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Yazz dances to reggae beat

Published:Friday | July 10, 2015 | 12:00 AMLeighton Levy
Yazz The Greatest

Earlier this year Yazz the Greatest was an unknown singer turned actor - but how quickly things have changed. The entertainer comes to Reggae Sumfest 2015 more well-known for his acting than his music, but plans to show Jamaica his musical side and just how much he loves dancehall.

“I love it. I add a little reggae to my dance aspects and you'll see at the Sumfest. You know I have a little Jamaican in me too,” he said.

Yazz, born Bryshere Y Gray, owes this opportunity to visit and perform in Jamaica for the first time to the success of the television series Empire. It airs on Fox Television in the USA and stars Taraji B Henson and Terrence Howard.

Prior to the series Yazz, who plays the role of Hakeem Lyon, was best known as a talented young rapper who had opened for acts like 2 Chainz and Fabolous. He also performed at Jay Z’s Made in America Festival.

His sudden rise to fame and the success of the television series still come as a bit of a surprise. “Yes, I’m very much surprised. I don’t think Terrence and Taraji were, but me stepping into it, being my first acting role, I didn’t think it would be this big,” he said.

Music is his first love however, and in addition to filming Yazz has been busy in the studio working on his first studio album for Columbia Records, as well as performing on a nationwide tour in the USA. “I love writing. I'm in the studio with Timbaland and Swizz Beatz and Neyo and we're making great music and I'm performing,” he said. “I'm doing the YPG tour, which is the Yazz the Greatest worldwide tour. We hit about 30 cities in the United States. Jamaica will be the first stop out of the United States.”

He said he is eager to get here.  “I can't wait to get to Jamaica to give a great show. Performing at Sumfest is something I always wanted to do, so I'm glad to be able to do this at this time of my life  - go to Jamaica and give a wonderful show while we're still shooting Empire Season 2,” he said.

The 21-year-old Philadelphia-born artiste is just enjoying his sudden rise to fame that is affording him opportunities to travel the world to perform before his new-found, adoring fans.

“This has been such a journey for me - the first season being such a huge success, being known around the world. I wasn't known at all. Now I'm known in Russia, known in Brazil and the beautiful Jamaica, so I'm very blessed and just waiting to see what's next," Yazz said.