We had a chat with the effervescent and comedic, Raul Davis, more popularly known as Raul Blaze on TikTok. He’s a Jamaican man living in Miami, Florida who proudly celebrates his country and all aspects of our unique and pervasive culture.
Some old-time Jamaicans may say, ‘him plentiful sah’ because Raul is one of those Jamaicans who has broken the mold on career explorations. He’s a foreign language educator, an entrepreneur, an event emcee, a writer, a fitness trainer, a model (or so we believe; take a look at his photo gallery his Facebook page), a mental health advocate and the list could go on if Instagram allowed more characters in the bio section of our profiles.
Now let’s meet Raul Blaze!
1. We noticed you’re multi-lingual. Excluding English Language and Spanish, which languages do you speak well?
…I’d say I speak Japanese and French well…I used to be able to speak Portuguese very well, but I guess because I don’t use it as much or because it has been sucked in with the Spanish I don’t speak it as well as I should. So apart from English and Spanish, and Patois, I speak Japanese and French well.
2. And you seem to be well-travelled. Have you touched down on all 7 continents?
I have one continent to visit and that’s the motherland and I can’t wait. I can’t wait to go to…Africa…starting with West Africa… or where we were taken from. So I’m looking to Ghana first and I go to Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire and those places.
3. Wow! I may join you on that trip! Now, you’re clearly an ambassador for Jamaica’s native language, Patois. How long does it take you to script and record your skits?
…it doesn’t take much time for me to script…to do a sketch. Sometimes an entire idea is formulated and developed in one minute…so I see something and an entire skit starts flowing in my head so it doesn’t take long for me to do the skits.
It’s the recording now. I’m a little bit nervous or camera shy even though I’m by myself… so even though the sketch itself is done real quickly, I might take even 20 takes just to do a one-minute sketch because I have nerves and anxiety when it comes to recording.
4. We love the final cut so you’re managing those nerves well! Since we’re talking about performing, you’re also an excellent dancer. What’s your favourite Jamaican dance move?
Oh thank you, thank you for all these compliments (laughs)….it has to be something from Bogle…if anno Bogle, a Worl a Dance, you know, or Prang…anything from Bogle are my top dance [moves]… me woulda say Bogle, Willy Bounce, Wacky Dip, yeah!
5. What keeps Raul busy when he isn’t creating content for his fans online?
When I’m not creating, I’m thinking. I’m a constant thinker, you know, like a constant garden… I have an overactive mind, I can’t just not think…I’m thinking about everything…how I can create a script that I can sell one day to Netflix or I can create a script that I can start a YouTube series with. I’m also creating my curriculum for my language course. You know, just thinking about ways how I can make myself or make my family more comfortable and things I can do to advance causes like mental health awareness…I’m always thinking about the things I do and how I can get better.
6. Interesting. Now let’s talk about food. When you visit Jamaica, which Jamaican dish is on your itinerary?
As soon as I get to Jamaica, I have to stop at the Jellyman at the airport and then straight to Juici Patties to get mi… Chicken Patty, Cocoa Bread, and Homestyle Orange Juice (laughs). Yes, exactly that… as mi reach mi want mi coconut wata, and mi…Chicken Patty and cocoa bread and mi Orange Juice.
7. You sound like a foodie! I can relate. And if not Orange Juice, what other Jamaican drinks do you enjoy?
So sorry…I should have been numbering them….Ginger Beer first…or if I feel like…a Dragon and then third would be like a Magnum but it’s a Ginger Beer first. Yes.
8. Describe Jamaica in one word.
This is my word, excitementatious. That’s the word I always use. Jamaica is very excitementatious.
9. (Laughs) I hope I got the spelling correct….Once in a while you share your encounters with cyberbullies, how do you maintain a positive mindset despite the hate hurled at you?
…I know that as human beings we haven’t developed passed hate yet… wha the word mi a look fah…the scientific word whenever you move from sumting to a nex sumnting… ano advance either (pause)…we haven’t evolved from hate yet…the reason why I didn’t start doing what I’m doing now because I know people can be mean and disgusting but I believe that my dreams are more important than their propensity to be disgusting.
My dreams are way more important… [and] the people who I speak for, their need to be spoken for is way more important than the effect of someone’s bullying, you undastan’? So I do engage with them sometimes to let them know I’m not the one but sometimes mi just no pay dem no mind, you undastan’? Because when you are on social media or in the public’s eye, people believe that it is a right that they have to just be rude to you for no reason at all, you undastan’? And sometimes you have to stand up to them and say, ‘listen, I’m not the one’ and sometimes mi ignore them but my dreams are way important than them, you know. They’re reductive, they’re redundant and you know, my dreams are way more important
10. Well said! Share a word of encouragement with your Jamaican fans.
I just want all my fans, Jamaican fans to know that the thing about life is… we were always told that well if you do this, good will come or whatever…we are taught that we live in a world of meritocracy and you will receive the rewards based on how good you do… and that is very false sometimes. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work hard or you shouldn’t strive for what you want because even if you don’t achieve what you had intended to achieve, you know the effort. You can tell yourself with certainty that my effort was made and I won’t feel guilty.
Yeah, so basically…things will go bad, you know. Don’t let anyone tell you that things will be perfect if you do this and do that. You can do all the right things and bad things happen but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do all the right things and you shouldn’t be good…Still be a good person regardless because you know there’s a chance that good will follow you. It’s the joy and contentment from doing the right things that should keep you going regardless of the bad outcome.
Very powerful words Raul! Do you want to add motivational speaker to that long list of careers? Just joking! Thank you so much for sharing a piece of you with us that we don’t readily see online.
We’re at the end of your sneak preview into the life of Jamaican linguist and Tik Tok favourite, Raul Blaze.
The pandemic has brought a lot of bad but it has also brought forward a lot of good. One of the ‘goods’ is that Jamaicans are everywhere online. You don’t have to scroll too far down a search listing to find authentic Jamaican content on the most popular social platforms. Tik Tok, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, you name them, you’re sure to spot not one, not two but at least five trending conversations initiated by a Jamaican influencer. In this feature series, we will give you a sneak preview into the lives of our most popular Jamaican personalities online. Now tell us, which Jamaican online personality should we feature next?
Interview transcribed by: Racquel Hutchinson