On his latest songs, ‘Doing it Big’ and ‘Truly Blessed’, Vessel makes a joyful noise onto the Lord, dancehall style. That’s something he has been doing for almost 20 years and makes no apologies.
The South Florida-based Jamaican artiste was weaned on the reggae/dancehall sounds of the Four Bs (Bob Marley, Buju Banton, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man). Having migrated to the United States in the 1990s, he was also drawn to hip hop giants like arch-rivals Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls.
He incorporates those secular genres into his songs. While traditionalists may frown, Vessel says winning souls is his goal.
“The central focus of the ministry is to draw people to Christ and let them know that He is the way and that there is more to life and He is able to give you that abundant life,” he reasoned.
For ‘Truly Blessed’ and ‘Doing it Big’, Vessel turned to his creative brethren Craig McDonald, a longtime collaborator who has produced the lion’s share of his songs. Both were released in late 2023, shortly after the deejay’s second album, ‘His Steps’, came out.
‘Christwalker’, his first album, was released in 2020.
Born in Clarendon parish, central Jamaica, Vessel hails from the Rocky Point region which produced acts like Cocoa Tea. He moved to South Florida at age 12, and although he got immersed in hip hop, the sounds of ‘yaad’ never left him.
“That’s the culture (hip hop), so I adapted to it but not in terms of rapping. I keep the reggae flow on the tracks,” said Vessel.
Once scorned by conservative Christians in Jamaica, reggae-gospel is a thriving genre thanks to acts like Jermaine Edwards, Kevin Downswell, Goddy Goddy and Prodigal Son. They followed the path of trailblazers such as The Grace Thrillers, Carlene Davis, Papa San and Lieutenant Stitchie.
Like them, Vessel refuses to be typecast.
“I don’t limit myself to a particular demographic, whatever the producer gives me in terms of a beat, if I like it and it’s speaking to me I put something on it. I do me and make God do the rest,” he said.