“Me get a dream last night,” Rygin King sang, flashing across the stage at Reggae Sumfest 2018, “and the dream tell me things ah go change.” At that precise moment, three years ago this July, the young reggae star’s life changed forever. Rygin was chosen as one of three Montego Bay artists to headline Dancehall Night at Sumfest, Jamaica’s premiere music festival. To see his face on posters all over his hometown meant so much, especially in a year when MoBay was placed under a state of emergency due to an upsurge of violent crime in the city known as a picturesque tourist mecca. “A long time man a suffer,” Rygin sang in the early morning sunshine and the people felt it. “And all now, tings still a di same / Mi just wan’ yuh have faith fi mi / When mi touch di road Daddy pray fi mi.” Following that landmark performance, Rygin emerged as one of the hottest new artists in Jamaica, flooding the streets with big songs like “Powerful,” “Star Life,” and “Clean,” and booking lucrative gigs in the U.S. and Europe. On his 2021 release “Stop That Train,” Rygin collaborates with the late great Daddy U-Roy, a dancehall pioneer who took sound system slang to the top of the charts back in 1970. Besides showing the power of his vocals on the historic collab, Rygin also connects dancehall’s new generation with its foundation. “It’s a great feeling to collaborate with a legend like Daddy U-Roy,” says Rygin King. “Not many people end up on a track with one of their elders, so I want to give thanks to everyone who made it possible… big up Trojan Jamaica and U-Roy. ‘Stop That Train’ is a classic song that is part of our culture.”
The song Rygin sings is a cover of a ska tune first recorded by the Spanishtonians. The song was later revisited by deejay Scotty alongside the rock steady duo Keith & Tex as “Draw Your Brakes” from the soundtrack to the classic 1972 film The Harder They Come. The new version featuring U-Roy and Rygin was produced by Zak and Sshh, founders of Trojan Jamaica. “We met Rygin after his legendary Sumfest performance and thought he was a proper rock star,” Zak and Sshh said in a statement (they should know about rock stars since Zak’s father is none other than Ringo Starr, drummer for The Beatles). They wasted no time asking him to participate in a U-Roy album they were making. “Rygin agreed immediately, and it was great recording with him for ‘Stop That Train.’” The track would be one of the final sessions U Roy recorded for the album Solid Gold U-Roy, which features vocals from the likes of Santigold, Tarrus Riley, and Ziggy Marley.
In between Rygin’s Sumfest gig and the release of his U-Roy collab, another life-changing event took place late last June when he was attacked by gunmen while driving home from a funeral with his manager and girlfriend. The artist was seriously injured in the brazen daytime attack and tragically, his girlfriend lost her life. Rygin has kept a low profile since then, preferring to let his music to speak. On his recent song “Plead my Cause,” he addresses the ordeal and turns to a higher power for support. “Me know me nuh perfect,” Rygin sings. “But me nuh deserve this. Me nuh trust mankind, me trust deh inna di Almighty.”
Watch Rygin King’s exclusive VIBE IG Live interview with Reshma B below.