Like MSN messenger and too-tight halter tops, Sean Paul’s identity is inextricably tied with the 2000s. While you’d be hard-pressed to find a millennial who isn’t able to recite all the words to “Temperature,” Paul’s current projects seem marginal in today’s grander scheme of pop culture.
Despite his dip in relevancy, the 43-year-old performer can still fill a building. On March 22, eager fans flooded Reign Nightclub, huddling close to the stage as producer DJ Fresh played the opening set. “If you see me checking my phone,” Fresh shouted over the blaring bass, “then you know it’s because I’m messaging Sean Paul!”
An hour later, after halfheartedly swaying to Fresh’s many remixes, the audience was finally rewarded as the man of the hour appeared, five-o’clock shadowed face obscured by thick-framed sunglasses and a black fedora.
Paul didn’t take the stage alone. He was accompanied by two dancers in outfits that were effectively HUF socks sewn together into something resembling a bodysuit. This is the guy who wrote “We Be Burnin’,” the guy whose fourth album was entitled Imperial Blaze; the constant references to getting high came with the territory. The set featured a kind of tribute to Jidenna’s song “Classic Man,” wherein Paul lovingly swapped the word classic for “ganja.”
But “Classic Man” wasn’t the only borrowed beat of Paul’s performance, with Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and Travis Scott’s “Antidote” injected during the breakdowns of Paul’s lesser-known tracks. While “Classic Man” had made an appearance as part of a playful parody, the latter two songs seemed placed as an attempt to connect the event to the present-day.
The concert still had the air of a prolonged flashback, most notably in the amount of pandering that took place. Both Fresh and Paul spoke to the crowd in a manner reminiscent of a DJ at a middle school dance addressing an 8th grade audience.
Towards the end of the set, Paul retreated to the side of the stage. “What’s that,” he asked of a hidden figure before turning back to the crowd. “Alright guys, the stage-manager-lady just told me I’ve got to wrap it up.”
The whole crowd booed, displeased to be cut away from the dancehall artist so quickly.
“Wait a second,” Paul said, returning to the side of the stage, once again engaged in a conversation the crowd couldn’t see. “Alright guys, she says I can do one more song, but that’s it.”
To Paul’s credit, he gave the show immense energy, ensuring that the night came to a close on a definite... high. For what it was, the entire club was having a great time, and just like with “Hotline Bling,” “Antidote” and “Classic Man,” when Paul ended the show with the climactic “Temperature,” everyone sang along.