Sean Paul – MFCC Ta’ Qali, Mosta 14th August

Mobo and Grammy Award winner Sean Paul, now firmly established in the rhythm and blues scene was eagerly expected in Malta. Here, the rhythm and blues scene has slowly but surely been making inroads with Bay Radio and X-FM hosting specialised shows. Malta has also been hosting its own rappers, hip-hop and rhythm and blues artistes too, and indeed, MC Green, Sixth Simfoni and Baresine have had their fair share of local success too. Add to that the ever-increasing African refugee population and rhythm and blues has thus carved its own niche in quite a short time too. At the Malta Conference Centre, Ta’ Qali, the presence of Sean Paul attracted some 3500 people, mostly rhythm and blues punters. I figure out that a tenth of them were Africans, immigrant refugees or Afro-American/ Afro-European tourists. It was also quite a harmonious night too.

Sean Paul was accompanied by a six piece band, with two drummers/percussionists and two guitarists. The whole effect was grand though only within the context of those who love this genre. The mixture of rhythm and blues, dancehall and ragga, drawn from the likes of Shabba Ranks, Super Cat and Spragga Benz among many others, is in some way unique and not surprising, as the man is Jamaican. He has by and large managed to develop his own unique style and this was also quite evident during this massive live show, which worked out very well thanks to his constant linking with the audience. The delivery, concise, strident and bouncy is a main asset in Sean Paul’s work.

The big drawback in his music is that it all sounds the same, but this is something that seems to have become the norm and not the exception in this genre, even in rhythm and blues and this hurts, not least when it comes from an artiste like Sean Paul, who has been influenced by blues, soul and of course, reggae from his native Jamaica. Sean Paul’s music has a lot of potential but it seems as if he is more comfortable in the hit and grind styles, interspersed with bits and pieces of reggae.

Sean Paul can continue Bob Marley’s legacy in reggae music but of course, reggae is no longer the favourite music of many Afro-Americans or maybe, it was forced out by the media, which is really sad. Nonetheless, the audience was all enthusiastic as Sean Paul and co. belted hits like We Be Burning, Temperature, Give It Up To Me, and Never Gonna Be The Same. His new songs, notably Give It To You and Watch Them Roll, have some hint of melody rather than the same repetitive, strident arrangements. Well, this was the night r’n’b ravers had all been waiting for.

Sean Paul certainly didn’t let them down. And of course, for many lovers of his genre, he remains the cool and sexy icon, and still looking much younger than 35.

This event was part of the music campaign supported by The General Soft Drinks Company Ltd., titled 'Coke Music'.

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