Dancehall artiste Rygin King is on a long journey back to recovery after a savage gun attack left him paralyzed two years ago.

“I don’t know anyone who is in a position like me, inna one tragic unfortunate situation like me and who hold it like how me hold it, bredda…and mi no bawl out on the internet and all now, mi no go to the press, no one don’t know what happened after Rygin King get shot because is a rocky road bredda and we still ah go through it,” he said.

He believes he will walk again. Soon.

“I know I will walk again, I know it is God’s will, a lot of youths call me to say me ah motivate dem, so mi ah hold it said way,” he said.

King spoke to OBSERVER ONLINE about his belief that he will make a full recovery after escaping death’s door after being shot three times by men in Struie district, Westmoreland on June 28, 2020. Here is his story.

After doing multiple surgeries, Rygin King finally started doing therapy a few months ago.

“Mi ah do therapy ya now, it tek a time before me even coulda start and mi ah look forward to walk again bredda and mi do believe that miracle ah go happen but ah just the conscious part of it, the positive thinking that gives me that belief. All the days of my life, I am just a positive person,” he said.

The Tuff deejay said he does his best to ward off negative thoughts, knowing that he is going through a major reversal in his life. The reversal is especially hard to swallow given that he is the main breadwinner for his family.

“The dawg have so much things to pree that are negative, ah me feed my family. I am the primary breadwinner for my family, from the incident, mi don’t do no stage show, and mi have three youths, two boys and one girl, but mi just focus on the positive,” he explained.

The Montego Bay-based artiste said that the pandemic deeply affected him in terms of his social bonds and interaction with friends, but he was able to earn and pay his bills through his powerful streaming numbers, even as the entertainment sector shut down.

“The pandemic affected me in a social way but not in a monetary way, ah the streaming mek me stand firm certain way. Memba say Rygin king inna him sick bed, mi forward September outta the hospital, the first song mi sing , mi voice ‘Plead My Cause oh Jah’, and ‘Dancehall Baddest Ting’ and a couple others. Mi voice not even de de dem time de, the shot enter mi back, touch mi spine and puncture mi lungs, mi couldn’t breathe good, but because ah the determination, knowing that ah this alone mi have and that mi do to mek a living….mi have to push on, mi youths dem de round me and dem haffi eat bro G,” Rygin King said.

King has amassed almost 600,000 subscribers on his VEVO platform and 133,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Tuff is his most streamed song on Spotify with 5.7 million streams, followed by 3ZN with 3.2 million and Glu with 2.5 million streams.

“Big up to producers like Damage, Kyle, and special big up to Dynasty, for who I did ‘Who You Doing Like That?” (7 plus million views on Youtube), for all their support,” he said.

King recorded two of his biggest sellers just weeks before he was injured in the gun attack. The single, No Emotions, racked up 8.5 million views on Youtube, while visuals for Glu has racked up 12 million views.

The deejay, who was 25 at the time of the attack, did a series of major operations, the last procedure was at a hospital in Jamaica with surgeons dealing with repairs to his lungs back in 2020.

“Mi forward home and mi very paranoid, mi don’t know who fi trust since me get back,” the artiste whose real name is Matthew Smith, said.

THE FATEFUL DAY

The artiste’s manager, Ramsay had met in an accident with a motor car being driven by a female driver in the Struie district in Westmoreland.

“Basically, mi manger get a bad drive and lick inna somebody car, but we done did de on the way already, and after two minutes, mi realise mi no see them, mi call dem first and dem say ‘yu never see we crash behind yu?”, and mi say ‘jah know and so come mi turn back and attend to dem. Being there, attending to them, we were supposed to go to the police station, cause it wasn’t far,” he said.

Following the crash, Rygin King and his team stopped at the location for approximately 45 minutes, assessing the damage and conversing with the female driver.

“I shouldn’t have come outta my car but mi de de with mi two youths dem, mi son and mi daughter, and my manager de de with his two daughter and him babymother said way and another vehicle that was there with us as part of the entourage,” he said.

While there, another car suddenly pulled up beside them, and one man alighted with a handgun.

“Bwoy, mi not even know ah wah gwaan because the manager (Ramsay) ah look under him car. Same time, a strange car pull up and mi ah look exactly inna the people dem face but the man dem mask up,” Rygin said.

Eyewitnesses said that one of the shooters reportedly hurled a barrage of expletives at the entertainer and began shooting. The armed man opened fire multiple times, in the process hitting 28-year-old Sashalee Blackwood, who was sitting inside the vehicle with the two children. Blackwood was a customer service representative of Irwin Meadows, St James.

“My manager’s wife (Blackwood) was in the car, she got shot while coming out of the car. Mi never run like everybody else , mi see two man run and ray ray ray, and mi say ‘ wah dis’. Mi youth de right side ah me but when mi realize, mi inna shock but no panic, mi push down mi yute fi lay flat , he was knee high, and after mi push him down flat and try move from side ah him ,” he said.

“Mi turn my back, mi jump over a concrete drain that water run through, the jump mi jump, mi drop down de so but mi never know say mi get two shot and when mi drop and caan get up, mi realise mi caan get up,” Rygin King said.

Luckily, the men did not pursue him into the ditch.

“If dem did pursue right de so, yu dun know how it go,” he said.

King said he heard the “car wheel off and gone off and skid off”. He lay on his back, looking up at the expanse of blue sky while a growing pool of red blood blossomed around him. He remembered wondering if he was going to make it when he realised that he had been shot.

“My baby mother Kaylia come down there for me and tek me out of the ditch. Ah Kaylia tek me outta the ditch, two of my nigga run out of the bush but dem get shot inna dem foot. Mi say help me, but dem get shot too, mi look bad down inna the drain and mi hold up mi hand and tell mi baby mother to come for me and she just tried to help me but she couldn’t manage, and is a stranger help her tek me out of the ditch,” he recalled.

By the time he emerged out of the ditch, he had lost a lot of blood.

“Mi tell her say mi alright but mi know mi no alright cause mi feel sitten ah run up and down inna me . My manager couldn’t get a car to assist, his car engine nah tun over and the other car, the driver ran away and must have lost the keys in the bushes. Ramsay sat down in the middle of the road, and a man from Mobay stopped and helped us, mi don’t know him, but him keep saying ‘hold it deejay’,” he said.

King was originally admitted to the Sav-la-Mar Public General Hospital but was airlifted a few days later to the Falmouth Hospital. During the attack, Blackwood, who was sitting inside the vehicle with two children, died in the attack.

He returned to the music scene late last year, and has continued to churn out hits such as ‘7 Fall Many Rise’ which has racked up 8 million views so far.

Rygin King’s hit song ‘Tuff’ has racked up 16 million views on Youtube, while ‘How Me Grow’ has amassed 9.4 million views, incredible numbers for an independent artiste.

Regarded as the king of trap-dancehall, he shot to prominence with Tuff and cemented his status with a performance at Reggae Sumfest 2018. He has since found success with a number of singles, which incorporate elements of commercial trap and R&B.

In 2019, he toured Finland, Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, UK and Sweden in an expansive European tour. He also toured several states in the USA, and provinces in Canada.

“From mi buss, three months no pass and mi de a Jamaica. From the summer of 2019, mi tour straight through 2020 until the pandemic cut the touring short,” Rygin King said.

He will be releasing a new 10 track album on September 9 called ‘Therapy’ with highly anticipated singles such as ‘Wake Me Up’, ‘Circumstances’, ‘Broken’ and the title track, ‘Therapy’. The heartbreaking visuals for the single, ‘Therapy’, will be released on August 5. The album will also be available for pre-order on all digital online platforms.

“Go out and support the album, entertainers, the public, the fans, the industry, everybody,” he said.

PART TWO TOMORROW. Rygin talks about the path to finally taking on physical therapy a few months ago, his surgeries and arduous road to recovery and the medical staff who helped him on his journey.