Universe Boss looks to rebrand himself in world of dancehall music
By Ricky Browne
West Indian superstar cricketer Chris Gayle, is best known for his ability to hit sixes, but it is his latest single that is getting him into the news these days.
Gayle, aka Universe Boss, is now in the process of rebranding himself from batsman great to dancehall star. He’s already been involved in a few record releases and on February 15 he released his first song of the year – Blessings.
Gayle, Jamaica’s most famous cricketer of the modern era by far, is known for hitting more sixes than anyone. In 20 years, Gayle has been recorded as hitting 534 sixes, followed by Shahid Afridi, the Pakistani cricketer also known as Boom Boom, who over a slightly longer period hit 476 from 1996 to 2018.
Gayle, the former captain of the celebrated West Indies cricket team is celebrated globally as the first cricketer to score a triple century in test cricket .
The 41 year old cricketer was the biggest name especially in T20 Cricket – the shorter, more exciting and more popular version of traditional Test Cricket – which instead of taking up to five days to play a match, can be done and over with in 20 overs per side – or just a few hours.
He was the first cricketer to hit 1000 sixes in T20 Cricket– when the ball is struck over the border, winning the player and his team six runs, not to mention cheers of approval from fans.
If not quite a sex god, Gayle is certainly a six god. So his name is not normally associated with singles — which are about as boring as you can get in cricket, where the ball is struck and wins the batter only one run. It is sometimes a part of a strategy to win as many runs as safely as possible – a slow and steady approach.
But with Gayle’s latest single, he is hoping he will be able to hit this out of the park – if we mix our cricket and baseball metaphors a bit.
The tune was available on all major paid digital platforms – but could also be listened to for free on YouTube.
Gayle was quite straightforward when he announced the release on his social media on February 15..
“O U T N O W_* _ON ALL DIGITAL PLATFORMS WORLDWIDE_ _S T R E A M N O W V I A S M A R T L I N K O N_ •Spotify •Apple Music •Tidal •Deezer“, Gayle tweeted on February 15.
The artwork shows Gayle looking quite holy, in front of a sunset, and dressed in a textured all-white and short sleeved shirt.
His hands are in a pose that suggest being at peace with himself, and maybe a hint of wealth as well, as his thumbs and index fingers form a diamond. The gesture is actually based on a Rastafarian hand gesture called the Seal of Solomon that is associated with Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I. The gesture symbolises peace and unity – especially when honouring Salassie.
Although Gayle wears his hair in locks, he is not known to be a follower of the Rastafarian religion.
” Blessings is a thankful song, really, because I’ve been through a lot to achieve my success and I wanted to share that with my fans. I want persons to know that they too can achieve greatness, if they work hard and never listen to negativity. I know 2020 has been a rough year for so many, and 2021 looks bleak sometimes, but just stay the course and commit to your goals,” Gayle reportedly said.
A short video on YouTube – not the official one – shows Gayle changing into formal attire, helped by a butler, in an apartment at sunset, high up over what looks like the Dubai skyline.
Gayle was actually in Dubai for the launch of the record.
The lyrics are humorous and show the singer to be boasting playfully about his success, but noting that it wasn’t always an easy road.
“When the road did rough, we did walk on it” sings Gayle in Blessings.
But then he gets into some of his popularity and his ability to live in style.
“All when we nah run we a get vote
Three course meal when we run boat,” he sings.
To run a boat, is a Jamaican expression to have a quick and impromptu potluck supper, usually cooked outside on a wood fire by a group of friends – and normally consisting of some pretty basic food like corned beef and dumplings, anything you could find – but not anything as fancy as a three course meal.
On YouTube, the song racked up about 300 views in a day. Not a spectacular rate, but just because it’s a slow start, doesn’t mean that its not going to go somewhere.
It is likely that the record will get considerable airplay at Triple Century, the sports bar he owns in New Kingston – once pandemic restrictions are lifted.
And if his previous songs are anything to go by, Gayle is likely to do very well.
Last year Gayle also sang on a track with the British singer of Indian origin Avina Shah called Groove. The video of the song features Gayle singing while astride a motorbike with a dancer thrusting up against him.
“Girls all around, but a you me a push up against” sings Gayle.
The video got 1.7 million views on YouTube, and 37,000 likes.
He released a solo single on his birthday last year – September 21, called Living di Life.
The album cover featured an image of him in a multicoloured shirt with lime green shorts, chains around his neck and a gold watch on his wrist, sporting gold-rim shades and wearing a Panama hat while smoking what looks like a quality Cuban cigar.
The album label is Triple Century Records – a reference to the fact that he is the only cricketer to ever score three centuries in test match cricket.
The first version of the song got some 58,000 views, but a more recent version of Living di Life, released on December 11, 2020, and has already gained 90,000 views on YouTube.
Gayle’s videos tend to show him living a big life, drinking champagne and dancing with women — many of whom seem adept at pole dancing. The videos feed into Gayle’s image of being a sex symbol, and bring to mind one of his more famous quotes “Don’t blush baby” when a female journalist in Australia accused him of being a misogynist.
“Me live good because mi income pretty” sings Gayle in a song called Too Hot, That video has got 223,000 since its release on June 27, last year.
Another single called We Come out fi Party, premiered on November 5, has gained 299,000 views.
But Gale has the potential to get much more views. Another video showing Chris Gayle enjoying his 40th birthday bash to a remix of the Dumpling soundtrack got more than three million views on YouTube.
So as famous as Universe Boss is a cricketer, it appears that his universe is larger – and he is fast establishing himself as a celebrity in the world of dancehall. The dancehall bug has bit him.