Milestone moment for Dutty Rock
Lion Face (left) and Sean Paul at the 20th anniversary party for the deejay's Dutty Rock album at Webster Hall in New York on November 16.

IN recognition of his landmark Dutty Rock album turning 20, Sean Paul kept a big party for some of the people who helped make it, arguably, the best-ever dancehall project.

That event took place on November 16 at Webster Hall in New York. Organised by veteran A&R man Murray Elias and Hot 97 FM, it was a rewarding evening of reflection.

Among the acknowledged was Lion Face, an influential sound system selector and music producer who introduced Sean Paul to the American market in the late 1990s. A pumped-up Sean Paul presented him with a commemorative plaque which also celebrated Dutty Rock reaching three million copies sold in the United States.

The Trinidad-born Lion Face first met the deejay in Florida in 1994. Three years later, he put Sean Paul on his first US gig, at 3 C's Club in Boston.

He also pulled strings for the Jamaican artiste's debut New York performance at Club Warehouse in Brooklyn in 2000.

When Dutty Rock was released in November 2002 by VP Records, Lion Face, and disc jockeys at Hot 97 FM consistently jammed its songs which included the top-10 hits Gimmie The Light, Get Busy, Like Glue, I'm Still in Love With You, and Baby Boy.

It won Best Reggae Album at the 2004 Grammy Awards.

"Dutty Rock was one of the great albums that contributed to the breakthrough of dancehall. It played on all major radio stations over the world, growing the dancehall fans. Every song on that album rocked clubs in dances wherever I played," he said.

Lion Face was born Richard Thomas. He spent his early years in Trinidad and Tobago and the United States Virgin Islands, then moved to New York City where his appreciation for Jamaican culture grew.

In the Big Apple, he made his name with the dominant King Addies sound system and later branched out into music production.

Lion Face's latest production is the Xcel 'rhythm' which features songs by Rayvon, Mr Easy, Tanto Metro and Devonte, and newcomer Kaream Kharizma. It was released yesterday.

Howard Campbell

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