"Greetings, massive! Wha a gwaan, Jamaica?" Yep, that was a perfect start to the UWI talk-session with young Jamaicans.
The night before, there was a well-briefed "Hi, Natasha" to the guide at Bob Marley Museum. Jamaicans responded with ackee and salt fish, then 48 cold Red Stripe for a departing Air Force One.
And the business end? Jamaica's Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell and the US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz are now talking about Jamaica as a distribution hub for LNG from the US Gulf coast. That could transform the Caribbean energy mix.
US President Barack Obama's Kingston visit came 33 years, almost to the day, after Ronald Reagan's. He, too, was a great communicator. So was his host, the recently-elected Eddie Seaga. The Cold War was in full freeze. Maurice Bishop was prime minister of Grenada.
Jamaica was an economic morass. Seaga's welcome speech quoted opinion poll stats on which countries Jamaicans thought were likely to help.
Top of the list came the United States, with 88 per cent. Next, Canada, with 36 per cent (respondents could pick more than one country.) Britain? Only 13 per cent thought the former Mother Country had much to offer.
Venezuela? Hugo Chavez was a 29-year-old lecturer in a military academy; but eight per cent of Jamaicans saw his country as a source of bounty. Cuba? Seven per cent.
And China? Today's giant didn't even figure.
Fast forward to 2015. Jamaica still an economic morass. But ask them now where the cash might come from, and you'd get different answers. Venezuela's PetroCaribe brings funds worth one-sixth of Jamaica's government revenue. China owns a big slice of the sugar industry; has financed a trans-island highway; and is talking mega-investment in hotels and ports.
But for soft power, it's still game, set and match to the United States. No Chinese leader–indeed, now that Mandela's gone, probably no leader anywhere–could connect with Jamaicans like Barack Obama.
Not even Portia Simpson Miller. And certainly not her opposition leader, the hapless Andrew Holness.
At the Town Hall meeting the President was relaxed and responsive. He knew how to listen, as well as talk. But how much of his message hit home? That's a toughie.
The first Jamaican in the audience to be name-called was Angeline Jackson.
Said the President: "When Angeline was 19, she and a friend were kidnapped, held at gunpoint and sexually assaulted. And as a woman, and as a lesbian, justice and society were not always on her side. But instead of remaining silent, she chose to speak out...she cares about her Jamaica, and making it a place where everybody, no matter their colour, or their class, or their sexual orientation, can live in equality and opportunity."
That message was pretty much blanked by the Jamaican media.
But they found space to report a tiny group of black-clad protestors from the oddly-named "Love March Movement," with T-shirts reading "No to US buggery export."
And ganja? Jamaica's decriminalisation came into effect just last Wednesday–six days after the President's visit. Miguel "Steppa" Williams asked the obvious question.
The President was well prepared, and even-handed.
"The so-called war on drugs has been so heavy in emphasising incarceration that it has been counter-productive. But: "Decriminalisation is no "sliver bullet." Economically, the Caribbean's small and medium-sized businesses will have to compete: "Big multinational companies will come in and try to market and control and profit from the trade."
China? Obama carefully avoided his predecessor's Cold War rhetoric. But he gave common-sense cautions about contracts, transparency–and the use of Chinese labour.
So, that's the soft-power stuff: score 100 per cent; if Jamaicans are listening. What about the economy?
In April 1982, Reagan had just launched the Caribbean Basin Initiative–one-way free trade access for most Caribbean exports to the United States.
At the time, that sounded like a great idea. Jamaica launched a garment industry, based on cheap labour. But offshore manufacturing progressed slowly–then collapsed, unable to compete with China.
America is no longer Jamaica's big investor. Alcoa last year sold its bauxite interests to Hong Kong's Noble Group. The hotel money is now Spanish or Sandals–and the next wave possibly Chinese. A French-led consortium this month signed a US$600 million agreement to run the Kingston Container Terminal.
But Americans may be moving back. Moniz and Paulwell were talking natural gas; and they weren't talking about T&T.
Moniz wants to export LNG from US shale gas through a major hub facility which can re-export to smaller Caribbean markets, with support from the Inter-American Development Bank. That could nicely upstage PetroCaribe, and fix Jamaica's high energy costs. If it moves, it's a game-changer.
Said Paulwell: "We believe that Jamaica could be a part of a hub because of our geographic location...After these meetings, we are hoping to zero in on some of the specificity."
Before Obama's visit, the crab sellers' stalls in National Heroes Circle were demolished. Now they're back. Business as usual? Maybe not. Let's see what they're using for fuel, a few years from now.