Nuh leave ya tonight and gwaan like you nuh hear
Nuh stiffen up your neck and gwaan like you no care
Cause dat could a be your biggest nightmare
Mr. Poor, Mr. Middle Class and Millionaire
A one soul you have and you don’t have a spear
A neutral you neutral start find a gear
And ready fi the flight mek wi get out a here
The trump shall sound and Jesus appear
The dead in Christ shall rise from everywhere
And we shall be caught up and meet Him in the air
Any when Jesus deh yu know seh I will be there"
-from "Fly Away"
Dancehall superstar Papa San (aka Tyrone Thompson) has a story to tell stories have always been his thing. With his fast-flowing, rapid-fire Jamaican patois-infused delivery combined with his gift for lyricism, he’s gained myriads of fans over the years through his multiple appearances at Sting, at the renowned Reggae Sunsplash Festival in Jamaica, and elsewhere on the dancehall circuit. In short, his reggae credentials are impeccable.
Following his acceptance of Jesus Christ in 1997, his story has been the Gospel, pure and simple. Anyone who has caught up with Rev. Jackie McCullough’s debut recording, This is For You Lord, will recall his cameo in support of Lawrence Matthews’ smooth vocals on “Be Connected”. If you’ve heard it, any questions on why Papa San has been called ‘the fastest mouth in Jamaica” are quickly laid to rest.
With his debut project, Victory, on B-Rite Music, Papa San continues with his wildly ingenious dancehall flow, opening his heart, glorifying God, offering hope to the masses, and providing the party album of the year to boot.
The album highlights are many. On “Touch From You”, he joins up with Chevelle Franklin (herself a former dancehall queen turned Gospel artist), as she provides a smooth R&P vocal base to Papa's lyrical delivery, generating perhaps the most accessible sound on the album for those ears unaccustomed to island ways.
The guest appearance becomes high profile on “Jah Mercy”, as Shabba Ranks joins in the celebrations, the result being a joyous back and forth chatting session with Papa San. And perhaps ‘the cut’ of the project is “Fly Away Home”, a brilliant soft reggae interpretation of the famous spiritual, with saxophone highlights from Tony Green, a full harmony chorus, and a sampling of the reggae classic, “Pressure and Slide”.
On the title track, “Victory”, Papa brings a classic reggae style to the mix (by way of significant incorporation of elements from Bob Marley’s classic “Hypocrite”). The song says straight out that the only solution for his brothers and sisters (i.e. the only way for the victory that they strive for), is in the person of Jesus Christ.
Production on the album is stellar, and for the most part, is the work of Papa San and long-time associate Noel Browne. However, Armando Colon steps in for co-production on three songs, (“Touch From You”, “First Him” and “As A Christian”), so it is understandable that the vibe on these ones takes on a little more of a hiphop and rhythm spin than the others.
Regardless of whether you understand the reggae dancehall style, and no matter whether you can figure out the heavy chat or not, the one truth that comes shining through with Papa San is his sincerity and his obviously deep and new-found joy and love for Jesus Christ.
A very beautiful thing.
— reviewed by Stan North —
in GospelFlava © copyright 1999. Any information reprinted