Before dancehall deejay Spice graced the stage at the Pride Toronto Festival on Friday, her performance was labelled as a “political statement“.
These words were uttered by Jamaican-born Andrew Campbell, who had the honour of introducing her at the concert which saw hundreds in attendance.
“Spice being here, is more than just entertainment. It’s a political statement. It is saying to dancehall and deejays and artists, who are homophobic, that we are not standing for homophobia and transphobia, anymore. It is a political statement that Spice is standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community,” he said.
The entertainer — whose given name is Grace Hamilton — treated her fans to a slew of hit songs, including such as So Mi Like It, Send It Up, Sheet, Indicator, Genie, and Fight Over Man.
She also paused to comment on the fact that some of her colleagues in the local entertainment industry was against her performing at the festival.
“First of all let me talk about coming to Toronto, [and] how much bashing I got to come here. Let’s talk about that. They didn’t want me to come here to perform for you guys! When I made the announcement that I am gonna be performing at Pride 2022, it became the biggest thing on the Internet. They didn’t want me here!” she told her screaming fans.
“But even if I was the only one from Jamaica to stand my grounds and stand up as a black woman to fight for my fans, to fight for what I believe in, to fight for all a you, I am standing here because I love all a you, and I know you love me too, because you came out in your tens and thousands,” Spice added.
The annual festival — which took place between June 15-26 — also included Trans March, Dyke March, Bi+ Pride Programming, Blockorama by Blackness Yes, Pride Parade, StreetFair, Cabana Pool Party, and Island Party.
When news broke last November that she would be headlining the show, popular producer/selector Foota Hype lashed out. Rastafarian entertainer Sizzla Kolanji also made his disapproval known.
“I was banking on hope that no matter what, @spiceofficial would never give in to something like this. I guess I was dead wrong. This is a big ‘L’ for the ancestors of Jamaica and the music given to us by the Almighty,” Foota Hype said in part in a lengthy Instagram post, at the time.
Sizzla, on the other hand, urged artistes not to mix reggae and dancehall with “your evil, nasty ways.”
Spice first came to prominence with the 2009 single Romping Shop, alongside Vybz Kartel. In recent years, she has taken her brand outside dancehall boundaries by co-starring in the VH1 reality series Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta.