In fact, the in-demand reggae singer was so deeply impacted by this sojourn that he not only gave a unique performance, he stayed an extra four days in the Gambia and put on a free concert for those persons who couldn’t afford to attend the advertised event staged on March 6. While many critics and fans alike are heaping accolades on him for this totally selfless and heart-warming gesture, the Digicel and Busta ambassador has shrugged off the praises, insisting that it was a “no-brainer” and that he “only did what had to be done”.
“It’s like finally finding all the right pieces of the puzzle and fitting them together to make a collage that simply takes your breath away,” a deeply reflective I-Octane said of his much anticipated first trip to the Motherland.
According to him, words couldn’t begin to describe the warmth of the embrace he received from the moment he touched on African soil and throughout his entire stay on the Smiling Coast. There were motorcades in his honour; he was feted by the media and the ordinary man in the street made the reggae star feel at home as he visited the ghettos and made that special, personal connection. It was then that I-Octane learnt that many of these persons hadn’t actually seen his performance and he decided there and then to put on a free concert in the ghetto.
“Ghetto people are the ones who build us as artiste before the world knows about us and putting on a free concert in the ghetto is something we do in Jamaica everyday,” I-Octane explained. “It was a joy. I gave it my best shot and the people loved it,” he beamed.
"Gambia people might be poor but they are filled with so much peace, love and positive vibes, it's infectious. I loved my time there and look forward to returning," concluded Octane.
He recalled that on the day of the advertised concert, legions of fans bearing gifts and a cadre of press personnel turned out at the Independence Stadium, where he performed as special guest of T Smallz Susso, Gambia’s finest reggae, hip-hop cum Afro beat artiste. The energy level was so high that the artiste, dubbed ‘The Closer’, knew that this would be no ordinary concert. And it wasn’t.
The people of Gambia were as hungry for the singer as he was eager to perform for them and I-Octane’s allotted 40 minutes on stage took wings. It was two hours later that the conscious reggae/dancehall light-bearer – who had kicked off his shoes – pulled down the curtains on an exhaustive set which saw him doing his entire My Journey album, his more established set and even his newest songs, all of which were sung word-for-word by the audience. As for his shoes, Octane gave them to one of his fans in a symbolic gesture of leaving his foot-prints in Gambia.
During his trip, he also shot a video for one of his latest singles, Rich Rich Rich, directed by Kevin "Killavision" Allen and did a collaboration with T Smallz, to whom he extended an open invitation to visit Jamaica.
Satisfied at having made an indelible impression in Gambia, I-Octane, ably supported by his Conquer the Globe band, is in preparation mode for two significant upcoming events on April 26 and May 24. The first is the Digicel-sponsored Reggae In The Hill, one of the premier events of the Barbados Reggae Festival, where the Gyal Ting singer will perform for the very first time. May 24 will see Octane in London for the first time in two years, when he takes to the stage at More Life, scheduled for the O2 Academy, Brixton.