by Jodee Brown
Reggae Sumfest 2014 has added another big name to its growing list as organizers confirmed Grammy-winning deejay, Sean Paul will make his return to the prominent stage show for the first time since 2003.
The entertainer confirmed his appearance via social media on Friday as he posted a video expressing his delight at being back on the Sumfest stage. He will perform on International Night 2 on July 19 and will be joined on stage by a band, dancers and will unveil a few surprises for fans, according to Summerfest Productions executive director, Johnny Gourzong.
Having rarely performed in Jamaica throughout the last 11 years, this opportunity allows Sean Paul the opportunity to reconnect with his home fans live and direct.
“I’ll be bringing the love the world has shown for reggae music home,” he said in a release. “There is no stage like home. I’ve toured the world, but Jamaica is still my favorite place to be.”
Sean Paul is currently promoting his most recent studio album, Full Frequency, which features big name acts such as Damian Marley, Nicki Minaj, Konshens and Iggy Azalea. He is currently on the European leg of his Full Frequency tour, which saw him make stops in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, where most of the tour takes place.
This year’s edition of Reggae Sumfest will kick off on July 13 with a beach party at Aquasol Beach followed by an all-white party on July 15 at Pier 1 before the performances kick off at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex withDancehall Night, International Night 1 and International Night 2 on July 17, 18 and 19 respectively.
The show is being sponsored by The Gleaner Company Ltd., Jamaica Tourist Board, Digicel, Iberostar, Pepsi, Secrets and IRIE FM.
by Jodee Brown
If there was any doubt as to whether or not the friendship between Alliance leader, Bounty Killer and long-time protégé, Mavado was in tatters, that doubt has now turned to certainty after Bounty recently released a scathing diss track aimed at the ‘Gully Gad.’
The song, Death Work, released on Wednesday, calls out Mavado and his management team after a series of subliminal disses that Bounty believes were aimed at him by his protégé. Since the start of the year, songs like Dem a Try Style Man and Pon Di Gully contained lyrics that seemingly took thinly-veiled shots at Bounty. The latter song drew a terse response from the ‘Grung Gaad,’ in which he said “A one general inna music bout bex bad, and dem nuh wah see a next gad? Tell madden send him best bag.”
In Death Work, Bounty Killer says Mavado sold out ever since landing his deal with We The Best Music Group, deejaying, “Sign yu to Khaled, sen yu guh foreign to make a outreach, yu tun rapper groupie, deh dung a South Beach and have the heart fi come a run off yu mouth peace, pass yu place a yu career a gonna out it, everything pon the Gully mi a rub out it. Bwoy tell yu bout yu madda and yu big him up, yow yu been a drop words come act big enough confront the General, hope yu can live it up.”
He also says, “Mi nah forgive dem, dem know all dat they have done…father a done di son.”
Mavado has yet to respond to this new diss track. Death Work is the strongest signal yet that he and Bounty Killer are not on good terms after years of speculation. The relationship between both deejays has been rocky ever since 2011 following a fatal shooting incident outside of Bounty Killer’s birthday party at the QUAD nightclub in Kingston in June 2011 which claimed the life of Mavado’s friend, Conroy ‘Connie’ Edwards. Despite the fatality, Bounty reportedly never offered condolences for Mavado’s loss, instead blaming him for causing trouble at his party. The two have talked on and off ever since.
Another Alliance deejay, Busy Signal hinted at the tension between the two in a single, Real Talk which was labelled as a ‘Mavado warning.’ In that song, he deejayed, “Singer nuffi a war Bounty real talk, him nuh memba when him bruck and when him hungry? A beg the bills and the 50? Tell him nuh be an ungrateful pickney, Killa a di man wey help people pickney buss di youths outa the slum fi mek it musically. Now yu mek it pon yu own a feed yu family. Rodney Price cudda neva be mi enemy.”
by Jodee Brown
After a 2012 which saw Jamaica return to the roots of its music during its 50th anniversary year, the majority of 2013 proved to be a major letdown and appeared to be heading for irrelevancy within the pantheon on memorable Jamaican periods. That is, until a certain sparkly 28-year-old singer reminded everyone that our music still has a very long shelf-life, if attention is focused on the right channels.
Tessanne Chin added a much needed boost to what was a mostly ordinary year within Jamaican music and entertainment. From a downsizing of hit songs, to increasingly poor album sales in the United States, to undying scrutiny regarding lyrical content and party regulations, these were trying times for artists and music lovers alike in 2013.
Nevertheless, we try to look on the brighter side of things in our music. With that said, check out the slideshow in the middle of this article, showing slides looking at the songs, artists and news makers that made Jamaican music interesting in 2013. Feel free to comment below if you agree or disagree with these picks.
Best New Artist – Jah Bouks
This year was a strong year for debutantes on the local scene. Keznamdi has music lovers re-thinking how they would spend each Weekend, Alkaline inked his eye and his name on the Dancehall scene, Kelissa continued a recent run of impressive, upcoming female singers coming out, while teenage sensation, Samantha J bragged about being the girl in the Tight Up Skirt. But, in this writer’s opinion, there is only one winner.
As an ardent listener of Portmore’s Sun City 104.9FM, there is a strong amount of good, featured music by artists with potential, but little to no mainstream assurance. One such artist was a St. Thomas native by the name of Jah Bouks whose vocals and concepts were unique and smooth.
After hearing songs like Angola and Don’t Cry play so many times on radio, there was no doubt in this writer’s mind 2013 would be Jah Bouks would be a breakout act, if he got the right push. Sai push came in the form of competing on season six of Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall, where his singing ability and stage presence instantly made him a hit with music lovers. He failed to emerge with the million-dollar grand prize, but his star had shone too brightly for him to fade in the limelight soon thereafter.
Angola has been a big hit in mainstream media and on Jamaican streets, landing him several shows locally and overseas in the last six months. Going Home, Vital and others proved that this was not just any ordinary, fly-by-night tinker in his music, but someone whose vision is more wide-ranging than some veteran acts in today’s business, if you listen to his content. 2014 will be a year in which music lovers will look on him Highly! As he would say.
Male Deejay of the Year – I-Octane
There was a huge struggle with this pick, nearly a temptation to leave this award vacant in all honesty, as no Dancehall artist really made his mark on the scene all year-round, struggling for a string of hits.
Konshens, who asserted his authority in Dancehall throughout 2012 with a slew of number ones, was mostly an afterthought this year, with Pull Up To Mi Bumper (feat. J Capri) really being his only standout song, with well over six million YouTube views.
Vybz Kartel, still awaiting word on his freedom from a long-standing murder charge, produced his share of noteworthy songs such as School, Business and Georgina. But, as often the case with the ‘Worl’ Boss’ in recent years, he follows up one big song with five low quality ones.
Aidonia certainly looked like the frontrunner in the first half of the year, driving female audiences mad with songs like Fi Di Jockey, Bruki and Tip Pon Yuh Toe, but his work released since the summer drastically failed to replicate that early success.
So, in the end, this honour goes to I-Octane. His hit at the start of the year, Gyal A Gimme Bunwas a hit with music lovers, adding a mix of old-school vibes with new school humor, as evidenced by the accompanying video. Happy Time and Wine and Jiggle have also been strong on local charts and, despite some skepticism going in, Octane validated the faith shown in him by Reggae Sumfest organizers to close their Dancehall Night with one of his better performances.
Mind you, this was not as solid a year for him as 2010 was, but in a year where many Dancehall acts flattered to deceive, he managed to topple them all.
Female Deejay of the Year – Lady Saw
Honorable Mentions – Macka Diamond, Spice
Unlike the male version of this category, the female one took much less thought, because frankly, content from female deejays was very limited.
Macka Diamond certainly had the biggest song amongst her compatriots with the chart-topping single, Dye Dye, but could not duplicate that form with her follow-up efforts, no matter how raunchy or edgy her promotional or lyrical content got. Spice also had a pair of modest hits, Twerk and Dun Wife which were catchy and thought-provoking, but she was mostly anonymous otherwise, with her beefs with Macka Diamond and the winner of this category mainly keeping her talked about in the press.
For all intent and purposes, Lady Saw was supposed to be done with Dancehall – moving on to a calmer, more spiritual lifestyle after growing tired of the stress and obstacles within a genre she dominated for decades. But the inner ‘bad gyal’ in her just could not resist staying away for good. Her video for Heels On, and the remix (featuring Flo-Rida) put her back on the international map again.
Her solo set at STING 2013, and, moments later, lyrical decapitation of the aforementionedMacka Diamond during their heated clash at the show really summed up how much Dancehall still needs its queen. She still has the edge and lyrical quality left to be a force in the business, as Heels On proved. Time will tell if she follows up on her decision on walk away for good, but her fans will certainly try their best to keep her around.
Reggae Artist of the Year – Chronixx
Honorable Mentions – Sizzla, Beres Hammond, Etana
After a year which saw him rise to instant super stardom with one international hit after the next, one could forgive Chronixx if he relented and moseyed along 2013 while trying to find firm footing within this new-found status. Nope, he is a Warrior, and he continues to fight his way to the top with alarming ease.
Conceptually, he is well beyond his years, showcased through his chart-topping hit,Smile Jamaica, a song reminiscent of Bob Marley’s classic, with a spin on it comparing Jamaica to a beautiful woman. After dropping one of the best songs of 2013, he could again be forgiven for taking his foot off the gas pedal. Of course, again, he refused.
Access Granted, Rain Music, Most I and Here Comes Trouble went over with Jamaicans far and wide, earning rotation in markets such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Billboard has already identified him as potentially Reggae music’s next big superstar, and who would blame them for jumping to that conclusion this early, given his catalogue.
In fairness, Sizzla, Beres Hammond and Etana put out solid hits which did not received nearly the same airplay or approval, but were solid throughout the year, both in studio and on stage. The former two received nods for the 2014 Best Reggae Album Grammy, whileEtana, in this writer’s opinion, should have earned a similar nod.
Given the trajectory Chronixx is on, such recognition will be coming his way much sooner than later, and deservedly so.
Song of the Year – Bumaye (Major Lazer feat. Busy Signal)
Honorable Mentions – Smile Jamaica (Chronixx), Gyal a Gimme Bun (I-Octane), Nuh Compatible (Bugle)
There were a few gems that sparkled song-wise within the seemingly rusting jewel that was Jamaican music in 2013; all of them dominating for a long stretch of time.
Gyal a Gimme Bun was Dancehall’s biggest, most noteworthy hit between January and March, racking up number ones and giving pop culture a new term to exhaust with ‘Mi chest plate a bun mi.’
Nuh Compatible was one of the spring’s most talked about songs, composed by journeyman artist, Bugle, who finally earned his first real mainstream hit since his debut single, What We Gonna Do five years earlier. The acclaim it received was deserved and gave those going through untenable relationships a song to hang their hat on.
As mentioned in the previous slide, Smile Jamaica was a stroke of genius by Chronixx, and was easily the best Reggae song for 2013. But, the winner of this category had his song play in the background of a Pepsi commercial featuring world footballing great, Lionel Messi.Enough said.
Busy Signal, seeking that next, big mainstream hit since being released from prison in November of last year, teamed with Major Lazer for the single, Bumaye, which in English, means kill them (a phrase shouted during Muhammad Ali’s legendary fight with George Foreman).
This top-of-the-line, collaboration was, to use another boxing reference, an instant knockout, earning over 40 million YouTube hits, platinum status in Denmark and that aforementioned commercial with Messi. It was a throwback-themed song – using old-time Dancehall sounds and terms – that morphed into a commercial success and made Busy a major international player once again.
Story of the Year – Tessanne is ‘The Voice’
There could only be one winner or nominee for this honor; a no-brainer really.
Some four or five months ago, Tessanne Chin was a relative afterthought struggling to find a major breakthrough that would launch a once promising career that mostly stalled since making her mainstream debut as a teenager in 2004. Thanks to smart advice from Shaggy and one-chair-turning audition in Los Angeles, she went from Hideaway to being one of the most sought after musicians in the world right now.
Chin long possessed the vocal range, clarity and stage presence necessary to become a superstar, and after successfully auditioning for season five of NBC’s The Voice, those qualities were finally there for a much bigger audience than ours to witness. Song by song, she hit every high note with ease, and round-by-round, more American viewers were warming up to a woman whose personality and talent were too irresistible a combination to overlook.
Her last two solo performances – of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waterand Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing – were two of the most memorable performances ever displayed by a Jamaican artist, or on any talent show worldwide for that matter. With every well-sung word, she had her own coach, Adam Levine, and really everyone else speechless, leaving one to wonder how high her ceiling really is.
Winning The Voice and an American recording contract were mere formalities really. It was the way the she galvanized her entire country to the point bars and Half-Way-Tree square were filled to Bolt-like proportions that was the real story. Jamaican music, and Jamaica in general, now had something to smile broadly about in a year filled with economic and social mishaps and drug controversy surrounding the island’s main source of unbridled joy in recent years, its track and field team.
Chin brought a badly-needed light on the island in dark times and has given every local musician to believe that a break is coming, with just a little persistence and attention to detail required. She now has the opportunity to become the island’s next musical icon and open doors for Jamaican in an American market which has not been kind to them since the days ofDamian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, Shaggy and Sean Paul.
Here is to hoping in 2014, she lays the foundation for Jamaica building a much stronger home musically.
by Jodee Brown
Internationally-renowned super group, Major Lazer is set to return to Jamaica in time for the holidays as they will headline a concert in Kingston the week before Christmas, according to reports Monday.
The group, consisting of Diplo, Jillionaire and Black Chiney’s Major Lazer will perform at the New Mas Camp on December 20. Early bird tickets for the show will go on sale this Friday at the Acropolis Gaming Centre in Barbican for JA$2,000. The event is drinks-inclusive and is slated to kick off at 8 p.m.
This will Major Lazer’s second performance in Jamaica this year. The group performed a special, sold-out show at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in January, dazzling crowds with props and crowd surfing. Additionally, the show featured performances from Reggae sensation, Chronixx and Dancehall star, Popcaan.
Major Lazer has long been known for its affinity for Reggae/Dancehall music and produced two smashing hits in 2013 featuring two of the genre’s popular figures.
This past Spring, they teamed up with Busy Signal for the retro-themed single, Bumaye, which has garnered close to 50 million YouTube views for the song and accompanying video. In May, award-winning dancer, Mystic Davis, who featured in the Bumaye video, featured on Major Lazer’s single, Bubble Butt alongside Bruno Mars, Tyga and 2 Chainz. That single has pushed the 20 million views mark on YouTube and peaked at number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singleschart this past summer.
Busy Signal is an emerging commercial force in dancehall and put him with Major Lazer and the results will be epic.
The dancehall star’s new video with Major Lazer “Watch Out For This (Bumaye)” has already rocked up more than 22 million views on YouTube.
The 1990s themed dancehall music video was directed by Jay Will of Game Over Films. The video has been garnering a lot of attention from dancehall fans worldwide.
The single was produced by Major Lazer and features Busy Signal rhyming over a catchy old school dancehall beat.
“Watch Out For This (Bumaye)” appeared on Major Lazer’s new album Free The Universe. The track also samples The Flexican and FS Green from The Flexican’s single “Bumaye” that was featured on their mixtape Yours Truly: The Mixtape Part II, released in 2011.
The song has so far charted in major European markets including France, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, and Denmark.