For close to four decades, legendary musician Salaam Remi has been one of the most prolific producers in the music industry. The Queens, New York native and Grammy-Award winning producer pioneered merging elements of dancehall and reggae with rap music to create his unique sound.
Remi made his debut music debut as a keyboardist on Kurtis Blow’s album Kingdom Blow in 1986. Since then, he has amassed a significant catalog that spans hip hop, dancehall, reggae, soul, and R&B. He's collaborated with Nas, Amy Winehouse, The Fugees, Super Cat, Black Thought, Alicia Keys and many others. Some of his signature hits include Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes the Hotstepper;" The Fugees' "Fu-Gee-La;" Jazmin Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows;" Nas’ “Made You Look” and “I Can,” just to name a few.
For his latest project, MuseZeum, a fully immersive multimedia art experience that chronicles Remi’s musical journey and some of his greatest inspirations, he said that the space is a curation "where icons and emerging artists will be able to collaborate and benefit from their works at the highest level. [It] will be the ongoing home for creatives to showcase their works.”
EBONY caught up with Remi at last month's MuseZeum showcase in NYC where he spoke about his love for art, his greatest artistic influences, and why the time is right for him to retire from music.
“I retired from producing music. At this point in life, I only mind my business,” he said.” I had my first record out when I was 14, so I feel like 36 years of production and doing a lot of different things in music was enough for me," explains the legendary producer. "Now I can just take my time to utilize my creativity in other ventures. As a musician that has had several successful projects, my pension was my writing, my publishing, my master writing royalties, and everything else that I have. So why not use this time as an opportunity to take the next 15 years or 70 years to pull it together?”
A conversation with J. Cole, led Remi to brand his art showcase. “I spoke with J. Cole and he was like, “You got all this dope stuff but what’s the brand name?” shares Remi. "Super Cat said we should call it MuseZeum so that’s how it got the name."
MuseZeum showcases stunning reimagined images of cultural icons in music, art and entertainment, such as Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse, Super Cat, D’Angelo, D-Nice, Slick Rick, and Marvin Gaye. Remi spoke about how Gaye was not only his favorite singer but how he is the personification of what being an artist is all about.
‘Marvin Gaye is my favorite singer not only because of his smooth singing voice, the funky grooves underneath his music but what he stood for,” shares Remi. “The reason why Marvin Gaye still standouts among many artists is that he stood up for what he believed should be happening for the people. That’s why 50 years later, What’s Going On is still as poignant as it was in 1971. He’s my favorite artist and greatest influence because he was an artist in every aspect of the word. Think of the album Here My Dear when he had to give up $1 million from the album in his divorce settlement from Anna Gaye. He decided to write a poem over some music. For me, it's always about Marvin being that dude.”
Along with the upcoming concert series, Remi believes that MuseZeum will be an ecosystem that will launch the careers of up-and-coming artists who will reap the benefits of their art. “When you hear things that sound good to you, nobody has to tell you to like it. You just feel it,” Remi said. “So with this art, we to figure out how it can resonate with everybody. The MuseZeum is a space where you can come and see music-based art. It’s like an art studio.”