Walshy Fire has one thing on his mind: that second Grammy win for his group Major Lazer, and not for no good reason.
Composed of founder Diplo, Walshy Fire, and Ape Drums, Major Lazer is best known for their ability to transcend genres, breaking down boundaries between reggae, dancehall, reggaeton, soca, house and moombahton.
This year, they are nominated for best Dance/Electronic Album for their Music Is The Weapon (Reloaded) project.
Walshy Fire spends 90% of his day on music, and that exact love, passion, and dedication has bled through his art since the day he started. With roots in both Florida and Jamaica, with an unwavering love for both places that birthed him, Walshy has the innate ability to turn up a crowd in any setting, playing all your favorite tracks while MCing on the microphone and connecting with you on a personal level.
Ever wonder how Koffee’s “Toast” came out? You can thank Walshy Fire for that. In fact, his contributions to Koffe’s project Rapture deemed him his first Grammy win, for Best Reggae Album at the 2020 Grammys. For the rest of his catalog, peep his own Walshy Fire Essentials playlist on Spotify.
He also played a key role as a member of Black Chiney, a DJ crew based in Miami known for their standout, innovative mixtapes that blended Hip Hop and R&B with dancehall and reggae.
AllHipHop: Last time we talked, you had released your album ABENG. How have you been since?
Walshy Fire: I’ve been great, my life has been great. Life has been wonderful. Working on many projects. Executive produced a couple projects, working on some other people’s projects. Working on the second ABENG, I’m going to do a Florida album too. Straight Florida vibe and energy that is missing and was important at one time. It was very popular at one time, but it hasn’t been heard from in a while.
AllHipHop: You were raised between Jamaica and Florida. What do both places mean to you?
Walshy Fire: It’s exactly what it is, right? Jamaica and Florida are both in the Caribbean. Let’s be clear, Miami is where I grew up. Going between both of them my whole life — summers in Jamaica, school in Miami — you get to understand just how much Caribbean culture and south Florida culture play off each other. That’s how me and Wes (Diplo) did the same thing, we both grew up in that. That’s why we’re able to handle culture globally because there was so much going on in those places.
AllHipHop: Fondest memories from being a part of the DJ crew Black Chiney?
Walshy Fire: So many man, just seeing dancehall spread throughout the world and be a big part of that. See people in Japan and Germany and all over the world love Black Chiney, say “Yo, we love this thing.” How much we brought reggae and dancehall to the world, I miss it so much.
AllHipHop: There’s a rise in dancehall more than ever. I know it’s been around forever, but how does it feel?
Walshy Fire: It’s always been there, right? I don’t know if it’s risen and fallen and risen again. It’s fundamentally an underground thing so it’s never really gone away from underground. Sometimes it does become very popular, gets a big club night on a big strip somewhere, but it’s never really gone anywhere because it’s usually more an underground thing. So I love it. I love where it’s reached. I hope it continues to grow because it’s a very big, important part of my life. I love to see it get a chance to be on those big stages every now and then, but I also love the fact that it stays underground sometimes and people don’t notice it.
AllHipHop: I interviewed Izybeats, I can’t believe how “Koffee’s “Toast” came about. His manager sent you the beat on accident?
Walshy Fire: asked him to send me some beats, but the beat wasn’t for Koffee. I later found out that he did have another song with that beat, so maybe he did send it by accident. Which was also a good song, but there was another song on the beat. I knew it was a great beat, I was just waiting for the right time to play it. That’s how that worked out, I said “I’m waiting for the right time.”
AllHipHop: Did you anticipate “Toast” would become what it is?
Walshy Fire: No, you never know man. All the Major Lazer songs, all my old songs, you never, ever know. When it won a GRAMMY, it felt so good. You never know, you just know it’s a good song. That’s the goal, to keep making good music, keep making good music, keep making good music.
AllHipHop: How did it feel to win the GRAMMY?
Walshy Fire: Amazing man. I think this year, I’m going to win another one with Major Lazer. I really feel it’s going to happen. Should I say it’s going to happen to speak it into the universe? Let’s manifest it.
AllHipHop: Best Dance/Electronic album for their Music is the Weapon (Reloaded), how’d it feel to get that nomination?
Walshy Fire: It felt great to get nominated. It was dope. It’s always dope to be acknowledged and it feels good. It’s amazing.
AllHipHop: How did you celebrate?
Walshy Fire: Well, I wouldn’t say celebrate as in something different happened. I try to celebrate every day. I try to be like “yo, today’s another great day.” It’s just another great day.
AllHipHop: You contributed a lot to Koffee’s Rapture project. What did that mean?
Walshy Fire: She’s amazing. I don’t know if you’ve gotten a chance to listen to her new music as well, she’s so good. She’s such a great artist. She put out about 3 songs in the last couple months, all good. She’s a great artist.
AllHipHop: What’s the dynamic in the studio?
Walshy Fire: Just great talent man. She used to come over to my house and we’d make the songs on the dining room table. It was awesome. I’m glad to see she’s a big, big artist right now.
AllHipHop: Spotify came out with your own playlist about all the songs you worked on. How is it seeing just all that in one place?
Walshy Fire: So good, it just feels good. You put your work together, sometimes you don’t realize how much work you’ve put in until you see something like that and you’re like “oh s###!” It feels good, it feels amazing.
AllHipHop: What songs are you most proud of?
Walshy Fire: It’s like which kid is your favorite. [laughs] I pick all of them. Ain’t no song that I’ve done that don’t have no memories tied to it, every one of them.
AllHipHop: Talk about linking with Ghetto Kids.
Walshy Fire: Dope man. Shout out to everybody in South America, I’ve worked with so many people there. Ghetto Kids was a great one, man. We shot the video in Mexico City. Great vibe, good energy. Great, great, great, so dope.
AllHipHop: Best memory from the video shoot? Because that looked lit.
Walshy Fire: Yeah man, just the drone shots. The dude with the drone was so good with it. He was able to fly in between your legs and go… it was so dope.
AllHipHop: What’s the craziest place you’ve ever been to? That made you think “Wow, I worked my ass off for this”?
Walshy Fire: It’s a hard question because there’s so many moments like that. Ethiopia was like that. Kenya was like that. Ghana was like that. South Africa was like that. Nigeria was like that. You really are sitting there like “Yo, I’ve dreamt of this day and here it is.” So many moments like that.
AllHipHop: How’d it feel to be chosen for Youtube’s Black Voices Songwriter Class of 2022?
Walshy Fire: That was cool. I didn’t expect it at all. It goes to show: man just do the work and good things happen. I felt really good about that. I felt really, really happy about that, so dope. I appreciate them so much. Hopefully, I’ll drop lots of music just for that purpose. I have something coming out on February 25th.
AllHipHop: What is it?
Walshy Fire: It’s a song called “Validé.” It’s with a Haitian artist named J Perry, another Haitian artist called Michael Brun, then another artist from Bonaire, which is the ABC Islands named Ir-Sais. He had a really big monster hit a couple years ago. Can’t wait, February 25th.
AllHipHop: How does it feel to play this A&R role?
Walshy Fire: It’s a natural progression. You do DJ, you’re curating for an audience. You’re buying records, it only makes sense that you eventually curate all the way up the ladder.
AllHipHop: Favorite song to drop on a DJ set?
Walshy Fire: It changes a lot. There’s so many. The song that I personally get hyped up whenever I play it, where I’m like “I gotta get on the dancefloor!”, is Aly-Us “Follow Me.” It’s a soulful house record. So good, it’s so good. Any Black person immediately looks up. That’s what I think I like so much about this song, it’s just one of those songs. For instance, “Percolator.” You ain’t gotta wonder what a Black person is going to do when that song comes on. You know that song? “It’s time for the Percolator!”
AllHipHop: I know City Girls’ “Twerkulator.”
Walshy Fire: Yeah, they copied a song. The original is “Percolator.” It’s one of those songs where if you didn’t know there was Black people in here, you finna know. Because immediately they start to look up like “it’s time for the Percolator!” It has a dance to it where you have to knock your shoulders like this, and they start to point at you. It’s one of those picnic things.
“I Wanna Thank You Heavenly Father” is another song, amazing. Soho “Hot Music.” You put any of those songs… Soho is probably the one that’s not “we can just rock with it.” It’s like “I love music and that’s how I know that song.” You’ll see some Filipino pop out of nowhere like “you and I love music, and that’s why you’re playing that song.”
AllHipHop: I saw you said music is 90% of your day, what’s the other 10%?
Walshy Fire: I’m trying to learn a lot of things. I want to read. I read, I get into rabbit holes. I’m really into linguistics, so I’ll find a word or or pick a topic and I’ll get deep. Somebody the other day was saying “yeah, you know the Latin GRAMMYs.” Then I was in a 6 hour rabbit hole on why it’s called Latin.
AllHipHop: What did you find out?
Walshy Fire: It’s a wrong term. I understand how it became the term, but to understand how it became the term, everybody has to agree and admit that it comes from colonization. If nobody wants to agree or admit that, then I won’t have the conversation. If you can admit that yes, that Peru was colonized, that Colombia was colonized. If you can get there, then you’ll immediately go “that’s why you call yourself Latin.” It’s not a term you chose. You chose your tribe, your native.
I found out Latin is a group of people called the Latins. They lived in a place called Latiun, which was in Rome when Rome had many tribes.
They were the ones that eventually became the scientists, mathematicians, top military, and top of the church. Therefore their language, even though the street people might not have spoken it, it became the language of the hierarchy. As Rome began to spread, Latin became a language that spread with it.
When people find out that Latin is a tribe, an actual group of people, then you have to ask yourself “are you?” Because you’re not. You’re not from Rome, you’re not from Italy, and you’re not from this Latium place. It’s like when you see Indians in America: guys, we know this was wrong. We know this was a mistake, but still we’re going to call y’all Indians? No, that’s ignorant at this point. I think the word Latin and the word Hispanic will eventually become ignorant as well.
Walshy Fire: On everything. One day, you’ll come back to me and say “yo, I can’t believe this is happening.” It’s impossible to blanket all of South America, all of Central America, all of Mexico, all of Carribbean America with this word. If you are an African person, an African descendant living in Venezuela, how does this word pertain to you? It doesn’t. If you’re native, think about it. When you look at those people in Peru, what’s Latin about them? Mexicans, what’s Latin about them? Nothing! Other than the colonized language and some traditions that got forced on them, like religion.
We’re going to have a day of reckoning for that word Latin and Hispanic. I think everyone’s going to begin to say “Nah, we need to come up with a new word that better encapsulates all of the people that speak a certain language.” Maybe we can call ourselves the Spanish-speaking people, but even still. F### man, do I want to be considered the English-speaking people? If they were to do that to us, do I want to be in a crew that’s “We’re the English people!” Nah.
They’ll have to figure it out but there will definitely be a day where words like Latin and Hispanic are going to go away. Think about it, oriental. Nobody says that anymore. It was the only thing people said, and now no one says it. Same thing’s going to happen for Latin and Hispanic. It’s just they’re the last ones to really look up and be like “wait a minute.” Everyone else was like “yo, let me do some research. Okay no, I don’t like this.”
AllHipHop: How was working with KYLE on “Irreplaceable”?
Walshy Fire: So cool, such a great talent. Unbelievable talent, the dude’s a genius. The whole album is fire. Every song he’s done is so fire.
AllHipHop: What was the studio session like?
Walshy Fire: So good, such a great vibe. The dude is a f###### boss. He’s a top artist. He’s only going to grow and now he’s doing it independently, no label. He’s going to grow organically, real fans that really love him and really understand that he gives his all on every single record. The dude is amazing.
AllHipHop: How did David and Beam get on those tracks?
Walshy Fire: So I walked out the studio at 5 in the morning, apparently Beam walked in at 5:15am. I just missed him. The next day, they texted me like “Yo, Beam got on the song. He came right after you left.” I’d been in the studio for 6 hours that night, then same thing with Craig David.
AllHipHop: That’s legendary.
Walshy Fire: That was insane. I had nothing to do with that. It was all KYLE harassing Craig David via Twitter at night. [laughs] He was constantly like “Yo, I’m a do a song with you. I’m a do a song with you. I’m a do a song with you.” Finally, Craig’s team responded “let’s get it.”
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio at all times.
Walshy Fire: Good energy, good people, good engineer.
AllHipHop: Talk about your relationship with Diplo.
Walshy Fire: That’s my G man. That’s my best friend man, love that guy. What happened here?
AllHipHop: I got in a car accident, fractured my wrist. I had to get surgery.
Walshy Fire: I’m so glad that you’re fine though.
AllHipHop: I go to yoga everyday trying to make this better.
Walshy Fire: Don’t ever stop. I have a neck injury from stage diving, I’m going to have to do this for life. I’m going to have to do therapy for life. And it’s what I should do. I shouldn’t just go “Oh I feel good today, that’s it. I’m not going.” Don’t sleep on physical therapy.
AllHipHop: What do you do, just exercises?
Walshy Fire: I have to do a bunch of things that elongate my neck to pull the C4 and C5 off the nerve, because it’s pinching my nerve.
AllHipHop: Talk about that stage dive though. Where were you?
Walshy Fire: SXSW. Big, big, big performance. I really felt like I had to go all out. Didn’t see there was this speaker right above me. So I ran, jumped, hit the thing.
You can still see a scar right here.
AllHipHop: Was it worth it?
Walshy Fire: No. The physical pain? No, of course not.
AllHipHop: I’m sure the fans were excited.
Walshy Fire: Yeah, my face was bloody. Everybody’s like “Yeahhh! Rock on!”
AllHipHop: Talk about your new party, Rum & Bass
Walshy Fire: It’s my baby man, every Tuesday night in Miami. You need to take a trip, it’s such a great party. Everybody should come out, Tuesday night. It’s the best. You should always go. Don’t miss it.
AllHipHop: I saw you opened a vinyl bar called Dante’s Hifi also.
Walshy Fire: It’s all vinyl, all tunes. No laptops getting played in there, and great drinks. It’s in Wynwood. It’s another reason to come through, definitely. You gotta take a trip.
AllHipHop: I saw you say this is your first major investment.
Walshy Fire: It is, and I so love it. It’s the best thing I ever did in my life. Great team. It feels great, it’s a huge accomplishment. You always go to a bar or you always are DJing at a bar, then one day you own one. It’s the best feeling in the world. It’s a bar that matters to the community, to the music lovers.
AllHipHop: What are you most excited for next?
Walshy Fire: Just the albums I’m dropping. I’m really excited about dropping lots of music this year, and making it a big year.
AllHipHop: Any goals for yourself?
Walshy Fire: Yeah, I want to buy a farm in Florida. I’m sure by next time you talk to me, I’ll have that.
AllHipHop: What’s your favorite animal?
Walshy Fire: Goat.