No Auto-Tune in the auto store
Tarrus Riley was a surprise inclusion in last Thursday's grand opening of Toyota Jamaica's new branch at 93 Old Hope Road, St Andrew. The final person to be introduced on the stage set-up in the new car dealer's 5,000 square feet showroom by MC Neville Bell, Riley was spared the incessant chatter of many attendees by the music.
However, late in his performance, Riley, who dubs himself 'Singy Singy', abandoned the backing track to make a vocal point, to good effect, as he did a new song about being at ease mentally as "I no need to worry".
"Nuff a dem a tomatis. Nuff a dem a no artiste," Riley commented, about unnamed singers who cannot deliver on stage how they do on record. "Dem love hide behind the music. Dem haffi hide behin' a ting called Auto-Tune." The software allows for a performer's voice to be corrected for pitch.
"If me can sing without music, me a no no chef, me a no plumber, me a what? Singer!" Riley answered rhetorically, in unison with members of the audience.
Riley had long proven his profession and mettle by that point in his performance, close to the end. He successfully encouraged listeners to dance, even though they were dressed in their "stoosh" clothes. And he gleefully satisfied a request for the pro-marijuana song Herbs. As one lady rocked enthusiastically to the song, Riley smiled and said: "Yes, Mummy, dance for your herbs."
He showed the range of an ever-expanding catalogue, starting out with Lion Paw and following with the warning against violent persons, Beware. Love was on his mind with Far Away, Riley announcing his intentions early by saying: "We represent the real authentic music from Jamaica. No Auto-Tune, no additives, no preservatives."
He also had tailor-made lyrics for the occasion, asking Toyota for a new vehicle, specifically a 2017 Toyota Tundra. On the digital backdrop behind him, the vehicle's brand name was set against a background of the Jamaican flag, emphasising the connection between Toyota and the country.
That fun moment created the mood for the appropriate reception of Free Up and an especially well presented My Day. He announced a singalong and, utilising the Taxi rhythm, urged audience participation of Tracy Chapman's Sorry, Gregory Isaacs' Front Door, and a touch of 96 Degrees in the Shade, going into the audience to get persons to sing over the microphone.
After She's Royal, to which the ladies especially sang and danced along, Riley went dance hall with Good Girl Gone Bad, doing Konshens' lines in addition to his. One Drop was included before the Herbs request. "You want the herb song?" Riley asked. There was an affirmative. "In dem stoosh place?" Riley asked, and again got a yes.
"If you want herbs, say herbs," Riley said, and the people did.