EXCLUSIVE: Elephant Man Talks Diddy, Children, ‘No Shaky’, Usher, Rhum EP, Dominating Dancehall and more – Interview

Sunday, March 31, 2024, 5:48 PM GMT-5

Dancehall music is a genre that pulses with energy and vibrancy, the genre has been significantly shaped by the contributions of many talented artistes. One such influential figure in the dancehall scene is Elephant Man, also known as the ‘Energy God.’ With his distinctive voice, flamboyant style, and electrifying performances, Elephant Man has carved a niche for himself in the world of dancehall music.

The Grammy-nominated Dancehall artiste whose birth name is Oneil Bryan had a Questions and Answers chat with Yardhype about his lengthy career, the many hit songs, his views on dancehall nowadays, plus the online saga with Diddy and Usher, two mega stars that he worked with in the past.

Born on September 11, 1975, in Kingston, Jamaica, Elephant Man who is now 47 years old started his musical journey in the late 1990s. Hailing from the Seaview Gardens community, he was initially part of the Scare Dem Crew, alongside other dancehall artistes, but eventually branched out to pursue a solo career.

Beyond his music, Elephant Man is also known for his distinctive fashion sense, often characterized by bright colours and unusual outfits. He is also hailed for his investments outside of music, such as his famous hillside mansion in Jamaica which is something he’s particularly proud of.

Check out the Questions and Answers below:

GENERAL Questions:

  • Who gave you the name Elephant Man?

“Well i got that name from my friends in Seaview Gardens enuh… when mi likkle and duh music and a come up inna the music, dem seh mi ears did big and dem call mi Dumbo and then Shabba Ranks seh ‘yo Elephant Man di man fi name star’.”

  • Who or what inspired you to start doing music?

“I think it was a God gift present from God…” He went on to outline that he lived “three gates apart” from Shabba Ranks, he also pays respect to Super Car, Ninjaman and Mad Cobra. Listen as he explains in the audio below:

  • What’s your favourite verse you wrote?

Before answering the question Elephant Man declared that he has many, however, he noted the following, “One of dem for me is ‘I’ve seen nuff dance before but I’ve never seen a dance like this, I’ve seen nuff dancehall before but a dah one yah come top the list… Real badman nuh wear people pants.”

  •  Who’s your favourite dancehall Artiste?

“Well, it wouldn’t be one enuh… is a couple of dem, Shabba, Ninjaman, Mad Cobra, Super Cat, Buju Banton.”

  •  Who’s your Favourite Reggae Artiste?

Bryan was more specific on the Reggae side, saying, “Bob Marley the king… Something special about Bob as a Reggae singer, we all look up to him.”

  • What keeps you grounded? (Things you do to relax/chill)

“I like to play basketball, i like to be at the studio just chilling, listening new riddims, writing out new ideas… hanging out wid my dogs dem… mi bird dem… sidung round mi pool… play music… i like to listen a lot of souls.. i like to listen old-school Dancehall, old-school Reggae,” listen to his full response below:

  • What do you love the most about Jamaica? Do you have a favourite parish?

“Our culture, our beautiful beaches, the lovely people, the dancehall vibes, the party vibes… Jamaica have some of the sexiest and prettiest females in the world,” he also stated, “nut’n cah beat Kingston, everything deh a Kingston, when it come to partying…” he also highlights his love for Negril, Ochi and “Galtegobay”.

  • What’s your Favourite Jamaican dish?

“Callaloo, banana, dumpling, yam… Jerk chicken… Roast corn, roast yam and salt fish… Jamaica have the best food nut’n cah beat we inna food” he outlines. He went on to reveal that whenever he travels, Jamaican food is one of the things he misses the most about the island.

  • When you’re on the road, what’s your go-to fast food to satisfy your cravings?

“I love the street food culture… The pudding man a Ochi.. Jamaica have the best food.” He went on to express his love for Chinese food, “We bun the Chinese dem haad but mi a tell yuh di truth, “Si the Chinese white rice a foreign, the chicken wing them fry well dry and mi soya sauce weh mi put over it, it over, right deh suh!”

  •  How do you usually come up with your songs?

Bryan Explains that he likes to write on things he sees in the dancehll and catchy lyrics and melodies with engaging themes, “I like to write about things weh people can relate to.. i like to keep my lyrics and my music catchy… riddim affi be banging too,” Listen as he gives details below:

  • Do you prefer performing or recording in the studio?

“I prefer di two a dem.. performing is my hobby, when yuh seh performing yuh seh Elephant Man and i love to record because I’m one of the best recording artistes … i love recording, love it!” He went on to detail that his voice is versatile enough to hold notes and keep on key during the recording process hence he’s a pro in the booth similar to being on stage.

  • What Are Your Views On The Current state of Dancehall And Reggae music?

“I think that Dancehall is doing well… as you can see a lot of dancehall riddim is coming back!.. bigup to trap dancehall but dancehall is back in full effect!”, He went on to outline that artistes such as Sizzla etc are still carrying the torch, also highlighting the upcoming staging of Reggae Sumfest as a symbol that Reggae is still going on Strong. Listen as he gives full details in the audio below:

  • Which of your songs surprised you the most in terms of its success?

Elephant Man declares that a lot of songs have surprised him over the years, noting that he always put in his best effort but at times he’s still surprised by the success, like ‘Pon De River Pon De Bank’ etc, Listen below:

  • Which do you hold in higher regard, and why: A Reggae Grammy Award or a song in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart?

“The wul a dem count enuh… a music me do, i don’t really pick one.”

  •  ‘Log On’ and ‘Pon De River Pon De Bank’: Yardhype sees these two songs as two very important songs in your career, First ‘Log On’ making you a house-hold name locally, however,  ‘Pon De River Pon De Bank’ gave you the exposure internationally, do you agree? and which other two songs you think did the next best for your career?

“A lot a dem come do great fi mi career… Willie Bounce, Nuh linga… Crazy Hype… Signal Di Plane” he also reminds us of his collabs with R. Kelly, Janet Jackson, Kat Deluna, Maria Carey, Busta Rhymes, Lil John. Listen as he list some of his most popular tracks below another from ‘Log On’ and ‘Pon De River Pon De Bank. Listen as he gives details below:

  • How many years would you say you had a run at the top of Dancehall, starting from ‘Pon de River Pon De bank’?

Elephant Man outlines that he never checked the exact amount of years he was on top in dancehall, however, highlights that his run lasted for over 10 years, “I had deejay of the year 5 time back-to-back.. been on top for a while… number one pan top a number one.. award weh can full two houses… i don’t really check on those things, but me know seh it’s been a while, ova a decade”

  • Please explain the process of making ‘Log On’ and ‘Pon De River Pon De Bank’ as in how long did it take you to create the songs and who produced them?

“The process of making Pon di River Pon the Bank… i’m the one that produced it enuh!… and Log On was procured by Jeremy Harding,” he next detailed how long they took to make, and the other individuals who were instrumental in the completing of both songs, Listen below:

  • How many Albums and EPs have you released in your career and are you looking to release any in the near future?

“I’ve released, 10 albums and 5 EPs and I’m about to drop another EP titled Rhum.. ” he went on to announce that the Rhum EP will be released in May of 2024.

MORE PERSONAL QUESTIONS

  • Who or what inspired your love for high/bright-coloured fashion?

“Yuh know seh… a we seh thirst is noting image is everything… I’m a person who loves colours and we like go with the colours dem weh match and we like look good and we like bring the fashion to the fans them,” he went on to highlight being inspired by Ninjaman and Shabba Ranks fashionwise.

  • Why do you choose to do mainly party and dancing songs instead of typical gangster songs like most dancehall artistes?

“First of all.. i did a lot of gansgter songs.. but i travel and i see what people like, people like songs that kids, elderly folks and Christaian, worlions, everybody can listen, for instance you can not do the gun songs certain place,” he gave more details on his reasons in the audio below:

  • How do you balance your personal life with your career demands?

“Well, during the week you know studio back to home, studio back to home so that means seh yo girl know seh aright yuh still talk to her yuh still talk to yo kids, still talk to yo mother and father mek dem know seh yeah man yo good,” he went on to outline that with the fact that he’s in charge of his career, he is able to interchange between the two at anytime, listen as he gives more details in audio below:

  • How many Children do you have?

UPDATE: After initially being reluctant to tell the number of kids he has, not wanting to make any of them feel away, he went on to outline that he has “20 kids”, consisting of 4 boys and the rest are girls. It was later revealed that he has 38 kids.

  • We notice you don’t hang out much with fellow dancehers nowadays, let us know the main reasons for your actions.

“As you can see everyweh artiste guh is trouble, problem, yuh live and yuh learn enuh, suh sometime yuh affi just be careful as an artiste… memba enuh everyweh yuh guh, everyweh yuh hang out is a problem, you know police and the law and who fi deh deh and who nuh fi deh deh,” he went on to declare that he does not want to be caught in the wrong circle because it’s not “safe” anymore to hang out. Listen as he explains his reasons for staying low-key in the audio below:

  • As a veteran artiste who is from a different era when dancehall had less freaky and chopping lyrics, what’s your take on the change?

“Well a man free fi deejay what him wah fi deejay enuh and a man free fi seh wah him wah fi seh, but at the end of the day i think too much a one thing nuh good fi nut’n.. suh some a di time yuh cah just stick pan one thing,” he went on to admit that he uses chopping lyrics at times, however, he limits the usage. Listen full below:

  • Do you feel respect from younger Gen-Z artistes?

“Yeah man… the wulla di generation dem si mi and gi mi nuff respect!”

  • Tell Us About Your Music Team(manager/producer).

Listen as Elephant Man tells us about his team below, he also infomrs fans on how to connect with him:

  • You are second to none with regards to performance in Dancehall: Out of the many other great performers in the genre, who inspired your energetic performances the most?

“As a kid growing up two of my performers are… Shabba Ranks and Ninja… They have Image, dressing, clarify, dem man deh run it man trust me… growing up watching them, there is never a dull moment,” disclosing that they spired him a lot.

  • Would you sell your house on the hill at the right price?

“No! mi nah sell mi house. I’m not the selly-selly type,” he outlines.

  • Which song/music video will you be releasing next?

“The song that i have on the Coolie Dance Riddim called ‘bad gyal‘ and the song i have on the Grounds Man Riddim for Flava Mcgregor, it’s Called ‘No Shakey’. Those two will be releasing next week,” he also announced that he will be releasing a music video for each song. Ele reiterates that he will be releasing his Rhum EP which will be released under Hapilos Productions.

Controversial Questions

  • Have you ever been to any of Diddy’s Parties?

“No.. well when i signed to Puffy enuh, i signed to Atlantic Records first, when i did my ‘Good To Go Album’… When i sign to Puffy i neva get the chance to yeng out with him like that… Remeber i have so much dancehall shows doing and i had to be back and forth from the shows in the US to Jamaica, taking care of my personal business so no i neva have the time to go to one of them parties.”

The Energy God also showed gratitude to Diddy, reminding us that he got a Grammy nomination for the album he did for Diddy, “Lets Get Physical album, that’s the one i got nominated for Grammy,” listen as he gives details below:

  • What was your reaction to the Diddy and Usher allegations Knowing that you worked closely with both in the past?

“I don’t know bout them thing enuh!.. I’m a Jamaican, Jamaica is my culture, we work with them but at the end of the day, i can’t just get up and judge a person and say ray, mi only can seh wah gwaan wid dah person yah and wah really a happen?… People a seh, but wi nuh si nuh proof pan nut’n suh me cah just get up and seh dah man deh ray and cast judgement and thing,” he outlined that if there was proof he would speak out against such actions which are not supported by the Jamaican culture, “yuh know wi nuh support them thing deh”.

“Yuh know mi nuh have nut’n fi seh bout that!” he also clarifies the lyrics of his new song, highlighting that he only questioned what happening with “Puffy”, he also sent a shout-out to the rap mogul for being a powerful black man in the world. listen to his full reaction below:

  • Do you think dancehall should stay true to its roots of denouncing homosexuality or should we sensor such lyrics to work with the change in time?

“Yeah man… Dancehall denounce a lot of foolishness and it nah stop denounce a lot of foolishness, a dancehall enuh and dem seh who know betta duh betta,” he next tells ‘Shaky’ people to stay one side with their “foolishness”.

  • What’s your reaction to people who imitate your voice?

“Well i don’t have problem with it enuh, but if you ago use my voice just have likkle respect!.. don’t try feel like seh yuh ago try bring dung my thing with my voice… How does it look fi somebody a try bring dung your thing with your voice? That nuh mek nuh sense… Dont try clown-out my thing with my voice,” listen to his full reaction to the question below:

  • Let us know more about Your upcoming song that you previewed on Instagram, in which you asked what’s happening with Diddy.

Elephant Man states that with the fact that he knows Diddy personally, and not being pleased with “certain allegations” he had to ask the question of what’s going on? He also declared that he’s not firing shots at Diddy, just raising the question. Listen as he talks about the upcoming song in which he mentions “Puffy” below:

  • IS THERE ANYTHING ADDITIONAL THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL THE FANS?

“Energy God seh fi love God, put God first in everything weh yuh do, believe inna yo self and just keep on doing good… if you keep doing good, then good will follow,” he also asks fans to stay out of “trouble” and other negative endeavours.

Check Elephant Man’s “No Shaky” preview and full song below:

Follow Elephant Man on Instagram

Despite facing controversies and challenges throughout his career, Elephant Man’s resilience and dedication to his craft have kept him relevant in the ever-evolving music industry. His ability to adapt and remain connected with his audience, coupled with his undeniable talent, ensures that Elephant Man continues to be a significant and influential figure in the world of dancehall music.






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