Sean Paul, Shaggy Headline 'Strictly The Best' Concert/Tribute to Late VP Records Exec Joel Chin
Sean Paul, Shaggy Headline 'Strictly The Best' Concert/Tribute to Late VP Records Exec Joel Chin

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A flyer for the Strictly the Best concert/tribute to the late Joel Chin at B.B. Kings in New York.

Sean Paul and Shaggy were the headliners at an all-star dancehall reggae concert on Dec. 14 commemorating the late Joel Chin, Director of A&R at VP Records. The event, held at midtown Manhattan's BB Kings nightclub, featured Gyptian, Mr. Vegas, Demarco, Wayne Marshall, and Laza Morgan.

Joel Chin, 35, the nephew of VP Records President Chris Chin, and CEO Randy Chin and son of noted reggae producer Clive Chin, was fatally shot as he alighted from his car in front of his Kingston, Jamaica home on Aug. 16. Among his numerous accomplishments, Chin signed Sean Paul to VP; was the A&R for singer/songwriter Tarrus Riley's acclaimed album "Parables" and played a pivotal role in the success of the "Strictly the Best" reggae's longest running compilation series.

The Joel Chin tribute concert also celebrated the Nov. 22 release of the new "Strictly The Best" album. Since its inauguration in 1993, STB has annually showcased the finest in dancehall and roots reggae. This year's STB Volume 44 highlights veteran and contemporary reggae singers while deejays and dancehall hits are featured on volume 45; each edition has spent three weeks on the Reggae chart, this week residing at No. 10 and No. 7 respectively.

"Joel only wanted clean uplifting songs on STB so I want to maintain the series as a family oriented compilation," said Neil "Diamond" Edwards, VP's Director of A&R based at their Queens, NY offices. Edwards chose the STB tracks alongside Chin. "We were compiling STB at the time of his passing. STB was his vision so we will keep his name on as the series' executive producer."

DJ Norie, the host of "Anything Goes-Caribbean Edition" on New York City's WWPR 105.1 FM and the promoter of the STB concert alongside VP Records, energized BB Kings' near capacity crowd, relentlessly hyping up a spirited selection of dancehall and soca hits. However, Norie never lost sight of the occasion's ultimate purpose: he called for and achieved a moment of silence, a considerable feat among an alcohol-fueled audience at 1 AM, in observance of Chin's life. "Joel Chin helped my career and everyone around him," Norie stated. "He really knew how to pick talent. He made "Strictly The Best" what it is so you have to show respect for what he did."

Shaggy, a 2012 nominee for the Best Reggae Album Grammy for his digital EP "Summer in Kingston," which topped the Reggae tally two weeks after its July 16 release, isn't featured on either volume of STB this year; admittedly, dancehall's best selling artist to date had few interactions with Chin as A&R exec., yet he was eager to participate in the STB concert, cutting short a visit to Turks and Caicos to do so.

"I remember Joel as a kid when I used to go to the VP retail store (in Queens) and buy records," Shaggy recalled following his crowd-pleasing, hit filled performance that easily vacillated between his gritty Brooklyn dancehall roots and his polished, cosmopolitan cool. "This concert is a great gesture among the reggae fraternity," Shaggy acknowledged. "STB is an avenue for many artists to showcase their music and Joel was such an important part of that, it's a no-brainer for me to be here."

The BB Kings crowd enthusiastically sang along to the catchy refrain of sing-jay Demarco's self-produced, upbeat dancehall hit "Love My Life", included on STB Volume 45.

But it was Demarco's 2008 no. 1 Jamaican hit, the somber "Fallen Soldier", dedicated to Chin that provided the most profound moment of his entertaining set.

More dance oriented than dancehall Sean Paul's duet with Roc Nation singer Alexis Jordan "Got 2 Luv U", which peaked at no. 84 on the Hot 100, is featured on STB Volume 45.

But the Mohawk-coiffed artist's relationship with VP began 12 years earlier with Chin as the A&R for Sean's debut album "Stage One", which ultimately led to his Atlantic Records deal and subsequent international stardom.

As a tribute to Chin, Sean performed "Never Gonna Be the Same" the fourth single from his multiplatinum 2005 album "The Trinity,"which reached number 7 on the Top 200 and no. 1 on the Reggae chart.

He wrote the deeply affecting song to commemorate his friend Daddigon (b. Gabra Lambert), a member of Sean's Dutty Cup Crew who was murdered in 2005; now the song's lyrical reflections on lives lost would honor another slain friend. "Joel was the first one to believe in me and the whole Dutty Cup Crew; he was always encouraging and after all these years, he was still the one we would go to make sure things got done," Sean revealed. "His death is unfortunate for his baby daughter and for the reggae family. VP lost a great asset to the company."

The STB concert was produced by Adam Lublin of AEG Live who commented, "I am honored to be involved in a tribute show for a real visionary in the reggae world."