He is affectionately referred to as the “ambassador of hip-hop reggae”.
And with two new singles under his belt, international recording artiste Rayvon has come a long way from his very humble beginnings in Barbados when as a young child his only musical instruments were the pots and pans in the kitchen of his Eagle Hall, St Michael home.
“I used to play the drums. When I say drums, it was the pots and the pans,” he recalled.
“My father used to play a lot of music around the house and I was hitting the pots to the beat . . . so my parents decided to get me a drum set. From then my whole family was calling me ‘drummer boy’,” he told Bajan Vibes.
At the age of eight, the former student of Wesley Hall Juniors migrated to Brooklyn, New York and it was there that his musical career really took off. Rayvon, whose real name is Bruce Alexander Michael Brewster, not only learnt how to play the bass guitar and other musical instruments, he soon acquired his own turntables and started deejaying at “bashment parties” and other popular events before he got the courage to actually get in front of the microphone and sing.
“I started to practice like there was no tomorrow and I cut my first record Sweet and Pretty. It was released in England first. The song didn’t do much, but, for me, it was a big deal and that inspired me to get going,” he said.
The 50-year-old musician, who is the brains and talent behind the GTC (Get that Cheddar) Entertainment Label, recently released two new singles Trouble Again and Sugarcane.
During his extensive music career, he shared the stage with numerous icons, including The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson.
However, he is perhaps best known for his work with multi-platinum selling vocalist Shaggy. The two began collaborating on a string of tunes in the 90s, which culminated in Big Up.
“We both got our break with that record. It put us in the reggae/dancehall spotlight. I had a smooth-edged style of singing and he had that rough deejay style. The chemistry was amazing,” he said.
Rayvon was also featured on the B-side of Shaggy’s 1993 hit album Oh Carolina.
The following year his own solo career began to blossom with the release of the hip-hop reggae classic No Guns, No Murder on VP Records. The track made it big on the Billboard, ranking simultaneously on the Hot 100, Rap Singles, and R&B/ Hip-Hop charts.
In 2001, he did another collaboration with Shaggy. This time “Angel” topped Billboard’s Hot 100 and took home an American Music Award. The wildly successful tune catapulted both Shaggy and Rayvon even further into the national spotlight as they made appearances on several popular American television network shows, such as Live w/ Regis & Kelly, Saturday Night Live, Jay Leno, David Letterman and All My Children.
The song has since clocked in at 18 million views on YouTube and has been certified gold and platinum around the world.
“What I like about my career is that I was able to straddle both sides of the industry, underground and then come back and do some mainstream stuff,” he told Bajan Vibes.
“People have grown up with the classic songs I’ve done over the years. People want to hear reggae because it’s feel good music. Feel good music will never die,” he added.