8 November 2012

Uganda: Déjà Vu for Sean Paul

Photo: Wikipedia
Jamaican star Sean Paul

Grammy award-winning Jamaican dancehall whiz Sean Paul might have held a highly successful show here before but it won't be an all-familiar situation as he ascends the stage at the Lugogo Cricket Oval tonight.

For starters, Sean Paul is no different from other Jamaican artistes, at least from the Ugandan perspective. Jamaican artistes get a lot of love from Uganda because our local music industry is largely founded on Jamaican styles.

So, Sean Paul had a certain assurance that his 2004 Easter concert at the Nile (now Serena) hotel gardens would be a sell-out. Already, his fellow Jamaicans - including Shaggy, Chaka Demus & Pliers had become frequent performers in Kampala.

Yet Sean Paul was better placed. At the time, the Temperature star was arguably one of the most trending artistes in the world. The success of his second [and breakthrough] album, Dutty Rock, released in 2002, had turned him into an international celebrity.

Most of the singles off that album, most notably Gimme the Light, Get Busy, Like Glue, Baby Boy (Ft Beyonce), Breathe (Ft Blu Cantrell) and I'm Still in Love (Ft Sasha) earned him a cult following in Uganda.

Such talent was simply irresistible. Thousands of Ugandans turned up to see the dancehall sensation whose multi-ethnicity and recent wedding is another story altogether.

Awed by the huge fan base, Sean Paul promised he would be back. Eight years on, that promise will be fulfilled this Friday at the 'Sean Paul Live in Concert'. But like The Observer writes today, it's much more than just another 'Sean Paul show in Uganda'.

The eight-year time gap aside, many other things [about Sean Paul himself and the music industry at large] have since changed and will either favour or impede the Lugogo fete.

Let's begin with the positive ones. Talent Africa and Club beer, the brains behind the concert, say the fact that the 39-year-old ragamuffin has been here before will work to their advantage.

"Ugandans are hungry for Sean Paul," says Claire Louise, Talent Africa's administration manager. "At least those who watched him in 2004 know what he is capable of and still want to watch him."

Louise further acknowledges that Sean Paul inspired many of the current local dancehall acts, including Peter Miles, Margla, Rabadaba, and Sizzaman to mention but a few. This too, she's confident, will draw audiences.

"Many of our artistes and their fans look up to him," Louise said, explaining that only Chameleone, Peter Miles, Jackie Chandiru, Navio and the Goodlyfe duo will get the coveted chance of sharing the stage with Sean Paul.

Clearly, Sean Paul has maintained his reputation as a dominant force in the dancehall/reggae genre. As was the case with Dutty Rock, the mohawked singer's fifth and most recent album, Tomahawk Technique is swiftly topping charts across the world within mere months of its release.

It is especially the singles Got 2 Luv U (ft Alexis Jordan), She Doesn't Mind and How Deep is you Love (ft Kelly Rowland) that have taken Ugandans by storm. Many hence can't wait to see the hunky crooner perform them live.

But then, Sean Paul is up against some serious obstacles. Top on the list is the harsh economic times and a suspicious sense of timing. At such a time when people are saving for the Christmas season, spending on such a gig is the last thing on many people's minds.

Sean Paul's popularity in Uganda also seems to have declined over the years, thanks to the new kids on the block. Many Ugandans would rather save their money for the late December show, featuring two more trending Jamaican starts- Mavado of One by One fame [ft Laza Morgan] and Christopher Martin of Paper Loving. Otherwise, all is set for tonight. Tickets are now on sale at Shs 25,000 and Shs 75,000 for VIPs.

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