ST JAMES, Jamaica – After a two-year hiatus from live shows owing to the coronavirus pandemic, Reggae Sumfest returned to Catherine Hall with a stellar lineup on Friday, as performances from established acts and a host of rising stars brought the Montego Bay entertainment complex to life on Night 1.
While many among the thousands at the sprawling venue waited with great anticipation to see what the new stars of dancehall would deliver, it was the more experienced acts who made an impression early.
Ding Dong, Chronic Law, Spice, Aidonia, Govana, Alkaline, Ishawna and Shenseea all proved that time is indeed the master of all things good and perfect, each delivering a standout set that was well received by the audience.
Ding Dong brought his usual energetic set. Delivering hits such as Bounce, Stir Fry, Watch Dem and his remix of Finesse, he had the crowd feeding on his every word, before making way for a son of the soil, Chronic Law.
The law boss, a product of Montego Bay, did not disappoint the home crowd as he dished out hit after hit. Serving up favorites such as Hillside, Government Badness, Bless Me and more, Chronic Law proved why he has remained a force on the local music scene.
In her usual element as ‘queen of the stage’, Spice made her entrance wearing an intergalactic space suit while accompanied by dancers in astronaut gear. She fittingly began her set with Different Category before segueing into a string of hits in her usual fiery style that reminded audience members what indeed separates her from others in the dancehall. At the end of her set, Sumfest boss Josef Bogdanovich placed a gold tiara on her head to ‘officially’ crown her ‘Queen of Dancehall’ amid ear-shattering screams.
Aidonia was in his element as he served up hits such as Yeah Yeah, Banga, Dat Eazy, Big Balla, Breeze and Real Killa among others. The 4th Genna leader did no wrong and had the crowd fully engaged from the start of his set until he made his exit.
Before Aidonia, his protégé Govana had Catherine Hall completely captivated as he churned out tracks such as Likkle Bit A Money, Bake Bean, Champ and the highly enthralling HAMANTS Convo.
Alkaline demonstrated his growth as a performer with a mature set – filled with hits such as ATM, City, Ocean Wave and more – that was well received.
Ishawna meanwhile stirred controversy when she used a carboard cutout of veteran deejay Bounty Killer to embellish her performance of Equal Rights, her hit song about the taboo topic of oral sex which is often condemned by the ‘Warlord’.
In the meantime, Shenseea silenced her critics at home with a sizzling set which showed why she consistently sells out venues overseas. From the moment she hit the stage, the Interscope artiste was in the pink of form and rocked the crowd with a string of hits that included Blessed, Lighter, Shen Yeng Anthem and Foreplay.
Still, it was Masicka who was a cut above the rest.
Indeed, the Top Form deejay showed that since the pandemic-induced break on the music scene, he has remained one of the industry's most consistent artistes. He did not need gimmicks or props to win over the audience inside Catherine Hall as his catalogue spoke for itself and elicited deafening screams from the crowd. Clearly feeding off the energy of the audience, he revealed that it has been three years since his last performance on local soil and noted that, although he may not be considered one of the most popular acts out of Jamaica, he is definitely one of the most consistent.
“Mi a one a di baddest artistes inna di business. Dem can’t find hit song like me, no time. A talk dem talk and try fi hide mi glory. Mi a di baddest artiste inna Jamaica right now,” he said to even louder screams and cheers.
Masicka delivered songs such as Update, Suicide Note, Moments, his collaboration with Stefflon Don, King, Image, They Don’t Know, Top Striker, Stay Strong, Top Form and many more.
While the veteran acts made the biggest impression, the young turks – from LaaLee to Jashii to Skeng Don – still showed that the entertainment industry is in safe hands.
Hometown girl Moyann made the most of her debut. Gracing the stage in a lovely gold ensemble, she performed songs such as No Limit, Run Out, Backseat and How We A Live, her collaboration with Jahshii, that were all well received by an appreciative audience.
LaaLee, who lists Major Mackerel, Professor Nuts and Beenie Man as his stage inspirations, delivered an energetic set and had Catherine Hall dancing up a storm. It was sweet redemption for the Leggo Di Bird artiste who missed his performance slot back in 2018 due to unforseen issues.
Taking the opportunity to savour every moment, LaaLee brought his mother onto the stage for a dance off that was well received by the crowd. He did well to get the ball rolling for the main acts of the night.
Fast rising dancehall stars Rytikal, 450, Jashii and Brysco all did well to maintain the momentum as they added their own sauce to a spectacular showcase of talent. They all showed that they have what it takes to continue in the business for years to come.
Top act Skeng brought the curtains down on the night with his slew of hits that are tearing up the airwaves at the moment including Protocol, Gvnman Shift and Curves, every word of which were lapped up by his screaming fans inside Catherine Hall.