album too.
Did you actually get the chance to kick it with Snoop in the studio?
No, not yet unfortunately. But I've actually got my own strain coming out called Bermuda Triangle; it's a high indica mix of Sour Diesel, OG Kush, and Mendo Purp, and I heard that Snoop recently did a show in the Bay and he laced the whole green room with some Bermuda Triangle. So I know he at least smokes some of the weed I've got.
That's awesome. How involved were you in the creation of the strain?
I took a couple trips to where it was grown in upstate Cali and made sure it was all outdoor and organic — so just soil, sun, and water. It ended up being 28 or 29% THC, which is pretty good for outdoor. We entered it in the Cannabis Cup in December 2015 and it did pretty well. I think it got 87th out of the whole thing, which is pretty decent. That was the first batch, and it can only get stronger. So we're about to sell some seeds and do all of that.
So I'm curious, what's the current pot policy in Bermuda?
Well, it's still very illegal for the most part. If you get caught with a gram or something like that, they're not gonna go crazy about it, but if you caught with a bunch of little bags, like intent to sell, then there's definite jail time. But I think in the next few years it'll be legalized medicinally. I'm almost 100% positive on that. So at least that's a step in the right direction. And it's expensive down here, like $120 a gram. It's crazy, it's ridiculous. So I'm on the vape pens because they last a lot longer.
Hey man, me too. You really can’t beat those. But thanks for your time, Collie. I enjoyed talking with you.
For sure! The album’s coming out May 19th and pre-orders are live now. Check out the tour dates, too. Take care, man.
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