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VAS

Riding on riddims

PULSE
By | March 11th 2011

Those who may have brushed off the growing popularity of Riddim got a reality check with the big turnout at Cecile Charlton’s show writes MATILDA NZIOKI

The spacious Carnivore Grounds appeared to shrink swiftly as soon as the gates were swung open for the Jamdown Concert last Saturday as growing fans of the riddim driven culture poured in for a night of Caribbean treat.

Nairobi has officially been labelled the African Dancehall capital, having hosted more Jamaican stars in the last year, as compared to any other place in the continent. The fad kicked off with launch of Uptown Thursdays, a Dancehall night featuring new school reggae at Rezourus club in Nairobi’s Westlands almost two years ago and a growing number of youth have been initiated to the craze — at the expense of other music genres.

Gone are the days when this kind of music was associated with rowdy and obish youth. Classy-looking fans of up to middle age checked in early to secure a vantage spots in order to catch a glimpse of the action.

Curtain raisers

Enjoying their libations, the fans were served up with dancehall riddims by Homeboyz DJs John, GMoney, Hassan and Kafi. The dancing slowed down upon the coming of the first act on stage.

The fans got more than they bargained for as the curtain-raising artiste had also jetted in from Jamaica. This was none other than D Major, a reggae new artiste well rated in his homeland. He is known for the song Party Like It’s Your Birthday, a collaboration with Richie Loop and Busy Signal.

Starting with a remix of DJ Khaled’s All I do Is Win, he quickly transited to Song For The World on the Golden Gate Riddim. He also performed Cry No More, Love Song, Real Fenz featuring Chris Martin and his hit Formula. The masses were relaxed, as the many in attendance were not conversant with some of his music. This was definitely the calm before the storm. Just as D Major was heading backstage and the line "If you can’t love me now don’t love me later..." rented the air via the massive speakers, the crowd was thrown into a frenzy.

Martin on stage during the Jamdown.

Donning Gideon boots and a khaki silky suit, Christopher Martin burst into the dais to earn his pay with the song the Vibe Is Right off the much loved Street Bullies Riddim and flowed onto Take my wings, I’ll be your Driver, My Ex Girl, Watch Me Lord, as an accapella accompanied by a guitar among other songs.

Too hot

When the in the heat in the kitchen became too much, Martin took off his shirt and was left bare-chested, leaving the ladies ogling.

Martin knew how to connect with the fans, addressing them with local terms such as Wasupa and Safi sana.

Just when the sultry voiced cute boy was about to leave the stage, the fans yelled asking for the song Paper Loving. The audience could not let him go without performing his latest Kenyan hit. And off went the lights to conclude his act almost an hour later. Time seemed to simply fly.

A quick music mix allowed for transition and then it was the turn for Bad Gyal to rock the scene. Dimmed lights showed her silhouette and Nigerian singer 9con got the honours to unwrap her from her cloak, exposing her naughty outfit of shiny nude body hugging suit and red ankle glittery boots.

Screams filled the heavens and her hit Look For Me off the Pleasure Riddim could barely be heard. Jamaican flags waved higher as the sensational musician went straight to perform Ride or Die, Home Tonight, Boyfriend, When You’re Gone and others to the singing crowd.

The lady, accompanied by three Kenyan dancers sang her heart out, obviously sweating profusely. This called for a change of clothes to another revealing boyish all-black look of a tank top and cropped pants, and rocked on.

Lucky fan

A fan, ‘Mike from Ruai’ who has been sending Cecile messages on Twitter since learning of her coming to the country finally got his love reciprocated as Cecile called him on stage and grinded him with an intense dance. Local neo soul musician Anto joined them, and the two sandwiched the Jamaican star while sending the crowd into ecstasy with the dance moves.

She went on to add spice to her performance with Wyre joining her to sing their collabo remix of Wyre’s She say Dat.

Wyre had taught Cecile a local move, the migingo dance with which they entertained fans together.

Right after Wyre performed his reggae song Uprising with Sakata dance judge Ian, the three Jamaicans concluded with a joint performance of Bob Marley’s One Love. "Thank you Kenya," Cecile said and paved way for riddims off the DJ’s decks at around 2 am.

‘Bad Gyal’ indeed. What with lyrics such as "See if me want him girl you nah get him back...me take your man so easy..." or "Can I take you home tonight... I’m coming on strong boy I hope you don mind..." and also "...Girl you shoudda seen me and your boyfriend... you should be proud coz you taught him well..."

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