Macka B Goes Viral With “Cucumber”
“Detox, fiber, good regulator!”
At the start of 2017, veteran English reggae star Macka B started releasing videos on his social media accounts about eating healthy. Macka B is a vegan, and at first he would spend these simple clips explaining why you should use ginger to treat an upset stomach instead of reaching for the Pepto-Bismol, or extolling the virtues of clothing made from hemp. You know, the same type of natural healthcare shpiels you can get at any farmers’ market.
Then Macka B did an installment of his What Me Eat Wednesday series in late January dedicated to avocados. Sitting in his home, Macka B split its pale green flesh with a knife and began delivering acapella lyrics, “Full of nutrients, full flavor/ More potassium than a banana/ Good for your heart, look at that/ Minor unsaturated fat.”
He continued these lyrical approaches as What Me Eat Wednesday also begat Medical Mondays, but then came his ode to the cucumber. Or as it’s known in Jamaica, “cucumba.” Over 50 entrancing seconds, Macka B recounted 15 health benefits of the seemingly innocuous vegetable, like “95% Water, kidney cleanser, great hydrator” and “Another surprise, put a slice on your eyes/ Take away the dryness, revitalize.” It’ll totally sell you on cucumbers to the point that you’ll forget all the times they’ve distracted you from enjoying a salad.
MEDICAL MONDAY ‘CUCUMBER’ Cucumber Cucumber Vitamins, Minerals very high number, Silica, Hair and Nails get longer, Other Vitamins make your bones dem stronger, Anti wrinkle make you look younger 95% Water,Kidney Cleanser,great hydrater, Detox,Fiber, good regulator, Give your body good things don’t be a traitor Get the Cucumber cut it inna slice Put it inna jug of water overnight, You know what you get for a fraction of the price, Energy drink full of electrolytes Raw inna salad is one of the use Or as a base for your Vegetable juice Another surprise, put a slice on your eyes Take away the dryness revitalize Oh Yes one thing I have left Cucumber can also help with bad breath Wash away the Bacteria that cause the odour Cucumber water instead of Soda #medicalmonday #vegan #cucumber #ital #italisvital #healthiswealth #healthyeating #rasta #reggae
Two weeks since its release, the cucumber clip has been watched over 2.2 million times on Facebook alone and even Tracee Ellis Ross recently reposted it on her Instagram account, eliciting a comment from none other than Tina Knowles. Simply put, Macka B’s “Cucumba” is blowing up and he’s subsequently released a remix version of his tribute to cucumbers (now available on iTunes).
Mass Appeal spoke with Macka B over Skype from his home in London to learn more about these videos, how his diet has changed over the years and why he became a vegan in the first place.
Why did you start doing the Medical Mondays and Wha Me Eat Wednesday videos?
It was the Wha Me Eat Wednesdays first, because in 2008 I did a song called “Wha Me Eat,” telling people the different kinds of foods that vegans can eat. Sometimes when you tell people you don’t eat meat, fish or dairy, they don’t think there’s anything else. I decided to make a song and tell how much things you could eat. It’s a popular song. Wherever I do it in the world, it goes down very well.
We had the idea of doing a Wha Me Eat Wednesday, introducing people to a vegan meal. To try a vegan meal, you might be pleasantly surprised and it might take you into a different kind of lifestyle. It’s generally promoting healthy eating, through fruits and vegetables, because they’ve got a lot of medicinal benefits. We started with the Wha Me Eat Wednesdays and it was going well, so we decided to do Medical Mondays, which is similar to the Wha Me Eat Wednesdays, but it includes eating things like spices and herbs and all these kind of things that have medicinal values.
It started to go really well until the cucumba one, which started to blow up. That’s where we are now.
How long does it take to write these songs and how much research do you have to do?
A likkle bit of research goes into it, but most of it is what I know already. All the foods that you hear me talk about are foods that I actually eat. That’s probably why it comes over so well. I know the effects of it and I know the benefits of it.
I chose the food on the same day [as the recording]. I get up early in the morning, maybe four o’clock. That’s a good time to write lyrics, everything’s quiet. It’s just you and the birds, so it’s nice, you get the good vibes. I find the lyrics just flow at that time. In the daytime, we just perform it.
How long have you maintained a vegan diet?
About 15 years I would say, but I stopped eating meat when I was 16. It’s about 40 years without eating meat. That’s a long time ago. I continued to eat the fish and dairy products, but I used to get bad stomach aches and I didn’t know what it was. Then I found out I was lactose intolerant, so I cut out the dairy products and I haven’t had any stomach aches since. I give thanks for that.
What was the inspiration when you were 16 to go vegetarian?
I was just getting into Rastafari at the time. Rastas talk a lot about the Ital diet and vegetarianism. I was having a pie, to be honest, it was a meat pie. For some reason, I just connected the meat pie to the animal, thinking, “This is really an animal I’m eating.” I didn’t feel too well. From then I just decided to stop, I didn’t look back from then.
It feels like within the last few years, I don’t want to say it’s become fashionable, but more and more people are adopting vegan diets. Why do you think people are going in that reaction?
Well, there’s ethical reasons and there are a lot of medical reasons. There are a lot of people getting sick and going to a lot of funerals. The people who are passing away are getting younger and younger. It can directly be attributed to what we are putting into our mouths. There’s a lot of chemicals in the food, it’s not really good for us.
Also, the health system doesn’t seem to be working. In England, NHS [the National Health Service], it’s in a mess. It’s all over the news and people are seeing these things. The doctors haven’t got enough time for the patients, so people have to take it into their own hands. We always say that prevention is better than cure, health is wealth. I think people are realizing this and starting to take it a bit more serious and are starting to realize that what they put into their mouths can be detrimental to or benefit their health.
In the U.S., it can feel like we’re in health crisis in terms of people’s diets, especially among children. What do you think is the first change that people should make? Is it limiting sugar? Is it eating organically?
It’s really down to the individual. Some people are eating too much sugar. Some people they are eating too much meat. The first thing is to get the mindset, just to think about it. That’s the great reaction I’m getting from these videos. They were thinking about it for a long time, now they’re trying to take the step and become vegan or just thinking about limiting certain thing, like limiting the chemicals. The first thing is to just create that spark and then people can take it accordingly.
Do you advocate a vegan diet for everyone?
It’s your situation, it’s your call. Personally, I think it’s a better way. One thing with me, why people are gravitating towards the videos, I’m not saying, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” I’m more saying, “Look at this over here, it’s very healthy, it tastes good and it’s really good for you.” People are gravitating towards that, and I’m saying it with a bit of humor. You find that when you put humor into something, it breaks down the barriers. You can run around telling people, “Stop eating meat! Stop eating meat!” They’ll just put up a fence and carry on. But if you can make them smile a likkle bit or make them think about it a likkle bit, then it’s easier.