With one verse Omari “Wally Kyat” George forever changed the Virgin Islands music scene. While demure in nature, the lyrical genius that is Wally Kyat is a force to be reckoned with on the mic. No other VI artiste in recent years has been able to combine wit and truth in such a way that both appeals to the masses and calls to attention the issues in society that must be addressed. After witnessing his electrifying performance at the first annual Virgin Islands Peace Concert back in August, there is no doubt that Wally Kyat is definitely a reason why music matters. Three years after his emergence on the scene, we finally chat with this VI star about his biggest accomplishments to date, and the song that started it all.
WBM: Who is Omari “Wally Kyat” George?
OMARI: Born May 21st, 1987 to Marcia “Marcy” Roebuck & Ashley “Ashanti” George. I was raised on St. Thomas in the neighborhood of Berg’s Home (Round de Field). Graduated from CAHS in 2005 and later on that same year, started my employment at VI WAPA [Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority] as a Lineman. In 2008 I was sent to college (DeVry University) by the authority, where I studied Electronics Engineering. Graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in my major, now I’m back at WAPA as an Engineering Technician fulfilling the terms of my contract.
I think I’m observant, like learning new things….I can be sometime-ish at times, in the sense that I gain & lose interest in things quickly. I don’t know…It’s not looking good…
WBM: Why the name Wally Kyat?
OMARI: The name Wally was given to me in my childhood by my peers. The name had no good meaning to it and was given to me because that’s what I called everyone in torment, “You is ah Wally.” The name “Kyat” was actually given to me by the public. I only used the local term to later rhyme with another ending word in the next line:
“Yeah I from the V.I, yeah they call me Wally Kyat
Representing from the field, give the projects lot of props.”
Since then, I think the public believed it to be something of a first and last name rather than just Wally.
WBM: Wally Kyat became a household name in the Virgin Islands in 2010, but how did you get your start in the industry, and how long have you been doing music on a professional level?
OMARI: Honestly, doing music was like an experiment that blew up unexpectedly. It all started in the WAPA line department locker room where I would make up things to say about my co-workers. I would take true events that was [sic] happening in the authority and put it in a song most likely to dis or annoy a fellow co-worker. Being that I was the smallest in the locker room, and was picked on because of my size & age (18), music was my only defence.
Before I was known, I had never messed with music at all. I didn’t even know what a bar was until I first spoke to N’ergi. I learned everything I know as I went along.
WBM: You are probably best known for your song “Deh Introduction” on Ricky Blaze’s Hold Yuh Riddim. What made you decide to pen and voice this song?
OMARI: My co-worker Kirt Lettsome was the one that got me started. He basically wanted me to get out of the WAPA locker room and get on the streets. When I first decided to do it, I actually wrote it to “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys after listening to Rock City’s (Planet VI) version of the song, “V.I. State of Mind.” I came home for a break from college but didn’t get to record the song, and by the time I got another break, the beat was old and played out, so I had to make adjustments. Anyone that knows music can tell that the flow is the same from “Empire State of Mind,” just was placed on the Hold Yuh Riddim beat.
WBM: “Deh Introduction” is a brutally honest assessment of the state of the territory (USVI) from your perspective. When you heard the finished product for the first time, how did you think the public would react and/or receive it?
OMARI: The first time I heard the finished product I was kind of annoyed by the sound of my voice. That was the first time I had ever been in a studio, and it felt really weird hearing my voice play back to me over & over again.
As far as the public’s reaction, I had no intentions to put it out so the public’s perception wasn’t a factor. I know getting heard by the public was the goal in the beginning, but I was content with myself for just doing it. A few months later, while stateside, my co-worker called and woke me up saying “Tony-T about to play your song on the radio.” I wasn’t really enthused until I actually heard it on the radio. They were on that one song for about 35 minutes, starting it over & over again. I was shocked and excited at the same time. I was shocked because I had no plans to share it publicly, and excited because of the public’s reaction to the song. I can still remember telling my roommate that’s my voice on the radio. That moment made me start to kind of like the sound of my voice…just a little.
WBM: Having put a spotlight on several pressing issues plaguing Virgin Islands’ society, what plans, if any, do you have to bring about a positive change?
OMARI: I never thoroughly thought of any plans.
WBM: Why does what you do matter?
OMARI: I think what I do matters because I say the things everyone has been saying or thinking for years. The difference is when I do it, the people are heard and issues are brought to light.
WBM: Define success
OMARI: Success to me is when you have completed all of your goals and are happy in the position you are in.
WBM: Biggest Accomplishment to date?
OMARI: I feel that my biggest accomplishment is graduating from college with my Bachelor’s in Electronics Engineering. My life used to be a house with a few halls but now it’s a mansion with many doors.
WBM: If you were one song from a VI artiste other than yourself, what song would you be and why?
OMARI: If I were a song by a V.I artist, I think I would be “Let Dem Know” by K-Victoria. I chose this song because of the message it brings. Never let someone’s judgment of you determine your destiny. You’re an elevator, a survivor, excel, and float higher.
WBM: So what’s next?
OMARI: I’m just going with the flow with no flight direction. Knowing me, something new always comes out of the blue.
WBM: If you could teach one thing to someone looking to pursue their dreams, what would it be?
OMARI: I would teach them to accept criticism. Accepting criticism may seem to be a simple lesson but is one of the hardest struggles to most. If it’s not what they want to hear, they don’t want to hear it at all. Just listen sometimes.
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