20 years of Gimme The Light
Sean Paul
Troyton Rami on how he created a buzz

Last Tuesday, the Recording Academy announced nominees for the 64th Grammy Awards. Sean Paul earned a sixth nod in the Best Reggae Album category for Live N Livin.

His latest nomination came 20 years since the release of Gimme The Light, a song that catapulted him to global stardom. Done on the Buzz 'riddim', it was the lead single from Dutty Rock which won the Best Reggae Album category in 2004.

Gimme The Light was co-produced by Troyton Rami and Trevor McKenzie for Black Shadow Records. Spurred by power-play from the influential Hot 97 FM in New York, it peaked at number seven on Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 Chart one year later.

“What I was really trying to do was get Jamaican music in the crossover market. I was trying to figure how to get the American market and Caribbean/Jamaican market to collide... that was my objective,” said Rami in a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer.

From Grange Hill, Westmoreland, Rami is a longtime South Florida resident. At the time he and McKenzie conjured Gimme The Light, he had been producing songs for five years, working on singles with Sean Paul, the Scare Dem Crew and Mr Vegas.

For most of those productions, Rami wanted to emulate the sound that made songs like Flex by Cobra a monster pop hit during the 1990s. When production on the Buzz was complete, the first artiste he approached was one of dancehall's biggest names.

“I took it to Bounty Killer but he said the beat was too fast for his liking. Sizzla was the first artiste to voice on it; he did Wreck har P.. P..,” Rami recalled.

Sean Paul was next up. At the time, his most noted songs were Infiltrate and Hot Gal Today (with Mr Vegas) but that big hit was still elusive for the 'uptown deejay'.

Gimme The Light was recorded at Celestial Studio in Kingston. Rami remembers Sean Paul being extremely focused throughout the session but he was not prepared for the song to become a crossover hit when it was released in Jamaica in late 2001.

While he gave Gimme The Light generous play during his weekly gig at the Rockers Island in Miami, it was not until disc jockey Cipha Sounds of Hot 97 FM passed through that club one night in mid-2002 and requested copies of the single, that momentum began.

“He said, 'Man, this doesn't sound like a dancehall song. This sounds different',” said Rami.

Cipha Sounds played Gimme The Light on his Latin-based Cipha Saturdays show. He passed it on to Funkmaster Flex, the kingpin DJ at Hot 97 FM, who helped propel the song to mainstream glory.

The turning point, according to Rami, was when Chris Chin, president of VP Records, and Murray Elias, head of A&R at that label, contacted him and expressed interest in marketing what became one of the biggest songs for 2002.

“I was watching Billboard and seeing that this record was jumping in the purple. Once it hits the purple you know it's really moving,” said Rami.

Gimme The Light proved the perfect appetiser for Dutty Rock which was released in January 2003 by VP and Atlantic Records. The album was a juggernaut, yielding other hit songs in Like Glue, Baby Boy, Get Busy and I'm Still in Love With You (featuring Sasha).

As for Troyton Rami, Gimme The Light remains his finest moment as a producer. It opened doors for him to work with other acts such as Kevin Little.

Still based in South Florida, his latest productions include songs by Alkaline, Mavado, Buju Banton and Elephant Man.

Troyton Rami
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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