Navigating a path in the world of reggae is no easy task. The terrain is rough, there's an endless supply of talent, and Jamaican record companies are notoriously shifty. Think the odds are bad now? Twenty years ago, they were worse. And one accomplished reggae DJ's uphill battle was even steeper. Born an albino in Kingston and quickly orphaned by his family, Yellowman has had a tough journey since birth. He wasn't initially seen as a sex symbol or as a viable commodity, but he miraculously turned himself into both. He's overcome the odds, put out more than 50 albums, and is still one of the hardest-touring artists in the history of Jamaican music. Yellowman recently took some time out while driving through the mountains of Colorado to chat with New Times about his rocky road.
Outtakes: You first got started in 1982. Does it feel like it's been 25 years?
Yellowman: It doesn't feel like it's been 25 years at all! I guess what keeps me going is the purpose I'm serving. The purpose is to entertain people and let them have a good time.
What was it like getting started in this industry as an albino singer?
It was rough in the younger days. It was very rough. When I start to go down into the studio, I used to get turned away from a lot of studios and producers because I was albino. I was discriminated against because back in those days, people gave us a hard time.
How does it feel to accomplish so much considering the odds you've overcome?
I try not to think about it. It's great to be what you want to be, even though you are not like other people. It makes me a leader for the albino nation. In Jamaica, people like me used to hide because of the prejudice and the color, but when Yellowman come out, everybody come out of the woodwork. I feel like I break down a barrier.
How did you come up with the name Mr. Sexy?
Me no come up wit de name! Da ladies come up wit de name. I got one beside me right now that looks like Whoopi Goldberg!