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AFTER 17 years of recording and touring with big-name acts like Dennis Brown and Sly and Robbie, keyboardist Steven 'Lenky' Marsden was determined to add another dimension to his career.

It was 2002 and he wanted to produce hit records.

Marsden got more than he bargained for that year when he unleashed the Diwali riddim which drove some of the biggest dancehall hits. One of the biggest sellers was Sean Paul's Get Busy which made the Billboard pop chart.

"From a musician point of view I was trying to create something special, something different," Marsden told Splash. "That's why people loved it, it was different."

Marsden said he recorded the Diwali (Hindi for festival of lights) in 1998. Four years later, he released the beat with General Degree's Inna, Zumjay by Zumjay and Roughest by Assassin the first songs on it.

Sufferer by Bounty Killer made even more artistes stop and listen to this 'different' beat. Marsden said he got calls from two other key artistes who wanted to 'ride the riddim'.

"Wayne Wonder said he had a song an' it would fit the Diwali. Sean Paul was going good with Gimme The Light an' wanted to do something wid it too," he recalled.

Marsden knew Wonder from their days at Penthouse Records and was happy to help his old friend out. Wayne Wonder's No Letting Go peaked at number 11 on Billboard, but it was Sean Paul's Get Busy that really made the Diwali an international force.

Sean Paul's song — the last song recorded on the Diwali — reached number one on Billboard in May 2003 and helped propel his Dutty Rock album to multi-platinum sales.

The Diwali's success opened big doors for Marsden, who went on to work on projects by Timbaland and Ron Isley, and helped craft remixes by Britney Spears and the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.

Heavily influenced by Studio One keyboardist/arranger Jackie Mittoo, Marsden grew up in the Windward Road area of east Kingston. He remembers hearing the revolutionary Sleng Teng rhythm in 1984 and being hooked to its computerised beat.

Through keyboardist Mallory Williams, he played in Lloyd Parks and We The People Band before moving on to the Bloodfire Posse. Studio-wise, he worked on hit songs like Tanto Metro and Devonte's Everyone Falls In Love and Throw Down Your Arms, Irish singer Sinead O'Connor's reggae tribute album.

Yet, Marsden's greatest legacy may be the Diwali, which has inspired songs like Pon The Replay by Rihanna and Sexy Love by Ne-Yo.

"The most satisfying thing to me is the inspiration it continues to give musicians, whether it is the clapping or the kick drum," he said. "After 10 years, people still get a vibe from it."

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