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This is BrukOut! Seani B honours Frankie Paul

ICONIC: Frankie Paul has been hailed as the original master of dancehall, finding fame in the 1980s

THE GLOBAL reggae family recently mourned the passing of Frankie Paul. The singer died from sepsis, which is the presence of bacteria or toxins created by infectious organisms in the bloodstream, which spread throughout the body.

He had been ill for a number of years, and was a patient at the University Hospital of West Indies since April.

For a certain generation (of which I am part of), Frankie Paul defined an era. His incredible output of music and the workings of the Jamaican recording industry meant that not a week went by without a slew of brand new FP tracks. Quite simply, he was one of the main men in the 80’s and 90’s, and someone who benefitted from the digital revolution happening in reggae.

Born Paul Blake in Kingston, he was blind from birth but managed to regain slight vision in his early years.

He spent his early life at the Salvation Army School for the Blind, and while there he met American RnB singer Stevie Wonder who urged him to become a professional singer. Similar to Wonder, he also played a number of instruments including the keyboard.

His first recording came aged 15, and this proved to be the start of a long and very special career.

He honed his craft in the dancehalls across Jamaica, turning his hand and unquetioned ability in order to win the crowd over – different songs, different vocal styles, but with one aim – getting that crowd adulation and that big, bad forward.

The mid 80’s saw Paul lay his signature sound across the world with tracks like “Fire Deh A Mus Mus Tail” and “Worries In The Dance” catapulting him to fame across the global reggae centres.

Undoubtedly one of his biggest hits was the 1984 classic “Pass The Tu-Shung-Peng” which was (and still is) a Ganja anthem.

It was around this time that the notable rock newspaper NME said this about Paul – “Frankie Paul has a voice that improves with each release and, although initially compared with Dennis Brown, he has evolved a strange nasal, throaty style that makes him sound much older. It's the sheer exuberance of his best performances that give away his youthfulness, and his two London appearances have been joyous occasions."

The stage shows were something to behold – hit after hit after hit, and his touring schedule was punishing because demand for him was at an all time high, particularly in the UK.

The Jammys produced “Sara” brought him to an even higher level. It became one of the standard tracks in his set, and seemed to be on the UK reggae charts for what seemed an eternity.

He was resident in Gambia since 1994, and returned to Jamaica in his latter years for treatment of his illnesses, which unfortunately included having his leg amputated in 2016.

He recorded near sixty albums in a career that brought great pleasure to fans around the world.

His influence on a generation of singers and dancehall enthusiasts is without question. Dancehall and reggae was full of characters that made it a unique place in the music market, and Frankie definitely added to that with his unique style.

As a young DJ coming through it was always vital to have the “new” FP tracks floating around, and more often than not it was hard to keep up with how many were around. Like many artists of his era, the quality control sometimes left much to be desired, but the originality and charm never failed to hit home. Frankie is one of the select “go to” artists – when your dance needs a lift, draw for a FP!

He was always happy to converse with fans, pose for pictures and be “with” the people, FP is another one of our stars who has sadly gone too soon. An iconic figure, his legacy shall live for years to come.

BrukOut salutes Frankie “Dancehall” Paul, and thanks him for his tireless work in helping to make the music we love what it is today.

May he rest in eternal peace.

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