Dancehall has had several standard-bearers since emerging as a reggae subgenre in the late ‘70s and early ’80s, but few have contributed more to its global popularity than Sean Paul. The charismatic performer from Kingston, Jamaica, captivated fans during a recent show at The Fillmore Silver Spring.
Catchphrases can galvanize a crowd, and “Sean da Paul” is one of Sean Paul’s most famous lines, or so we thought. Recently, he revealed that the signature phrase isn’t him referring to himself in the third person but a shout-out to Guyanese cricket star Shivnarine Chanderpaul. We learned this during his April 16 show. So, during the beginning of his “Like Glue” performance, he was saying “Chanderpaul” — mind blown!
“Like Glue,” from Sean Paul’s 2003 Dutty Rock album, is among my favorites, but “Get Busy” launched him into superstardom. The song spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and contributed to Sean Paul’s 2004 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. Paul performed “Get Busy” during the show, along with other crowd pleasers from Dutty Rock, including “I’m Still in Love with You” and “Gimme the Light.”
Watch the official music video for “Gimme the Light” by Sean Paul on YouTube:
The success of Dutty Rock made Sean Paul one of the most sought-after reggae stars. In the following years, he collaborated with some of the biggest names in music. During the concert, Paul performed “Baby Boy” from Beyoncé’s debut solo album, Dangerously in Love, and the massive hit “Bailando” from Enrique Iglesias’s Sex and Love album. These songs and countless others helped expand the appeal of dancehall beyond the Caribbean. Today, Sean Paul’s list of features is a who’s who of popular music.
Before Sean Paul became a global superstar, he was a Kingston youth working odd jobs. His passion for music and perseverance provided the vision to take the blueprints developed by dancehall pioneers like Shabba Ranks, Supercat, and Shaggy to architect his place in music. During the Silver Spring show, Paul performed “Hot Gyal Today,” “Infiltrate,” and “Deport Them,” — tunes familiar to his day-one dancehall fans.
The term “dancehall” originally referred to the venues in Jamaica where sound systems fueled an upbeat culture driven by deep basslines and rapid-fire lyrics. Sean Paul embodied this energy during his dynamic performance. His background dancers enhanced the vibe with choreographed routines that were, at times, acrobatic and eye-catching.
At The Fillmore Silver Spring, Sean Paul performed many throwback hits, but the reggae star wasn’t ready to ride the nostalgia train. He also performed songs from his recently released album Scorcha, including the title track, his collaboration with Gwen Stefani, “Light My Fire,” and “Dynamite” (feat. Sia).
Watch the official music video for “Scorcha” by Sean Paul on YouTube:
Only two reggae artists (Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff) are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sean Paul’s impact on not only the genre but music in general, combined with the showmanship displayed during his performance at The Fillmore Silver Spring, are solid arguments for induction into the Rock Hall. After all, he is the only Jamaican artist to have won an American Music Award (2006) for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist. In the meantime, Sean Paul continues to be a force in the music industry — Chanderpaul!
Here are some photos from the Sean Paul show at The Fillmore Silver Spring on April 16, 2023. All photos are copyright and courtesy of Will Colbert.