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by Jodee Brown
Acclaimed Dancehall artist, Macka Diamond is out on the defensive after a picture leaked online from an upcoming video showing her hanging from a cross, mirroring the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The picture, taken from the shoot of her upcoming video for her single, Wicked Heart, triggered social media furor this past week, with some insisting she committed blasphemy by doing the act and crossed the line of artistic expression.
In a radio interview Friday, the Dye Dye singer denied this was the case, saying the picture and meaning behind it were taken out of context.
“To be frank, I was never looking at it that way. It’s since I’m seeing the comments (that) I really started to think about it,” she told IRIE FM. “According to Jamaican terms, we she, ‘Chu, people a crucify mi..dem nah get mi down.’ I wasn’t even thinking aobut this Jesus ting or nail mi hand…like I dying for nobody sins. It is not as deep as everybody is thinking.”
Macka said the scene was only done as a way to represent the recent criticisms fired her way, particularly since her controversial lyrical clash with long-time rival,Lady Saw at STING last December. Wicked Hearthas been branded by many in the music industry as a diss track aimed at Saw.
This is not the first time an artist has done a crucifixion in his or her videos or songs. hip hop superstar,Nas pulled off a similar tactic in 1999, hanging from a cross in the visuals for his smash hit, Hate Me Now, which featured P Diddy.
The official video for Wicked Heart will be released in the coming weeks.
by Jodee Brown
Queen Ifrica is standing her ground on her views on homosexuality and marijuana and used the stage at Rebel Salute 2014 in St Ann on Saturday night to make it clear those views would find expression.
However, she justified her anti-homosexuality views by referring to the reproductive process.
“Children are the future and them can only born through heterosexual relationship,” Ifrica said, asking for the acknowledgement of persons who knew that children could not be born out of an orifice other than the vagina.
She got it.
Initially, Ifrica took subtle jabs at those she has angered with her anti-gay stance, making it quite clear in her performance that she has no plans to surrender her right to free speech.
In fact, after blazing delightful fires with selections like Lioness on the Rise, Below the Waist, and Genocide, she emphasised her stance unequivocally, reeling off Straight and Keep it to Yourself.
ADDRESSING SOCIAL ISSUES
And homosexuality was not the only thing that Ifrica opposed vehemently as she blazed against paedophilia, as well as black people dying in Sudan “and world leaders negotiating about some things that nuh necessary in this time”.
Another issue on which Ifrica stood firm was the value of marijuana, doing Coconut Shell.
At the nationally televised Grand Gala 2013, held at the National Stadium in St Andrew, the microphone was turned off when Ifrica was speaking about marijuana and homosexuality.
After that performance, the Ministry of Youth and Culture released a statement, expressing “… our regret that the Grand Gala stage was used by one artiste, Queen Ifrica, as a platform to express her personal opinions and views on matters that may be considered controversial, rather than to perform in the agreed scripted and rehearsed manner consistent with the thematic production”.
Then, Ifrica stood by her words, saying in a response printed in The STAR that “until a member of the gay community can give birth from their union, they should not be abrasive to heterosexuals because they came from that union”.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
On Saturday night in St Ann, Ifrica also did Freedom of Speech, the song with which she responded musically to that situation.
At Rebel Salute 2014, Queen Ifrica was clearly in a no-nonsense mood from the get-go, opening with the chant “bongo woman come”.
Those who initially thought she had softened her stance on homosexuality when she did not do the line “no mm mm man cyaa come inna mi bed” in Below the Waist were mistaken.
After Genocide, Ifrica said coming was “de hot segment”, and asked for all the straight men and women inside the venue.
There were many. Straight followed, in which Ifrica said she was “straight like de lightpost outta mi gate”. Her comments about children and homosexuality came before Keep it to Yourself.
Queen Ifrica was not all social commentary and fire branding though, bringing a light moment to her set when she invited the Japanese duo, Ackee & Salt Fish, to perform.
The two came out clad in traditional Japanese clothing and quickly won the hearts of the fans as they sang and deejayed in almost flawless patois, also making a straight declaration in the process.
– Additional reporting by Mel Cooke
by Jodee Brown
Reggae/Dancehall star, Sizzla Kalonji is once again facing heat for his stances against homosexuality following his recent performance at STING 2013 as organizers for an upcoming festival in the Netherlands have removed him from their lineup, according to reports Tuesday.
The revered singer will not perform his scheduled gig at the Melkweg festival on March 16 in Amsterdam after organizers were made aware of Sizzla’s set at STING 2013, where he spoke out against gay relationships throughout.
Organizers said they did not want to offer a stage to any artist who sings ‘very hurtful and hateful lyrics.’
Patrons who had purchased tickets to see Sizzla will be refunded, according to organizers. Sizzla has yet to respond to the organizers’ stance.
This development comes days after STING organizers banned the entertainer for ‘promoting hate music,’ saying they warned him not to sing such lyrics during his performance, which was broadcast on pay-per-view to viewers worldwide.
Sizzla is among five artists nominated for the Best Reggae Album award at this year’s Grammy Awards, set to take place on Jan. 26 in Los Angeles.
by Jodee Brown
Two days following the announcement that Reggae/Dancehall artists, Sizzla and D’Angel were banned from future editions of STING following their controversial performances at the show’s 30th anniversary, both are crying foul following their punishments.
Isaiah Laing, the show’s lead organizer, announced Tuesday that Sizzla was banned from the show for promoting ‘hate music’ during his performance, in which he repeatedly hit out against homosexuality.D’Angel, meanwhile, was banned for at least five years as a patron following her impromptu clash with Ninja Man at the Dec. 26 show, which saw her spread her legs and gyrate while wearing a short dress during her set, before giving a bizarre post-performance interview later in the night.
D’Angel defended her actions in an interviewpublished Thursday in the Jamaica STAR, saying that she did nothing out of the ordinary given the hardcore nature STING has possessed over the years, while saying she has seen artists split, gyrate and sing lyrics that could be deemed explicit, without any punishment.
“As a grown woman and an artiste, I am entitled to entertain and perform,” she said “I have been watching Sting from I was a child and there is nothing that I did on stage at Sting that was far-fetched from all the things that have happened on that stage over the years.”
“I stayed true to the culture of Sting, which is energy-packed entertainment,” she continued. “I think outside the box. I was just having fun. It was just solid and mature entertainment. The patrons enjoyed it and the fans were happy. I represented dancehall on a wider scale. My music and career is not based on one night, my career goes on after this.”
Sizzla’s publicist, Olimatta Taal responded on behalf of the Grammy-nominated singer, saying organizers should not have attempted to censor him for speaking out against issues deemed illegal in the constitution.
“It is Laing’s show but he knows the artiste that Sizzla is and he knows what Sizzla represents,” she said.“If you book him for a show, don’t censor him. If you want to fight the issue, then fight the Government…Sizzla was just expressing the values he was brought up on. Don’t censor the artiste for that.”
Neither artist indicated whether they will challenge these bans.
by Jodee Brown
Days after giving what some said was the best performance of STING 2013, Reggae singer, Sizzla Kalonji has been banned from future editions of the show by its lead promoter, Isaiah Laing, for alleged hate lyrics performed during his set, according to reports Tuesday evening.
The Grammy-nominated artist gave a rousing, hard-hitting set during the 30th anniversary show, in which he spoke out strongly against homosexuality, negative connotations attached to marijuana, among other societal issues. According to Laing, Sizzla’s ban comes as result of continuous rants against homosexuals throughout his performance, which went against a pre-show agreement with organizers not to sing anti-gay lyrics during his set.
“Sizzla was warned repeatedly before going onstage about not promoting hate music and he went up there and did it repeatedly,” the Supreme Promotions CEO told the Jamaica Gleaner. “We are going international and we warned every artiste before they went on to the stage.”
Meanwhile, D’Angel is also in hot water with Laing after giving a controversial set of her own at STING.The popular deejay was banned for at least five years as a patron following a clash with Ninja Man for what Laing called an ‘embarrassing’ stint. During the impromptu set, D’Angel surprised the crowd when during her performance, she spread her legs multiple times while only wearing a short dress. She also made several references to needing to pay for her son’s school fee as she was not initially booked to do the show.
Both bans were reportedly confirmed on Saturday following a meeting.
“What kind of image is D’Angel portraying as a mother? he told The Gleaner. “She’s saying she came to clash but that’s not how the clash went. It was not about Ninja Man, she embarrassed herself. At least a five-year ban for D’Angel.”
“We don’t need your money D’Angel. Stay home. Watch the event on pay-per-view next year,” Laing continued.
A press release, issued by STING 30 promoters on Tuesday illustrated the organizers’ frustration with some of the acts during their performances, saying they were, “inconsistent with their efforts to provide energetic and authentic Jamaican entertainment.”
“We believe that our artistes will take note of the observations which will assist us in effecting the kinds of control that we have been working assiduously to maintain and introduce,” the statement continued.“We wish to commend the majority of artistes who appeared on the show and performed in accordance with the standards which are reflective of our objectives.”
“Sharp lyrical exchanges and colorful performances are staples of our annual offering, however, in accordance with our efforts to internationalize the event, we strive to ensure that the performances conform to accepted standards of decency and decorum.”
STING 30 was broadcast to overseas viewers, via pay-per-view and a live stream worth just under $US40 each.
by Jodee Brown
After a night filled with clashes, eye-raising moments and the return of a legend, STING 2013, the 30th anniversary of the ‘Greatest Dancehall show on Earth’ on Dec. 26 certainly entertained and provoked thoughts throughout, leaving music lovers with lots of talking points to dissect for a long time coming.
The show, organized by Supreme Promotions and Downsound Records was, in this writer’s opinion, the most intriguing one since 2008 when the rivalry between Vybz Kartel and Mavado came to a head. Highlights were prevalent and lowlights were evident; here’s a look at some of those performances and moments in this STING 30 review.
Early Segments: STING, perhaps given the amount of entertainers on the bill, started shortly after 8 a.m. Amongst the emerging artists that performed within the first two hours of STING were Kalado and Toronto based deejay Touchless, who gave short, yet effective sets, going into songs like You Make Me Feel and Summer Body respectively. However, it was fast-rising Reggae sensation, Jah Bouks that was a hit with the smaller crowd inside the Portmore-based Jamworld, performing his big hit, Angola as well as newer material such as Going Home. His performance savvy, seen at a slew of show this year, makes him a must-watch act in 2014 and beyond.
Though STING draws a hardcore Dancehall following, pure Reggae acts always find strong favor with the crowd, and this year was no exception. As per usual, Etana andI-Wayne drew some of the best responses from the typically judgmental audience, with the former bringing out Alborosie for a strong rendition of their collaborative hit,Blessings while the latter connected with his female following with, Girl I Love You.
While the likes of Nature and Iba Mahr also presented high energy sets, the stand out performance came from one Romain Virgo, who repeatedly hinted that this year might be the last year he performs at the show. It was a surprising admission from the 23-year-old phenom, who went into hits such as Who Feels It Knows It, Rain Is Falling, Mi Prefer Wait and Serious Times while decked out in all-white. Whatever the reasoning was behind those utterances is unknown, but after giving one of the best sets throughout the night, no one will be hoping he actually lives up to his proclamation.
STING 30 went out of its element by inviting international artists to the show to provide a different flavor to its fans. Unlike the more mixed crowd for Reggae Sumfest, however, it was always going to take a lot more effort to appease this crowd and in the case of 2 Chainz, he learned that the hard way.
The American rap star’s set started off on the wrong foot with technical issues dominating the first five minutes. Once his mic was finally fixed, his set just failed to get off the ground. In a performance littered with unapologetic cursing, he did songs like Birthday Suit, No Lie and others to an unmoved, silent crowd who did not seem to know exactly how to react. No matter how much he tried to warm up to them, it just was not connecting; frankly looking like a mismatch between artist and fan base. He incessantly complained about his stage time late in his performance, but perhaps this flop of a set should have ended sooner given the circumstances.
On the other hand, Wyclef Jean went over with the Portmore-based crowd by doing something that will always get you in their good graces, shouting out incarcerated Dancehall superstar and Portmore native, Vybz Kartel. After renditions of classics such as Gone Till November and911, as well as a smattering of poetry, Wyclef went into the crowd before unleashing a pair of Kartel hits for the crowd to savor. Also shouting out Buju Banton and convicted drug baron,Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke during his set, Wyclef endeared himself to the crowd the best way he could, by indulging in the culture.
Now at age 50 and 11 years removed from his last performance in Jamaica, the return of the ‘Don Dada,’ Supercat to the STING stage was filled with as much mystery as there was anticipation, considering how scarce he has been on the music stage in recent years.
However, the legendary Dancehall/Reggae star showed why he is still one of the most feared and respected performers in the game, recovering from a somewhat slow opening to launch into full gear with hits like Si Boops Deh, Unda Pressure and Dolly My Baby.
The crowd loved it and there was a flow to his set, the longest of the night. Supercat also showcased some new material, including talking about his ‘doggie leg,’ but his mere presence in a white suit, sporting a beard and curls was a pleasure to witness. Hopefully, there will be more sightings of this Jamaican music great in the years to come.
Truth be told, to call this highly anticipated showdown between the ‘Queen of Dancehall’ Lady Saw and Macka Diamonda clash may be overstating it a bit. This was more of a shouting match than anything else; providing more moments of entertainment than quality lyrical content.
Saw was in no joking mood throughout the night, giving a X-rated performance that kept eyes fixated throughout, particularly during her performance of Heels On, when she called out model, Tyson Beckford and simulated a sexual position on stage while singing. Following her standout performance, she called out Macka to the stage. Macka, donning all-black and face paint, did a clash-friendly rendition of her hit, Dye Dye before all hell broke loose. The two nearly butted heads before Lady Saw went out in full attack mode, alleging several sexual relationships Macka had in the music business before letting her lyrics do the talking.
Though said lyrics were not up to the standard we’re usually accustomed to from the legendary deejay, she was never pushed to go into second gear with a seemingly intimidated Macka pushed to the brink of admitting defeat near the end, saying ‘Mi will die trying.’ That line alone proved how one-way this ‘clash’ was. Saw was ruthless as she saw her prey and wouldn’t let up once she had it in her clutches, making Macka ‘die die’ lyrically as she unleashed her vocal bullets.
Ninja Man has faced his share of tough opponents in the clash arena – Supercat, Mad Cobra, Merciless and Kiprich – but this year’s clash rival was relatively new in that area of music. After winning a celebrity clash against Ishawna in November,D’Angel decided to respond to a lyric the ‘Don Gorgon’ sang about her during his set. She used her retort to address a fresh controversy about a picture exposing her privates that circulated on the internet shortly before Christmas. Not only did she use it as material in her answer to Ninja Man, she even ‘skinned out,’ in front of the audience while wearing a short blouse, adding a raunchiness to her set that she is not typically known for. She was unafraid of the repercussions and certainly prompted bulged eyes to be made throughout this short-lived clash.
Otherwise, Aidonia and Beenie Man were relatively solid throughout their sets, Tommy Lee seemed reflective as he talked about his car accident and expressed his desire for a United States visa during his performance and Mavado put to rest any recent speculation about his relationship with mentor, Bounty Killer by shouting him out during his performance – a combination of old school gangsta hits mixed with a few newer songs.
But the single best performance of the night had to be Sizzla Kalonji, who was in a militant mood, performing classics like Thank You Mama, Trod Mount Zion, Be Strong and many more. Often free styling and even throwing a couple of barbs in the direction of STING’s lead promoter, Isaiah Laing, Sizzla made several points addressing homosexuality, Africa and many more topics to overwhelming approval from the crowd. He did not miss a beat, and should be given serious consideration to close the show in the near future.
After disposing of General B, Mercilessand even the clash king himself, Ninja Man, Kiprich was hoping for some competition for the clash title and a US$30,000 on the line to close the show. On stage stepped a surprise opponent in Black Ryno, who at the same show last year was pushed off stage by Popcaan during a heated exchange between ex Portmore Empireteammates.
Donning a very unusual costume, Kiprich looked to have underrated Ryno’s ability from the jump, but was quickly put in line by ‘Ryno Di Stinger’ with a quick, devastating flurry of lyrics which included mostly freestyles. After ‘Kippo’ made a reference to last year’s incident involving Ryno, however, the Facebook singer did not garner many likes as the clash went on as impatient, bipartisan crowd booed him as they rooted for their hometown artist. This was a unanimous decision in the end, leaving Kiprich with too much to overcome and Black Ryno with US$30,000 more in his pocket. Hopefully, this will be the start of a renaissance in the career of an artist still looking for his first big hit since severing ties with Vybz Kartel.
by Jodee Brown Organizers for the 30th edition of the popular STING concert series have now added Grammy-winning singer and producer, Wyclef Jean to the lineup, according to reports Wednesday. The Haitian-American musician, most renowned for his run with Lauryn Hill and Pras as part of The Fugees,was confirmed as a part of this year’s show, called Bring the Sting. The artist joins 2 Chainz as the show’s headline overseas acts for the show, while STING alsomarks the return of Dancehall legend, Supercat to the Jamaican scene for the first time since 2001. Wyclef is quite familiar with the Jamaican music makeup, having done a collaboration, while with The Fugees, alongside Bounty Killer for their song, Hip Hopera in the late 90s. He also has collaborated with Mavado on multiple occasions, including their hit, Holding On and, more recently, joining forces with the ‘Gully Gad; and Cris Cab for the single, Rihanna’s Gun. STING 30 is also expected to feature a number of top Dancehall and Reggae acts, including the aforementioned Mavado, Beenie Man, Lady Saw, Romain Virgo, Kiprich, Jah Bouks, Ninja Man and several more. The show will be broadcast live on pay-per-view and streamed live on the internet. It is scheduled to take place Dec. 26 at Jamworld in Portmore, St. Catherine.
by Jodee Brown
Not known for entertaining lyrical confrontations throughout his illustrious career, Dancehall/Reggae superstar, Mr. Vegas now seeks to break this mold by challenging one of the genre’s clash kings and long-time rival, Bounty Killer at STING 2013.
On Thursday, Vegas made his intention to clash the ‘War Lord’ public and insists he will not back down from Bounty at Dancehall’s most hyped showcase.
Vegas and Bounty’s years of verbal exchanges came to a head in September after a recent performance in which Vegas donned 70s plaid clothes and a fake afro, with the ‘Grung Gaad’ and his fans ridiculing the outfit. The seemingly petty argument turned into a flat out war of words with everything being questioned, from Vegas’ sexuality to Bounty’s status within the music.
Vegas later claimed that his relationship with an ex-girlfriend of Bounty’s was the reason behind this deep-seeded dislike his fellow deejay showed towards him.
Despite having no clashing experience, Mr. Vegas says he has studied enough about the history of Dancehall and the art of lyrical warfare that gives him the confidence to clash Bounty Killer and said he would even turn down his show in Dubai, scheduled for the same day as STING, just to confront the Allianceleader.
“Clash is to entertain people with lyrics, not bag a noise and nasty mouth,” he said “So, if a man come wid some fresh new lyrics, then mi wi cancel my show a Dubai and mek Laing run back the promoter food, just to show people sey mi can tek on Goliath.”
Mr. Vegas has even gone as far as to record a diss song against Bounty dubbed Bury Him Fuss, suggesting he is ready for a clash at STING.
Bounty Killer has yet to respond to Vegas’ challenge.
Last year, Bounty Killer was at the centre of another major feud, that time with former Vybz Kartel protégé,Tommy Lee Sparta, with many rumors swirling of a clash between those two at STING. However, Bounty ended that speculation by insisting he would not be at STING and that Tommy Lee Sparta was no established enough for him to take seriously in that setting.
STING 2013, the 30th anniversary of the show, will take place at Jamworld in St. Catherine on Dec., 26.