In 1997, Sean Paul was striving for the big league when he performed in Boston. It was the deejay's first time performing in a 'professional' setting in the United States and the person responsible for that was Lion Face.
A veteran sound system selector and music producer, the Trinidad-born Lion Face also pulled strings for the Jamaican artiste's debut New York performance three years later at Club Warehouse in Brooklyn.
Forever grateful, Sean Paul presented him with a plaque marking three million copies sold of his Grammy-winning ‘Dutty Rock’ album on November 16 at Webster Hall in New York.
Lion Face was one of the selectors in the United States who played songs from that album when it was released 20 years ago.
"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.
The Webster Hall show celebrated Dutty Rock’s 20th anniversary and saw a number of people who helped make it a success in attendance. Heading the list was Murray Elias, the A&R man who also organised the event, as well as disc jockeys from Hot 97 FM and executives from VP Records which distributed the album with Atlantic Records.
‘Dutty Rock’, which spawned five Top 10 hit songs including ‘Gimmie The Light’, ‘Like Glue’ and ‘Get Busy’, won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2004.
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.
When he first met Sean Paul in 1994, he was a senior selector with the formidable King Addies sound system in New York.
Lion Face's latest production is the Xcel 'riddim' which features songs by Rayvon, Mr Easy, Tanto Metro and Devonte and newcomer Kaream Kharizma. It is scheduled for release November 23.