I see a feature story about dancehall music, I recommend it. That’s the rule. Even if this profile of Sean Paul is so millennial-skewed that it overlooks massive early hits like “Deport Them” and “Gimme the Light,” it’s still an overdue appreciation of an artist who helped bring the reggae offshoot to new global heights.
Whether it’s at a grimy nightclub or in an auditorium full of emotionally stunted teenagers avoiding eye contact in Dehradun, India, there are a few things likely to occur whenever a D.J. puts on “Get Busy” for a crowd of the right age. There will be squeals of recognition as Paul booms “SHAKE … THAT … THING,” each word with its vertiginous pause. Then the delirious, almost incantatory hand claps will start to register: “It’s the ignition of those butterflies,” he told me. As Paul’s exuberant melodies combine with the boisterous throb of the Diwali riddim, listeners’ hips and waists acquire a sentience of their own, moving as if threatening to secede from the rest of the body.