Gyptian, who’d already conquered radio from Kingston to French Guyana and London with his song “Hold You,” won hearts at NPR Music’s Washington, D.C., office within moments of walking in the door. He was wearing a Nationals baseball hat — a quick way to win fans in D.C., though a Redskins hat would have been preferable — and once he began singing, his relaxed, supple voice pulled any straggling doubters over to his side.
Gyptian sang his songs mostly straight, throwing in vamps here and there. But he couldn’t help dancing in his seat, as he made delicate, fluttery motions with his hands and rocked in rhythm. In an environment that can throw off even seasoned performers, Gyptian came off as confident and expressive. He even growled directly into the microphone to close out “Beautiful Lady.”
But the killer was still “Hold You.” That melody does not quit, and the whole song really lives in Gyptian’s voice. When it first came to the public’s attention last spring, it came via an unmastered leak. The song needs no bells and whistles — no pitch-shifting, no fashionable electronic drum sounds to squirm its way into your ear.
When he sang “Hold You” in the office, Gyptian played with the rhythm, lagging behind at times and landing right on top of it at others. At this point, he’s sung the song in public hundreds of times, but he still sounds like he’s having fun messing around with it.