â€œReggae is the weapon of the future,â€ explains Greg Cipes about The Conscious Revolution, the debut album from his group Cipes and the People. â€œItâ€™s the music that unifies everyone and everything.â€
An accomplished actor on hit TV shows House, Ghost Whisperer, Without a Trace and Deadwood, a voiceover artist on Disney Channelâ€™s W.I.T.C.H. and Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! along with Cartoon Networkâ€™s Teen Titans and a professional junior surfer, the Florida-born Cipes comes from a show business family. His grandparents both acted professionally and his father was a TV director who became successful in real estate, then traveled extensively with his family, often taking them to the Bahamas , where Cipes heard reggae music for the first time.
â€œI was divinely placed in a position to see how the music made those living in poverty feel so good,â€ he says. â€œThe culture and the warmth of the people always intrigued me.â€
Citing reggae, hip-hop and rock as his main influences, the 27-year-old packed up his yellow Nissan Xterra and moved to Los Angeles to study directing at USC, but dropped out within weeks when he landed a pilot at Warner Bros.
â€œMusic has always been part of my life,â€ he says, citing such disparate inspirations as Bob Marley, the Doors, Sublime and Miami bass rappers 2 Live Crew, whose battle for freedom of speech attracted a young Cipes as much as their music. â€œBut it only started to take this form seven years ago.â€
The albumâ€™s lead single, â€œFree Me,â€ is also the first song Cipes ever wrote seven years ago, inspired, he says, by his dog Timber and the spirit of Bob Marley.
â€œI called on Marley spirit to work its way through me,â€ he says. â€œI couldnâ€™t even sing growing up. I just prayed to him to let me spread his message and be a conduit of his love, power and wisdom. And it happened.
â€œIâ€™m talking to Mother Earth in the song as a female whom Iâ€™ve disrespected. And this is my plea to heal that relationship. The other element is my own earthly relationships with women. My heart has been broken at least four times. But Iâ€™ve never stopped loving. I donâ€™t regard women as the opposite sex anymore. I wasnâ€™t always strong enough to do that. But Iâ€™ve vowed not to have sex until Iâ€™ve found my one true partner out there.â€
Cipesâ€™ music is part of his Conscious Revolution, his attempt to unite peopleâ€™s beliefs and bring them together. â€œI do everything in the service of God,â€ he says, explaining that he no longer drinks, smokes, watches TV, goes to the movie, listens to the radio or has sex. â€œIâ€™m being lifted up so I can shed light on others who have the knowledge, experience, heart and drive to unite cultures, religions and races. Reggae is all about the positive message, the positive vibration. Itâ€™s a music that unifies everyone and everything.â€
The video for â€œFade Awayâ€ gives a plug for Save the Earth, while â€œJah Peopleâ€ is inspired by Marleyâ€™s assertion that â€œGod loves everyone.â€
â€œGod is part of every one of us,â€ he explains. â€œWhether itâ€™s Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna , Jah or Allah. Iâ€™m a firm believer in experiencing all religions so you can understand where everybody is coming from, so you can communicate from a compassionate place. I may not know anything, but I understand everything.â€
The albumâ€™s musical styles range from the hip-hop dancehall toasting of â€œOnes Up,â€ featuring Houston rapper Big Boss, and the Two-Tone speeded-up ska of â€œPain,â€ which tells the story of visiting an ex-girlfriend in the middle of the night and getting picked up by the police, to the singer/songwriter balladry of â€œFly,â€ detailing his decision to leave Florida and go to California. â€œThatâ€™s about letting to and putting myself in Godâ€™s hands,â€ he explains. â€œThis album, produced by newcomer and friend. 23 year old Greg Whitman, is about unifying all races, religions and genres of music. All of those things are in me.â€
Cipes and the People has coalesced into a core 11-person line-up, which includes two horn players, three back-up singers, lead guitar, bass, keyboards and a DJ. The band was featured in the MTV show Twentyfourseven, which spurred more than 200k people to check out their music on MySpace, where they were the siteâ€™s #1 unsigned reggae band earlier this year.
For Cipes, itâ€™s not about either fame or success, but bringing people together. â€œMusic is a celebration, a time for people to rejoice in their connections,â€ he says. â€œAt our shows, we hve hippies, hip-hop heads, rockers and Goths. Weâ€™re uniting people that ordinarily wouldnâ€™t come together because our message is so universal.
â€œGod is everywhere and everything. When you start seeing God that way, you can act and perform from a place of power, positivity, focus and peace. I want people to realize they have a choice. Weâ€™re at a place and time where many people think itâ€™s too late. That humanity is doomed. But thatâ€™s not the case. There is a fork in the road and we will turn the right way. God will empower us to make the correct decision. All weâ€™re doing is channeling his divine energy and healing into these songs.â€
Although he admits ganja was once a holy sacrament for him, he realizes now, it was just a bridge. â€œI began receiving messages, both mental and physical, that I didnâ€™t need it any more,â€ he explains. â€œI appreciate my connection to ganja. It influenced me in such a positive way, I want to show respect for this plant, this medicine, which is what it is. But Iâ€™m more on a health tip now. Part of my reason for not smoking anymore is Iâ€™m so spiritually connected to Marley, he told me, during his lifetime, he smoked enough for the both of us.â€
As for his current celibacy, Cipes claims, â€œSex distracts you from your goal. You take your eye off the ball, and the ball is now in my court. And never again will I take my eye of the ball. Unless Iâ€™m married, I wonâ€™t have sex. In my experience, when Iâ€™ve given up things, I get things in return. I realize my life in this body is temporary. To do everything I do, Iâ€™ve had to give up things. My musicâ€™s my girlfriend. I make love to my music now.â€
Music is just a means to an end for Greg Cipes. Cipes and the Peopleâ€™s Conscious Revolution is just beginning.
â€œLife seems to fly away today,â€ sings Cipes on â€œ Free Me. â€ â€œI woke up in the morning/And things donâ€™t feel the same.â€
The Conscious Revolution aims to change your life.
â€œWith you by my side/We will win the fight/In the battle of dark and light,â€ he declares in â€œFade Away.â€
â€œYou are love, your soul is love, and that never fades away,â€ concludes Greg. â€œItâ€™s God telling us heâ€™s walking with us, that weâ€™re not alone. The Conscious Revolution is about letting people know they have the power to create their own reality. When you start implementing that in your life, you will see the change. I just try to do the right thing because everything is connected. And nothing good comes easy.â€
Certainly nothing as good as The Conscious Revolution.