UK Hip Hop: Artists & Discographies
Sean Paul - Live @ Ocean, Hackney
Sean Paul - Get Busy
Sean Paul - Get Busy
Platinum selling Sean Paul is one of the biggest Dancehall stars to rise from Jamaica right now and he recently came over to the UK for two dates ONLY. Those of you who were in Sheffield on August 16 2002 at the Brown Street Night Club, for 1Xtra’s Launch night, would already have been lucky to see him perform. Originally scheduled to play only one night the promoters had to add another night due to the sheer demand. Sean Paul is right at the top of his game right now, with two tracks recently topping the charts. I was lucky to attend the Thursday 26th June show, a night where 1Xtra’s Heartless Crew, alongside Spanner Banner & Curtis Lynch Jnr warmed up the crowd to begin with.

Outside it was one of the hottest nights of the year, the buzz was palpable as the expectant crowd mingled with the jos stick sellers and barbeque stall that had been set out. As always Mare St. was plastered in posters, mostly for Sean Paul, but Dizzie Rascal's street team had done him proud too. For some reason that I never found out why, the Ocean venue had a massive hoarding right outside the entrance meaning punters had to file in climbing over its supports. Never the less the security were efficient and made the Ocean a friendly venue to visit. This was the fist time I had been in the large venue at the ocean complex and I was a bit surprised at it's size, it being a touch smaller than I had imagined. The initial shine of the relatively new venue was wearing off, but it is still one of the best spots to visit. The bars are big and accessible, and after being directed upstairs that is where we headed first.

It turned out that Thursday’s night was for 14 years & up and there certainly was a different feel in the auditorium which made me feel a touch too old. The average age must have been between 17-25 and the audience was made up of a wide mix of people. At the beginning it had the feel of a pop concert and by the time I got in the Usual Suspects were playing records. They played plenty of Hip Hop and all the current big tunes, but did drag out the whole thing a bit. The first act up was a young local rapper JMC who burst onto stage and was very energetic from the off. I'm not familiar with him, but he put on a pretty good show to an obviously indifferent audience. He had a male singer and several female dancers and had a pretty much dancehall / reggae backing rather than straight up Hip Hop. The crowd however only really wanted to see one person. After JMC another act came on, who I think was actually introduced as Sean Paul and I missed who he actually was. He sang his was through some absolute classics telling the audience that they were his songs and not the songs of the acts that had made them famous. One of the songs was Butterfly that Chaka Demus & Pliers did. So either it was his riddim, or he was the writer or something. If you are an expert you'll probably know who it is, but I'm not sure, someone will have to let me know. Could it have been Sugar Minott? Anyway he had four backing singers all of whom were a step up from JMC's girls and I for one was feeling him.

We had managed to get a space right at the front of the balcony and had a panoramic view of the audience and yet felt quite close to the stage. By the time Sean Paul came on stage everyone was well ready for it. The volume edged up noticeably and the crowd went mental. What had previously been pretty loud cheering was now something reminiscent of the Beatles as all the girls screamed their hearts out. Sean Paul came on stage in a dark blue pinstripe suit ad matching flat cap. He also had on a black t-shirt and a platignum 'SP' medallion. He is definitely one for the girls as they got constant shout outs and they reciprocated by either screaming louder or swooning. He then went on to run through plenty of his back catalogue, but unfortunately not much of it was familiar to me. He was accompanied on stage by his back up man and two dancers who were more of the athletic / aerobic type, rather than grinders. In fact they did well to keep up the energetic dance steps right the way through out Sean Paul's set.

Sean even ran through some new tracks including and Egyptian influenced track, which went on a bit and one about playa haters and how it has been the ladies who have always supported him. He went on to demonstrate several old skool dances taking it back to the Bogle and even showcased some of the new dances currently out there including the Canoe, and the Chaplin, named after Charlie Chaplin. To round off the show he finished with Gimme The Light and Get Busy - his two biggest tracks. The show ended on a real high with everybody jumping up and going mental.   

My only real complaint for the night is that Reggae shows can long it out between the acts just as well as Hip Hop can. Why not put on more acts, or reduce the expensive £18.50 price and the length of time it goes on for? I don't like the endless announcements that 'so and so will be on stage in five minutes' and then having to wait an hour. It just kills the vibe. If I wanted to go to a disco hosted by DJs that can't shut up and constantly ruin the flow by stopping the tracks and rewinding then that is what I'd go to. If I go to a live show I want to see live acts and be entertained. I can play records better than they did at home.

The following extra night, Friday 27 June, became an over 18’s only job and with doors open till 3am also became ‘The Aftershow Party Night’ with ticket prices raised to £20. Can't say how that went down, but Sean did a good show for me and the overall vibe was one of people who are out for a good time rather than get moody.

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