Interview with Yabby You

by May 8, 2019Articles, Interview

Yabby You at Reggae Geel 1999 (Photo: Teacher)


When: 1986

Where: Seattle WA

Reporter: Bob Kondrak

Copyright:  2019 – Ray Hurford

I really define myself like Job, first I mix up with these Rastaman who talk about God, now if I didn’t know action speak louder than words, they would have fooled me. For I get to watch them say, and I no one seem the live it. So me realise them is ginal. Well it’s like Job, Job think him righteous, but him never knew he was self righteous person. Job did think him bring glory to god, but him curse god. Most people who know God don’t read the Bible for themselves, but if you start read the Bible and read Job 34, it a little youth who a grow up with Job that make Job know himself, him Elihu.


How did you get the name Yabby You?
It just myself… You Yabby Yabby You.. That was me first song that I sing. I produced it myself and I didn’t want people to know it was me and you know. So it was a hit song, Tubby’s start telling people it was me, so that coming from the song ‘Yabby You’. My real name is Vivian Jackson, everyone know me as Yabby You.

How did you get into the business?
You used to have this Rasta band Sons Of Negus. As a child, when I left home, I run away from home and go amongest the Rastaman to live. Well they had this organization name Ethiopian World Federation Local 43, it’s situated in Waterhouse, a place called ‘Unity Lane’, 13 Unity Lane. You have this brethren of the Skatalites band – Lloyd Brevett he used to play bass. Well he was a member of, a foundation member of that organization. As I was a little child now, a youth, them feel that I could be one of them. Well Ras Michael start teach how to really put word together and make music and he call it Sons Of Negus. Well one of them as a Rastaman now he always to come to me to check for my belief, because I worship the almighty god through the way of Jesus Christ. I really don’t think Haile Selassie is my god. And it always cause a dispute and argument. Still the Rastaman still love me, for they know me still live up to the integrity. One day, when I was still amongst the Rastaman one of them say as you naw go a school you should learn a trade. Well he teach me how to melt up aluminum and then make anything with it.

You worked in a foundry?
Yeah, but me always believed in doing my own thing. When we learn it, I could go and set up my own foundry, but I never know… I have to work inside of the furnace. I have to make the mould, and to use the cold water to wet up the cast to draw them out and make back the mould. And them never believe in eating from people, me used to cook me own food – sometimes me so tired me can’t even cook me have to go down inside the shop and watch the furnace… I take sick and go into hospital. They say I have ulcerated stomach, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, malnutrition, pneumonia and a swollen liver. At the time I was just 17, I run away from family when I was 12. When I make the song now I was on my own, I never had no one to carry harmony with me. I used to have a friend, who always encourage me and him name Ralph. So me tell him say can carry the harmony, and me put him name on it, and call him the Ralph Brothers.

So he sang harmony on it with you?
Well the two of them, one of them is Alric Forbes, who still sing with me till now. Him and the brothers now they come from Mandeville. They live in the country and come to town trying to get into the record businss. Well me know them, so me tell them that we have this rhythm already that me voice already… me just come from Hospital. The doctor said that if I go back to work, it would send me back to hospital. So when I come out of hospital now, me tell them me have a rhythm. I play them rhythm and we practice it and voice it.

Alric Forbes said last year, that you and he were working on some new productions?
He’s on the new LP “Fleeing From The City”, he sing harmony and play bass. As a member of the Prophets. But me wander now, like on tour, but I want to tour with my direct band. – Yabby You and the Prophets. Like I’ve come on tour with the Gladiators to learn what it’s like. To see if I can cope with the conditions, then I could bring my band and show the real me and nice up the crowd, let them see the real Prophets.

So Alric Forbes is in the group?
From the first songs.

What about Dada Smith, was he an original member?
No, when him come in, when me sing “Run Come Rally”. Me and him grew up together on the Gully Bank. As a youth he used to sing with the group named the Bassies – “Things Come Up To Bump”. “I Don’t Mind”, “Ease Up” and “Big Ship”.

I haven’t heard that one yet!
He used to sing for Coxsone.

Who were the other members of the Bassies?
Dada was one, and a brother called Charlie. He sings “Selassie I Memorial”.

Charlie Morrison?
Yeah, and he was the leader the same way. Well Dada used to sing with him. In them times I never start to record yet, anyway that’s the group. But Charlie, he form it up, but they rip him off through he was a God fearing person. Dada Smith and the one called Forsythe they went back now and formed (reformed) the Bassies. Then Dada got shot through the neck. He was the only person who got shot through the neck and live. And the other brother get a stab in his throat. Dada’s voice was still with him, but the other brother’s voice did change – Forsythe’s voice did change. Then the group mash up, and they get another brother, George Blake, and start a group called the Victors – and they sing “Things A Come Up To Bump”. Me watch them rehearse, watch the whole of the proceedings. And hear how they always cry out that producer Coxsone always rip them off, them never give thanks, them always cry. So I asked them why, since it’s just the money that Coxsone find… of the producer find. Why them never find the money? And they say it’s impossible. So I say if I get involved, I’m going to have fe do it for myself. And they used to laugh after me and say it’s impossible, and it take me all these years till 1972 before me could save enough money to carry just three person into the studion. And although they rob me of the song, pirate it and rob me, I make enough money to make three songs. It was when me have 7 or 8 songs, the man ‘DIP’ – Dennis Harris, he came to Jamaica and see me. I tell him me have all this music and ting, and me have two more, but me short of 400 dollars. It was the first time he see me, and he liked me and carry me to his hotel and give me the 400 dollars. And we just go and voice the other two songs and give it to him and say release it [the “Ram-A-Dam” album], and let me have the money.

Did he come through for you?
Well he never let me have no more money. He write me back and say him release it and ting and him only make back him money he spend on promotion.

(This interview was originally published in Small Axe #24 (The Seattle Special) and is a little tribute to the late Bob Kondrak. There were 28 issues of Ray Hurford’s Reggae fanzine released from September 29, 1978 on to September/October 1989.)