Wed | Feb 8, 2023

Warrior King living up to his name

Published:Tuesday | October 25, 2022 | 12:08 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Warrior King says that his battle is a spiritual war and one that requires intellect and intelligence.
Warrior King says that his battle is a spiritual war and one that requires intellect and intelligence.

At nine years old, Warrior King had a goal to pursue medical studies to become a doctor, but at the same time he was the ideal candidate for a career in music, having realised he had a creative mind and a talent for the performing arts.

“I was a disciplined student, brilliant, if I may say so, and a class monitor, [so] I saw myself in a role where I could make an impact. I was always singing for fun and would also entertain my schoolmates by imitating dancehall artistes, in particular Bounty Killer,” Warrior King told The Gleaner.

Born in Kingston, he was raised in a farming community in Clarendon and attended the Sanguinetti Primary School before moving to Portmore, St Catherine. When he enrolled in the St Andrew Technical and Kingston Technical high schools, it meant a change in his career path. He studied a trade and improved his technical skills, but wherever he went, he continued making music.

By the time he was an adult, he had developed a reputation. His vocal similarity to Bounty Killer’s would eventually earn him the stage name ‘Bounty Junior’. He then changed it to ‘Junior King’, before becoming ‘ Warrior King’.

“What’s in a name? I’m grateful that the stage name has had an impact. I grow up in a Jehovah Witness home, but my creativity and what I stood for was valued. All the great people are ‘warrior kings’ and it’s not about preaching physical war – though I have mastered the art of war – it’s not by having a sword and gun and one bag a man around me. The battle I fight is a spiritual war and one that requires intellect and intelligence. I believe that is my name, that I have lived up to,” the Ain’t Giving Up artiste explained.

He said that while he is not one of the local roots reggae acts known to collaborate, the pandemic had given him enough time to reflect and venture into spaces that were unfamiliar to him and his recording style.

Having invested in his own Rootz Warrior record label, the artiste shared that he feels more comfortable, and that he can be selective knowing that “it’s not someone else dictating the space and the direction, and I don’t have to worry if there is a lack of transparency”.

In 2021, Warrior King connected with Ghanaian R&B and Afro-pop singer MzVee for the single African Love. The song samples the iconic single Hello Mama Africa by Garnet Silk.

“Though I’m not doing a tour until the album, which is titled Truth, is released, the song did well in that market, and there are plans for one of the first tours I will do to be in Africa. Japan is also in the pipeline. It’s not about the commercial hype of the career but remaining relevant,” he said.

He is currently promoting Skank, which celebrates Jamaican roots and was inspired by the energy of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ 1977 hit Jamming. The song was released in April under Vertex Production label and is on the ‘Safe Moon’’ riddim. Artistes such as Sizzla, Fantan Mojah, Lutan Fyah, and I’Noah are also on that project.

It was in the year 2000 that Warrior King received a major breakthrough with the Virtuous Woman track, which went number one on the local and international charts, and allowed him the opportunity to tour across the globe. The father of five, whose eldest son will be 20 years old in December is an advocate for children’s rights to education.

Hailing Sanguinetti Primary as one of the first institutions to contribute to his education and foundation, the artiste said that he wants to assist the school.

“I want to fix up the music department there before launching bigger initiatives. Rootz Warrior label recently donated keyboards to them, because when I used to live in the parish, I can say it was that school that gave me a solid foundation. Jah provide the daily bread and we, both my wife and manager believe in sharing and the gift of giving,” Warrior King said.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com