Double entendres are common in song lyrics, but Gyptian’s summer 2010 megahit, “Hold Yuh” pulled off the neat trick of being both sweetly innocent and shockingly risqué: “Gyal me wann fi hold yuh / put me arms right around yuh / Gyal you give me the tightest hold me eva seen in my life.” If you think that’s just about hugging, well…let’s just say we’ve got terribly dirty minds.
Gyptian’s lilting, crooning, club-friendly track climbed the Billboard charts that year and all-star remixes (Nicki Minaj, Major Lazer, Toddla T) were not far behind. But “Hold You” wasn’t a random hit based on luck and excellent production. Gyptian (his habit of wrapping shirts around his head like an Egyptian pharaoh lead to the nickname) has been an ascending star in Jamaica for years. Born in rural King Weston (and known to his family as Windel Beneto Edwards) Gyptian started out singing in his Christian mother’s church and listening to his Rastafarian father’s music. His father, a former music promoter, encouraged young Windel to travel to Kingston to work with producer/talent scout Ravin Wong and hone his mix of conscious roots reggae and lovers rock playing to tough audiences.
Gyptian’s anti-violence track “Serious Times” tied with Damian Marley’s global hit “Welcome to Jamrock” for the Jamaica Observer’s Song of the Year honors in 2005. Over the next six years, songs like “Leave Us Alone,” “Beautiful Lady,” and “Mama Don’t Cry” became chart-topping hits. But with the runaway crossover success of “Hold Yuh,” Gyptian is poised to become the first underground reggae star to break through to the mainstream in a very long time.
Photo by MTV IGGY/Nick Gascoine