Casey Gane-McCalla Talks New Book on Jamaica and Bob Marley's Family Businesses
You may recognize Casey Gane-McCalla (aka Mighty Casey) from the days of BET’s controversial music video show BET Uncut. Rap music videos like his raunchy and satirical “White Girls” is what made the late night video show legendary amongst rap fans and horny teenagers in the early 2000s. Today the Cambridge-native is still making music but is also a multi-media entrepreneur, journalist and new book author. In early 2016 Gane released his first book, Inside the CIA's Secret War in Jamaica(Over the Edge Books). The book covers everything from the history of the CIA, Jamaica’s slave rebellions, the assassination attempt on Bob Marley, and the political climate in Jamaica around the late 1970s. There's even a theme song for the book that he recorded called Cocaine Business. With his business partner John Lee, Casey is also the co-founder of MVGEN, which is an online music video generator that takes an audio file and matches it to animated .gif files to produce music videos.
We talked to Casey about his latest book project and of course his favorite black-owned businesses…
Casey Gane-McCalla, Tell Us About Your Favorite Black-Owned Businesses
Casey Gane-McCalla: The [Bob] Marley family has done a lot of really good branding. They have their own coffee brand [Marley Coffee]. They just launched their own brand of legal marijuana [Marley Natural]. The Bob Marley Museum is run by the Marley family.
I was reading about Rohan Marley, who is Lauryn Hill’s children’s father. He’s actually pretty central to the coffee business that they’re starting. He’s really focused on the brand and bringing it past just the music. Now they have headphones and speakers too [at The House of Marley]. They're a good example of a family branded into business.
Black Faves: You’re from Cambridge. Are there any places that you would recommend in the Boston-area?
Casey:Darryl’s Corner Bar, which is a black-owned restaurant. He’s a really great chef. Coast Café. These are two soul food spots. Coast Café is in Cambridge, where I’m from and it’s a takeout place. Definitely go to Coast Café.
There’s a lot of cool nightlife. I really recommend going to Central Square. There’s a lot of new stuff going on. But definitely, in terms of black-owned, shout out to Coast Café. I’ve had some of the best fried chicken and macaroni & cheese there.
BF: What inspired you to write Inside the CIA's Secret War in Jamaica?
Casey: Talking to my Jamaican family I learned a little bit about the politics and history [in Jamaica], but not everything. I became interested in Bob Marley -- I’d watch the documentaries and read the books about him too. So I got familiar about his backstory. Even in college [at Columbia University] I wrote my senior thesis on Bob Marley, America, Russia, capitalism and communism intersecting.
When I started working for News One, Christopher "Dudus" Coke who’s like the big gangster down there, got arrested. Before he was arrested there was a big manhunt and lots of people died and it was big international news. So I wrote a story about the history of his gang and how the CIA was sort of a part of it.
And then I talked to this guy Curtis Scoon. He actually wanted to make it a movie. He asked if I could do some more research on it. And then Snowden released all the WikiLeaks cables. They had like every cable going from the Jamaican Embassy focusing on the period from 1976, because that’s when Bob Marley was shot. That’s when a lot of the CIA rumor mill was brewing very heavy in Jamaica.
So I focused on 1976 and of course I go back into the history of Jamaica. I cover the history of the CIA and I also look forward into what happened to the Shower Posse [gang] after they started working with the CIA in the 80s and 90s.
BF: I could see someone easily dismissing this as a conspiracy theorist type of book, what do you say to the people who make that assumption?
Casey: I think the difference between my book and what people might consider conspiracy theory is that I found sources and references and patterns and not just one allegation, but series and series of allegations that corroborate each other.
What takes it away from the theory part and makes it history is good old fashioned logic, good old fashioned research and sourcing. I would invite anyone to look at all my source materials, which are a lot of American embassy cables. A lot of unclassified-documents.
Interview by Tanisha Blakely.