West Indies cricket legend Chris Gayle isn’t a morning person. But who can blame the self-proclaimed “Universe Boss” for a late day start when the Kingston-born 42-year-old is triple-dipping as an atomic-powered batsman, chart-climbing recording artist and Jamaican cultural ambassador to South Asia.
For over two decades, Gayle dominated the international cricket scene as a star player on the “Windies,” the famed pan-Caribbean West Indies team. He’s quick to remind everyone he’s still actively competing—Gayle played in a tournament last week. But these days, he’s dedicated to becoming a different type of hit-maker.
“My main focus right now is [to] just get my music spread all across the globe and just try to get as big as possible—like I’ve done in cricket,” said Gayle. “It’s not going to be an easy task just being in the industry for two years now.”
“But it’s there for the taking, and it’s up to me to put in that work and get that done.”
Like the legions of amateur bakers and first-time investors, Gayle first dabbled with new passions during the pandemic. He soon found a calling in music. There’s a recording studio in his house. His 2021 party anthem collaboration with Hindi rapper Emiway Bantai “Jamaica to India” boasts over 57 million YouTube views. And this October, his debut album “Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica: The Asian Edition” drops. Gayle won’t be the only legend on the eight-song tracklist—Newark-born rap icons Lauryn Hill and Redman represent the Tri-State area as features.
For the famously self-assured Gayle, breaking into the New York market is a humbling experience. He’s an international superstar but the American cricket scene is still developing and rap and R&B will always be the nation’s musical bread-and-butter. Gayle cites Shaggy, Sean Paul and of course, Bob Marley as influences for Jamaican success in the United States.
There’s certainly plenty of love shared with South Asia in his music—Gayle spent many years playing in Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi leagues. He’s played in the region for roughly a decade and a half, and while he doesn’t speak Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu or Bengali, sports is a universal language.
“Once you play cricket, they will treat you like a king,” said Gayle. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, once you play that game, you’ll be looked upon like a national hero to them.”
And he’s fallen in love with South Asian cuisine. Butter chicken is one of his favorites. Gayle also recommends a fire pit-cooked fish he tried at a riverside eatery in the backwater Indian state of Kerala. But how does it stack up to food from home?
“Indian food is excellent, but Jamaican food is definitely No. 1,” he said, laughing. “But Indian food is amazing…absolutely amazing.”
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w