Edwina Findley and Kevin Hart in 'Get Hard'

Interview: ‘Get Hard’s’ Edwina Findley Talks Lessons Learned From Kevin Hart And Will Ferrell

'Get Hard' star Edwina Findley talks lessons learned from Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell.

You may have thought you’ve seen Edwina Findley for the first time when she slapped Kevin Hart upside the head in Get Hard, but think back a bit further. The NYU-trained thespian was also a gun-toting, ride-or-die chick for Omar Little on the HBO classic, The Wire. Fast-forward 13 years, and Findley has starred in another HBO series, Treme, as well as a Sundance-heralded, Ava DuVernay-directed film Middle Of Nowhere. She is also currently taking direction from Tyler Perry for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN series, If Loving You Is Wrong.

Here, Findley chops it up with VIBE about lessons learned from her big-named collaborators and what they’ve all taught her about her prospective ascension to the top of Hollywood. And of course, she has a few tips of her own for how to “get hard.” Take notes. – Iyana Robertson

VIBE: Tell me how the role came about, because this is your first big feature film, right?
Findley: Yeah, I’ve done a few independent features prior to that, was able to do Ava DuVernay’s Middle Of Nowhere, which won big at Sundance. Actually, a lot of people don’t know this, but I filmed Red Tails, George Lucas’ film about the Tuskegee Airmen. I was in Prague with everybody for almost a month, but at end of the day it was the three African-American female characters, myself, Jazmine Sullivan and another actor, who were taken out of the movie.

Wow. I did not know that.
Yeah it was funny because prior to that, it was such a huge movie and I was so excited. Then I’m  like ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m not in the movie.’ But you know it’s just funny how all things happen in time.

Very true.
So yeah, I’ve been pretty consistently working in television and doing different series for HBO. I started working on a comedy called Veep on HBO. The casting director from that is the same casting director from Get Hard, and she thought I would be great for this role. So I went in, met with the producers, auditioned for them and the creators and everything. Then finally, I think Will and Kevin had to sign off on it and they did and they thought I was great and here we are. So I’m definitely really excited and I feel very blessed.

We know being on set with Will and Kevin has to be fun, has to be full of jokes, but did you learn anything serious from them about the craft and about the business?
Absolutely. I actually have an organization called Abundant Life U, and we’re launching a school for artists in Hollywood right now. It actually opens on April 18. We’re launching with a boot camp called Artist CEO, and it’s really an business boot camp for artists and creators. I’m telling you, Will and Kevin modeled this so wonderfully. You know, Kevin was fully present during the scenes, and then between the takes, he was doing business. I mean, he has a production company, he has other TV shows going at the time, he was producing a pilot for ABC, and his assistant was there on set. So [I learned about] just being able to balance the artistic side of things by being a wonderful performer, as well as the business side. It’s also Will Ferrell’s company that’s producing this movie, Gary Sanchez Productions, who produces comedic films and television all over. So one thing I definitely learned from them is their enterprising prowess. It’s incredible.

Since you were in the movie Get Hard, I want your tips for women on how to man up, on how to “get hard.” Sometimes women want to be soft and demure, but sometimes women have to stand up and “get hard.” How do you do that?
I feel like it’s important for women to know their value. I feel it’s really, really  really important for women to know exactly what they’re worth and not compromise that. I think our tendency is to really wait for the man to make decisions. I would say to women that they have to assertive, they have to be articulate. With me, before I was married, I would kind of always allow the man to drive the relationship. I was dating this one guy and he was standing me up. And it was crazy, because he was upstanding in the community and a public figure. Everyone looked up to him, but it took other people to help me realize: that man is just not that into you, that man just does not have integrity and that man does not have character. It does not matter what the public perception of this person is, if privately they’re not consistent, then they’re not worthy of you. So it actually took my now-husband to teach me what I was worthy of and to model that before me.

SEE ALSO: Review: If 'Get Hard' Is A Comedic Competition, Will Ferrell Wins

During your interview with Dish Nation, you briefly alluded to a The Wire reunion. What is that about?
Oh my god, I had no idea I was giving a spoiler right then and then it made the headline. Well it’s still being planned now, but I think a lot of the people in front of the scenes and behind the scenes have all been working on different projects. I was definitely blessed to reunite with the creators, writers, producers and some of the actors on Treme, which we just finished doing. Everyone has been all over and so now is a time where everyone just feels The Wire love like, ‘Let’s get back together everyone.’ So they’re making it a big thing for the people behind the scenes and people in front of the camera and just inviting everyone to come back together and do a little rendezvous out of the country. But it should be very, very, very exciting.

You’ve done film and you’ve done TV work as well, what are some differences between film work and television work?
Speed. Speed is one of the main differences, meaning that in television you are moving very quickly. There have been times where I’ve shot upwards of 30 pages in one day in a TV show. Just to give you an idea, typically in television, you’re shooting around 50 pages. You normally have around 8 to 13 days to do that. In film, you could get through three pages or less in one day. You can get through a fraction of a page in one day. So you constantly have time to explore and to really flesh out different moments and fully inhabit a character or fully inhabit the nuances. And in TV, you have to do your homework in advance and be able to make strong and quick choices, because you just don’t have the luxury of time. But working on an independent film is often a lot like working in TV. When I was working on Ava Duvernay’s Middle of Nowhere, its beautiful scenes where there was only one take and that’s it. And you’re like ‘Hey, you’re moving on? What do you mean you’re moving on?’ As an artist, especially an actor, you’re always like, ‘Wait I need to do that again,’ but Ava had such a great eye. She was like ‘No that was it, that was perfect.’ And sure enough, when you see the movie cut together, that’s the scene that everyone’s talking about. I think a lot of people really look at the entertaining aspect of it, and don’t realize how much work, how much skill goes into filming both movies and television series.

You’re working with Tyler Perry now you’ve worked with Ava DuVernay, what is it like working under two very strong voices?
It’s great. I’m the type of artist, I’m very collaborative,  so when it comes to my characters, I tend to have a strong point of view also. Even for Get Hard, I was emailing the director, and asking questions about my character because I’m a researcher. I like to get beneath the surface, I like to really explore dynamics and explore the character’s background and history. And so its wonderful working with other artists who really value that, and directors and writers who really value that. Whether its Ava DuVernay, or Anthony Hemingway (Red Tails, The Wire, Treme),, whether it’s David Simon, Etan Cohen or Tyler Perry. I think when you’re working with strong artists and strong directors, it helps everyone because now there’s a clear focus, there’s a clear intention, and you can find your place within that. As well as. when you as an actor have a strong opinion, it gives you somewhere to go. It gives you substance, things to play with and it always ultimately makes for a better production.

On OWN’s If Loving You Is Wrong, how is your character Kelly similar to you?
Well Kelly is, or at least starts out as, an idealist. She’s an optimist. Now there’s some naivete in her that I don’t have to the degree that she does, but I definitely am naturally a dreamer; I tend to see the world through rose-colored glasses. I tend to believe people have positive intentions. I tend to believe people can change. And I believe those are all qualities I believe Kelly possesses. But the difference between me and her is that she makes some huge life decisions based off that. She decides to prematurely purchase a house for her and would-be fiancé, only to find out he was meant to marry someone else. Which ended up being devastating for her. I’m even talking to Oprah about it, and she’s like ‘Why did she buy this house,’ and I’m like ‘I’m thinking the same thing, Oprah. Why did she buy that house, girl?’ So as an actress, it was my job to figure it out why did she buy this house? Why did she buy this house? And the answer I came to and which I chose to play is that she in need of love. That she wants love so badly, and many women that relate to that. So there’s a void happening in her. She wants love so badly that she’s willing to extenuate and compromise herself by any means necessary to get to it, and hold on to it. And unfortunately it backfires. In this season and now Kelly is learning how to live on her own two feet, and trying to learn how to be that fully independent woman and understand what she deserves and what she doesn’t. And I think that’s what fans are really going to connect with this season. How do you pick up the pieces, after you kinda lived your life for someone else and or lived your life in hopes of someone reciprocating the love you have for them?

What are some of the biggest gems that Oprah has dropped on you that you can’t ever forget? Something she said to you that’s going to stick forever.
You know what? One of the things I get from learning from people, sometimes its what they say other times its what they do. And with Oprah, it’s really what she does. For instance, unfortunately my mother passed away in the middle of shooting and it was very, very hard. But to see how she and Tyler and the presidents and vice presidents of the company, how they cared for me during that time. People watching the show they would never know that I experienced this tragedy in the middle of it, you know.  And I recognize these people are truly busy. They are on top of the world, we already know that. I think it’s a beautiful thing – and I feel the same about Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart – its one thing to care about what people do for you, it’s another thing when you care about doing something for other people. And I have found that Oprah, Tyler, Kevin, Will, I can go down the list, that they are enormously generous people, they’re kind people, they are considerate people. They just affirm for me that the higher that you go, the more humble you should get. The higher you should go, the more grateful it should be. And I feel like each of them, including Oprah, has modeled that for me in a really beautiful way.

I’m sure you heard this news this week: the Deadline article saying that the upward movement of diversity on TV is basically making it hard for white actors to land roles. Have you heard about this?
I have not read the article and I’m definitely a person who wants to have read the source article in order to comment on it. One thing I can say is that I am enormously excited that there are more opportunities for African-Americans in television than there ever been before. It means those of us that paid good money to go to NYU, and Juilliard, and Yale and Harvard and Columbia and USC, now have a chance to show our craft, our skill, our purpose and we’ve been working equally as hard to get in the entertainment industry. And I think it’s about time that we have more opportunities to showcase the wonderful array of talent that we possess.

 

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Then & Now: Common Details How He And J Dilla Collaborated On The "Thelonious" Track With Slum Village

J Dilla and Common had a really tight creative bond and, at one point, lived together in L.A. So you know that Common got dibs on all of his hot beats first. They were hip-hop brethren just trying to work together and of all of their collaborations, living and posthumous, the track “Thelonius,” is the sharpest intersection of the two legendary artists' careers.

A singular song fit for two albums, the cut was placed on Common’s fourth studio album Like Water for Chocolate and Fantastic Vol. II, Slum Village's classic sophomore album. “Thelonius” as we know it was in a way an accident...a soulful snafu that we get to enjoy forever. In this excerpt of VIBE's Then & Now video franchise, Common shares how the song manifested unplanned, willed into existence by Dilla’s uncompromising creative compass.

The story is brought to life with artwork by visual artist supreme, Dan Lish (@DanLish1), the man behind Raekwon’s The Wild album artwork. The illustrations you see in this video are a small fraction of what you can find in his upcoming book: Egostrip Vol 1 – The Essential Hip Hop Art Book, a psychedelic visual history of hip-hop to be enjoyed by the genre’s oldest and youngest fans alike. 

Today is the last day to support Lish's Kickstarter for the incredible project. Click the following link for a copy of your own: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dan-lish/egostrip-book-1 

“I picked up on what inspired me about the artists, whether it be a certain lyric from a classic song or my perception of what may be going through their mind at the moment of creation,” says Lish.

There is much more to be said about all of these artists. For more stories on Common’s catalog, including several more Dilla cuts, stay tuned for the upcoming episode of Then & Now, where we dig deeper into notable tracks in the career of one Lonnie Rashid "Common" Lynn, Jr.

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Courtesy of Biz 3 / FCF

Quavo Is Introducing 'Fan Controlled Football' To The Culture

From their penchant for popping tags and name-dropping designer brands in their rhymes to the obsession with diamond-encrusted neckwear, the Migos are the modern-day poster-children for decadence and opulence. But when it comes to balling, group member Quavo is a seasoned veteran, literally and figuratively. Notorious for his appearances in NBA all-star celebrity games, where he routinely dominates the competition, Huncho has built a rep as one of the athletically gifted hit-makers in music today.

Although he's known for his skills on the hardwood, football is definitely among his passions. His newest endeavor, an ownership stake in Fan Controlled Football (FCF), the first professional sports league to put the viewer in the coach's seat and the general manager's office, in live time, finds him putting his focus back on the gridiron. Having inked an exclusive, multi-year streaming broadcast partnership with Twitch, the FCF will be the first professional sports league to be fully integrated with the streaming platform with the potential to explode in the digital age, where user interest and participation is the main recipe for success.

Having tossed the pigskin around as a Georgia high school football star, to Quavo, it was a no-brainer to get involved with the innovative league on the ground level. “We are building a brand and something different in our league – with the fans. They are in control and get to pick the team names, colors, logos, and more,” said Quavo said in a press release. “I’m really excited because FCF is fast-paced, high-scoring 7v7 football and you are in control. You go from sitting on the couch watching TV and pressing buttons on the remote to actually pressing the buttons on the plays.”

Played on "a 35-yard x 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones,” the Fan Controlled Football league will kick off in February 2021, with a four-week regular season, one week of playoffs, and a Championship week. The league will consist of former elite D-1 athletes, the CFL, XFL, and the Indoor Football League. Broadcasted live from the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility in Atlanta, each game will be 60 minutes in length and will allow the viewers to play a hand in the final outcome on Twitch.

Aside from sports, Quavo has been relatively lowkey on the musical tip as of late, with two years having passed since a solo release or a Migos album. However, according to him, this delay can be considered the calm before the storm, as he assures him and his brethren are primed for one of their biggest years yet. VIBE hopped on the line with Quavo to talk Fan Controlled Football, what he's got cooking in the studio, and his foray into TV and film.

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You're the newest team owner at Fan Controlled Football (FCF). What about the league piqued your interest and made you wanna get involved?

It's just showing my interest in the game of football and just trying to put a twist to where it's fan-controlled, fan-involved. A lot of times we watch the game, you watch the game, you just have some concerns. Sometimes you feel you can make the plays or call the play, [with FCF], you can sit on the couch and make the play. I just think we came together to make something crazy like that. I feel like it's something hard, it's something new, it's something fresh. It's a new beginning to something, like giving ni**as a chance. Giving D-1 players who couldn't make it to the league a chance, giving ex-NFL ni**as a chance if they still got it, [and] to go with the fans. When we saw the Falcons lose the Superbowl LI, we [fans] just knew what plays to call, we knew to run the ball. We were up 28-3. All we had to do was hold the ball, but we wanted to air it out and we made a mistake and lost to Tom Brady. Just like when Marshawn could've won a Superbowl. If they'd have given him the ball on the two-yard line. We knew that Marshawn Lynch was supposed to get the ball, [but] they wanted Russell Wilson to win it and the New England Patriots caught an interception. So that's how we're trying to shape it, we're trying to make something new.

The FCF will be live-streamed exclusively on Twitch, which has become one of the leading platforms for eSports live-streaming and will kick off in February 2021. Do you feel the FCF has the opportunity to fill that NFL void during the spring, particularly given the fan engagement that FCF enables?

Most definitely, cause after the Super Bowl, it just feels like you just want another game. You feel like you want one more game. and coming from something [where it's] eleven on eleven players to seven on seven, I feel [there’s] still a difference. After coming from watching the game and the regular politics, the regular structure of the game, now you're getting to be involved in a game that you can control. You can pick the jersey, you can pick the helmets, you can pick the jerseys, you can pick the coaches, you can pick the plays. I just feel there are two different dynamics [between the NFL and FCF). You come from sitting on the couch and pressing the remote to actually pressing the button on the plays."

Speaking of fan engagement, the FCF is the only professional sports league that enables fans to call the plays in real-time and puts the viewer in control of a game’s outcome like never before. Have you ever had that experience, as far as fantasy football?

Nah, but I'm into Madden. You can sit at home and pick your plays [with FCF], it's just like the lifestyle of Madden. It's like a reality of Madden. You're playing with people at home, with these unique athletes, and it's seven-on-seven.

As an Atlanta native, how significant was the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility being in your hometown in your decision to come on board as an owner?

It's very important. We got top-tier talent here, so it's opening up opportunities for a lot of guys. We're just glad it's in the south, it's like a hub. Everybody loves Atlanta and everybody wanna be here. Everybody wanna play and the weather is good.

NFL Super Bowl Champions Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch, boxing legend Mike Tyson, and YouTuber and podcaster empire Greg Miller are among the FCF's team owners. How does it feel to be competing against some of the most accomplished athletes and entertainers in the world? Have you had the opportunity to meet with any of them?

Most definitely. I have a good relationship with Mike Tyson. I've met Marshawn Lynch, it's a blessing. I feel like we're not competing right now, I feel like we're building a brand. I feel like we're building a league. I feel like we're trying to make the world understand what we're bringing to the table and what type of game we bring to the table, you feel me? I feel we're trying to create something different. Once we get the ball rolling, it's all together and moving into a real FCF league, then we'll get to compete. Of course, we all wanna win, but right now, we're just trying to get the foundation and the basics going and letting the strength of the owners and the relationships show on the field.

Being that you'll all be working with your respective fan bases in shaping your team’s personality and identity, any thoughts about what the team’s name will be? 

Man, I wish I did, but it's so straight strictly fans that you never know. Just like with music, can have an idea that is a smash, and then the fans don't think it is. You gotta strictly listen to the fans on this one. You gotta listen strictly to how they want it because it's the point of the game, that's the point of the league. We gotta let them control this game and then we the players and we the people that's listening to the people, the culture. FCF stands for culture, too, you feel what I'm saying? We listen to the culture, we're letting the culture run the field.

How involved will you be in the drafting and scouting process for your squad?

The fans make the draft, fans get to see everything. Open books, everything. It's an open thing, it ain't nothing to hide over here. The fans control it all.

In addition to sports, you've also been delving into acting, with cameos in shows like Atlanta, Star, Black-ish, and Ballers. Earlier this year, you appeared as yourself in Narcos: Mexico. How did that opportunity come about? 

Narcos reached out. We [Migos] had this song called “Narcos” on the [Culture II] album and we went and shot [the video] in Miami and everybody thought it was a Narcos movie scene and it ended up being Madonna's house. So we just shot that there and then they reached out to us. I think Offset had a performance somewhere and Takeoff had to do something and I just ended up being free that day and I went and shot it in New Mexico. I had fun, I loved it.

Do you have plans to pursue any supporting or leading roles in film or television?

Hell yeah, most definitely. I've been sitting down and having real great meetings with directors and people that got some movies in the works for 2021. I feel like I’ve got some good spots. I don't wanna tell it cause they’re gonna make some announcements. It's coming soon.

It's been two years since you've released a solo project or one with the Migos. Can fans expect any new music from you anytime soon and what are your next plans on that front?

Most definitely, hell yeah, we're shooting videos right now. We’re vaulting up a whole lot of videos so we can give you music and visuals at the same time. “Need It," the song came first and then the video. Right now, we wanna get a lot of videos and a lot records in the vault and smash [them] all at once 'cause it's been two years.

Pop Smoke's passing was one of the more tragic events in rap in recent memory, but his debut album, which you appeared on throughout, has been one of the most successful and acclaimed projects of 2020. How has it been seeing how the album’s been received, especially after you and him developed such a bond in a short time?

I'm happy. I'm proud of him, that was my partner. We did a lot of records, we spent a lot of time together and I feel like the album would've did even more with him being alive. A lot of people's album just go crazy when they die, I feel like his sh*t would've still went crazy. He had the momentum, he had the buzz. He was having fun. He was hot, he was fresh, he had everything ready.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Toots Hibbert performing at Hammersmith Palais, London in 1983.
Photo by David Corio/Redferns

Remembering Toots Hibbert

The best singers don’t need too many words to make their point. Otis Redding could let loose with a sad sad song like “Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa” and get you all in your feelings. Bob Marley got pulses pounding with his “Whoi-yoooo” rebel yell. Gregory Isaacs melted hearts with nothing more than a gentle sigh. Toots Hibbert, who died last Friday at the age of 77, could sing just about anything and make it sound good. One of the world's greatest vocalists in any genre, Toots paired his powerful voice with the understated harmonies of Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Mathias to form The Maytals, a vocal trinity that never followed fashion and remained relevant throughout the evolution of Jamaican music—from the ska era to rock steady straight through to reggae, a genre named after The Maytals' 1968 classic “Do The Reggay.”

Whether they were singing a sufferer’s selection (“Time Tough”), a churchical chant (“Hallelujah”), or the tender tale of a country wedding (“Sweet and Dandy”), The Maytals blew like a tropical storm raining sweat and tears. The lyrics to Six and Seven Books,” one of The Maytals' earliest hits, are pretty much just Toots listing the books of the Bible. “You have Genesis and Exodus,” he declares over a Studio One ska beat, “Leviticus and Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua, Judges and Ruth...” Having grown up singing in his parents' Seventh Day Adventist Church in the rural Jamaican town of May Pen, Toots knew the Good Book well.

The Maytals broke out worldwide in 1966 thanks to the song “Bam Bam,” which won Jamaica's first-ever Independence Festival Song Competition, held during the first week of August as the island nation celebrated both independence from Great Britain in 1862 and emancipation in 1834. They would go on to win the coveted title two more times, but “Bam Bam” was a singular song with a message every bit as powerful as Toots' voice. “I want you to know that I am the man," Toots sang. He was young and strong, ready to "fight for the right, not for the wrong." The trajectory of "Bam Bam" would not only transform Toots' life but make waves throughout popular music worldwide.

"Festival in Jamaica is very important to all Jamaicans," the veteran singer stated in a video interview this past summer while promoting his latest entry into the annual competition. "I must tell you that I won three festivals in Jamaica already, which is “Bam Bam,” “Sweet & Dandy” and “Pomp & Pride.” Toots described that first festival competition as a joyous occasion. "Everybody just want to hear a good song that their children can sing," he recalled. "Is like every artist could be a star."

In 2016, on the 50th anniversary of "Bam Bam" winning first place, Toots looked back over the legacy of the tune that made him a star. "I didn’t know what it means but it was a big deal," he told Boomshots. "You in the music business and you want to be on top and you write a good song and you go on this competition and if they like it then it becomes #1." After The Maytals won, the group was in demand not just all over the island, but all over the world. "We start fly out like a bird," he says with a laugh. "Fly over to London."

"Bam Bam" went on to inspire numerous cover versions, starting with Sister Nancy, Yellowman, and Pliers. It would also be sampled in numerous hip hop classics, and interpolated into Lauryn Hill's "Lost Ones." But according to Toots, he did not benefit financially from these endless cover versions. "People keep on singing it over and over and over, and they don’t even pay me a compliment," he told Boomshots. "I haven’t been collecting no money from that song all now."

 

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“This man don’t trouble no one... but if you trouble this man it will bring a Bam Bam” Original Maytals Classic @tootsmaytalsofficial 🎶 All them a talk, them nuh bad like Niya Fiya Ball ☄️🔥💥 via @tonyspreadlove . 💥💣🔫#Boomshots

A post shared by Word Sound & Power (@boomshots) on Sep 12, 2020 at 8:19am PDT

When Toots began singing in his parents' church, music was not seen as a career prospect, and the profits were slim for Jamaican recording artists in the 1960s. "Those days we get 14 cents for the record to play on the radio," Toots said. "I get three shillings and five shillings for a number one record, which I had 31 number one record in Jamaica... It’s not about money for me. It’s about the quality that Jamaicans need to go back in the festival jamboree... You gotta talk to the children."

On the poignant “54-46 (Was My Number),” Toots recalls the dehumanization of his arrest and 18-month imprisonment at Jamaica's Richmond Farm Correctional Center for what he always insisted was a trumped-up ganja charge just as his music career was taking off. The song's crescendo comes two minutes in when Toots breaks into a scat solo that cannot be translated into any language known to man, delivered with palpable passion that made his message universal. During Toots' ecstatic stage performances he would follow this riff by commanding his band to “Give it to me... one time!” Then the 'd make 'em say Uh!  (Way before Master P!) “Give it to me... two times!” Uh! Uh! And so on and so forth until Toots worked the place into a frenzy.

The Maytals' live show was so explosive that Toots began touring all over the world, opening for rock megastars like The Rolling Stones and The Who. While Bob Marley richly deserved the title King of Reggae, his friend Toots was performing internationally before The Wailers, and remained a force to be reckoned with throughout his life, blazing a trail for generations of reggae artists to follow in his footsteps.

On his Grammy-winning 2004 album True Love, Toots recorded some of his greatest hits with a host of legendary artists, many of whom were also good friends, including Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and Eric Clapton. His 2006 cover of Radiohead's "Let Down" was a favorite of the band's, who used to play it on their tour bus. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood called Toots’ version “truly astounding,” according to Easy Star Records Michael Goldwasser.

Toots supported himself and his family by touring all over the world. During a 2013 show in Richmond, Virginia he was singing John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads" when a teenager in the crowd threw a vodka bottle at the stage and hit him on the head. He suffered a concussion and had to stop touring for several years. As his first album in a decade, Got To Be Tough was highly anticipated when it was released on Trojan Jamaica label August 28. On the cover the former boxer and lifelong fighter can be seen throwing a punch. Just a day after the album dropped, Toots came down with symptoms similar to COVID 19. Within a few days he was hospitalized where doctors placed him into a medically induced coma from which he never recovered. As his Tidal obituary pointed out, he passed away exactly 33 years after his old friend Peter Tosh died by gunfire.

Songs like "Just Brutal" from the hit different now, with Toots pleading for more love in a world gone wrong. "We were brought here," Toots sings. "Sold out. Victimized brutally. Every time I keep remembering what my grandfather said before he died."

“I’m feeling alright,” Toots said the last time we spoke, while he was still sidelined with stress issues due to the bottle-throwing incident. "I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling just cool because is Jah works. You seet?" I asked him if the song "Bam Bam," was about him—a peaceful man who should not be provoked—or else. "Nooo don't trouble him," Toots said with a laugh. "It’s gonna be double trouble, triple trouble. A lot of trouble."

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