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FIFTEEN YEARS SINCE THE DIWALI RIDDIM!

BY KEVIN JACKSON—

 Steven “Lenky” Marsden —

The success of the Diwali rhythm changed the life of producer Steven “Lenky” Marsden. The beat, which was released in early 2002, recently celebrated 15 years.“I intentionally set out to do something different, to make a ‘riddim’ that was special and did not sound like everything out at the time. The actual beat was made in 1998, it evolved from that time until its eventual release. The changes and tweaks came through exposure to different cultures and sounds through touring,” Marsden told the Sunday Observer.

Despite his intention, he said he never envisioned that the Diwali ryhthm would’ve been successful.

“No, not even in my wildest dreams. I never thought it would’ve been as big as it became,” said Marsden.

In May 2002, Greensleeves Records released the various artists compilation series Greensleeves Rhythm Album #27: The Diwali. Among the songs featured on the beat were Ruffest and Tuffest by Assassin, Sufferer (Bounty Killer and Wayne Marshall), Overcome (Wayne Marshall), Shala La (Buju Banton), Respect Yuh Wife (Ce’Cile), Party Time (Danny English and Egg Nog), Elephant Message (Elephant Man), Inna (General Degree), Bubble and Wine (Hawkeye), Da One Ya (Spragga Benz), Galang Gal (TOK), No Letting Go (Wayne Wonder), Love is Wicked (Brick and Lace) and Get Busy (Sean Paul). The songs were recorded at Marsden’s home studio, Area 39. Sean Paul was the last to record on the beat.

DiwaliRiddim

“The first artists to voice were Assassin (Agent Sasco) with Ruffest and Tuffest & Zumjay with Zumjay and the last artists was Sean Paul with Get Busy. I recorded 19 tracks and my instrumental made a total of 20 for the original release. A subsequent deluxe release had two additional tracks with Sean Paul’s Get Busy and Lumidee’s Never Leave You( Uh Ooh Uh Ooh). Additionally I recorded Buju Banton’s Sha La La which appeared in a later compilation. All recordings were done at my home studio Area 39, except Lumidee,” said Marsden.

Sean Paul

Sean Paul

American recording artist Lumidee’s Never Leave You (Uh Ooh, Uh Oooh) was a number one hit in five countries and reached number two in the UK and number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other international hits were Brick and Lace’s Love is Wicked (released in 2007), Sean Paul’s Get Busy (a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100), and Wayne Wonder’s No Letting Go (a top fifteen hit on the Billboard Hot 100).“My life was changed of course financially, but it created opportunities through the exposure on Billboard and has allowed me to make music for a much wider audience, with fans of my sound across the world. I am very grateful,” said Marsden.

Now 46 years old, the Diwali is Marsden’s crowning moment as a producer. Originally from Bray Street in east Kingston, he started out as a musician playing the keyboard and piano. He did stints on the north coast hotel circuit as a musician before touring with the likes of Rita Marley and Dennis Brown. He later evolved into bands and later, as a studio musician. Production was a hobby for him.

Time Travel and Masterpiece were follow-up beats, but none eclipsed the success of the Diwali.

Jimmy Cliff

Jimmy Cliff

“I’ve just completed a single, Life for Jimmy Cliff’s upcoming album. We completed a few songs together and I was happy to be a part of the process. Also in the pipeline is my EP, which I will release later this year. Simultaneously, I am working on my son, Q Marsden’s second EP, also slated for release later this year and finally, I’m involved on a few projects with the “Riddim Twins”, Sly and Robbie,” Marsden added.

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