4:11 pm, Mon March 18, 2019
Thursday, February 21, 2019 2 Comments
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Although the line-up for Reggae Sumfest 2019 is yet to be announced, worldwide interest in this year’s renewal is already being evaluated through early ticket sales.
According to the promoters the results showed that excitement is already high among patrons for 27th staging of the iconic event.
“Ticket sales have gotten off to a running start, following a early bird ticket flash sale inclusive of both general admission and VIP passes that sold out in less than the 48 hours allotted for the online sale,” their release said.
Commenting on the already high demand for tickets, Downsound Entertainment (DSE) boss, Joe Bogdanovich noted that, although it is still early in the year, there was such strong demand for tickets that they decided to do a short early bird sale, to offer discounted prices to our loyal patrons.
“Even we were a bit surprised at how quickly it sold out. This is a great sign, it shows just how strong the Sumfest brand is, and how much support there is for the event, both in and outside Jamaica. People love the event, the music and the overall experience of being in Jamaica surrounded by the amazing culture,” Bogdanovich said.
Sumfest 2019 promises to be one for the books, with an impressive schedule of events leading up to the greatly anticipated concert nights on July 19 and 20.
The week of events is expected to kick off on July 14 with the Sumfest Mawnin Medz beach party, followed by the Street Dance, All White Party, All Black Blitz Party, Global Sound Clash and the Reggae Sumfest Symposium.
Illustrious guests gathered at The Gleaner’s North Street offices in Kingston yesterday for the first of three category luncheons to recognise this year’s recipients of the RJRGLEANER Honour Awards. Recipients, aglow with pride, exuded humility as they took the spotlight, reflecting on the year that was and offering a peak into the future.
It has been dubbed ‘The Greatest Reggae Show on Earth’ and for years, July has seen persons from home and abroad trek to Montego Bay, St James, for Reggae Sumfest, an experience like no other.
First held in 1993, Sumfest, over the years, presented patrons with three nights of live stage shows, namely, Dancehall Night and two international nights.
In 2016, Chairman of Downsound Entertainment Josef James Bogdanovich took over Reggae Sumfest and set out to revamp the show into what he called a music festival, featuring a week of parties and activities and a two-night show dubbed ‘Main Festival Nights One and Two’, with mainly dancehall and reggae artistes.
“We came up with the idea that we do have superstars here, we do have international stars here and that’s called reggae music and dancehall music. A lot of people at that time said, ‘That’s not going to work, you need international acts’. We did pretty good that year, 2016; the attendance was a lot higher than it was in the previous year and we got a lot of international fan base. It was a successful entry into the market,” Bogdanovich told The Gleaner.
He said that in 2017, the attendance in the venue doubled that of 2016, while the online viewers tripled. According to Bogdanovich, several million viewers looked at the Sumfest archives over the following weeks, and this was very encouraging for him.
“And then last year (2018), we kept raising the bar with production. A lot of people who came there last year said that they hadn’t been to Sumfest in, like, 10 years and coming back, they all enjoyed themselves.
“But we have always had international artistes there and we always have our eyes open for international acts, but we have got to make a business sense out of it and we certainly support our music, our festival and with promoting the youth.
“This year, we will be promoting a lot of the females and the younger artistes than ever before, and we have some good bookings right now,” said Bogdanovich.
Against that background, Reggae Sumfest 2018 is the recipient of this year’s RJRGLEANER Honour Awards in the entertainment category, for the success of its strategy to present an all-Jamaican line-up for the festival last year.
It is an award which Bogdanovich said was unexpected and one that he really appreciates.
“I was surprised to even hear about it. I have been pretty busy, and I think it’s great to be acknowledged. Acknowledgements don’t really come easy here in Jamaica and I think it’s just part of my journey here in Jamaica, and I think it’s wonderful. I am very thankful,” said Bogdanovich.
The Downsound boss said that while he is a big supporter of doing business in Jamaica, and has quite a few investments here, it’s not an easy place to do business, but his passion for the music and for Jamaica keeps him going.
“There’s opportunity here in Jamaica, (but) education has got to get better. The violence has to come down, (and) people have to understand that we have to get this place stable, and it’s getting better. I think things are a lot better; the economy is getting better and more people are working.
“There is always a challenge in the concert business here. There are very few concerts going on and I know that a lot of people are trying to get back into the concert business.
“It’s not an easy business, and people are fickle and they are not easy to please, but we really are champions and we love reggae music and we love the culture. Here at Downsound, we are very passionate about the music and what we represent, and it’s exciting,” said Bogdanovich.
He has a clear vision for the island that he now calls home.
According to Bogdanovich, he wants to see the continued growth of reggae and dancehall music, with young people contributing to the country instead of migrating.
“The way to get them to come back is to give them some real opportunity, and it’s hard because it’s a small country and the dollar is not worth as much as it used to be. It is just a hard struggle, so it’s the family structure that has to be strengthened.
“The reason why I think Jamaica can do so well in terms of the future is because Jamaicans are very competitive, and they are smart and they are overachievers, some of them,” declared Bogdanovich.
He added that he has a clear vision for the latest chapter in his life in Jamaica.
“I am trying to make a mark, trying to give opportunity to people, to give them some opportunity with good business practise, and do as much as I can for reggae music and for dancehall and for the artistes’ community. That’s what I’m interested in and that’s my vision for the future,” said Bogdanovich.
ON THE AWARD: “I think it’s great to be acknowledged. Acknowledgements don’t really come easy here in Jamaica and I think it’s just part of my journey here in Jamaica and I think it’s wonderful. I am very thankful.”
VISION FOR JAMAICA: “The reason why I think Jamaica can do so well in terms of the future is because Jamaicans are very competitive, and they are smart and they are overachievers, some of them.”
December 5, 2018
Dressed in a red suit jacket and matching vest with a long gold chain around his neck, Popcaan launched into a few lines from “Gangster City.” The track was recorded back in 2010 when Popcaan was a member of Vybz Kartel’s Portmore Empire and the dress code was tank tops, fitted caps, and bandanas. That same year, his catchy cameo on Kartel’s single “Clarks” helped elevate Popcaan’s profile around the world. Eight years later he’s a top attraction at Jamaica’s biggest music festival, but it’s clear that the Unruly Boss, as he’s now known, will never forget the struggle of his early days. “I’m from a place where dog eat dog,” he sang on the track. “Mi know ’bout living hard.”
The song’s title is a nickname for Three West, the government-subsidized housing scheme in the Jamaican city of Portmore where young Andrae Hugh Sutherland was raised from the age of seven. Popcaan has come a long way since then, a journey recounted on his acclaimed debut album Where We Come From, released on Mixpak Records in 2014. “I’m representing my whole community, people who have been through it with me,” he said of the project back then. “It’s not really my story alone.”
Popcaan’s debut featured a collaboration with Pusha T, and since then the youth from Gangster City has become an in-demand international recording artist, sampled by Kanye West and collaborating on hits with Drake, Jamie XX and Young Thug, Giggs, Gorillaz and Stefflon Don, to name a few. The buzz surrounding his name has built anticipation for his sophomore album, Forever, to a fever pitch.
The night before Popcaan hit the Sumfest stage, he premiered his new album in the streets of Kingston. The free Thursday evening listening session took place in the parking lot of Triple Century Sports Bar and was streamed around the world via Boiler Room TV. “Big dreams weh we have, thank God we still livin’ it,” he sang before his DJ Creep Chromatic pressed play on the album. “Me did broke like dog. Now I am winning it…”
During both the Kingston listening event and his Sumfest set, Popcaan made a point of bigging up Vybz Kartel, who is currently appealing his conviction on murder charges. “All who say Kartel fe free say Free!” Popcaan instructed the crowd. Even after seven years behind bars, Kartel remains a popular figure in Jamaica’s dancehall scene. During his absence Popcaan has elevated from protege to pop star, racking up over a million followers on Instagram, where he can be seen rocking stages around the world or racing his collection of motorcycles through the streets of Jamaica. The inevitable jealousy from his peers in Jamaica is one of the recurring themes of Forever. “This music biz is like a battle to me,” he sings on “Firm & Strong,” one of the early singles from the album. “So much f**king hatred and grudge.”
“I’m sharing my experience with the fans,” Popcaan told us from backstage after the show. “Certain songs on Forever is very personal, like ‘Silence’ and ‘Happy Now.’ And it is coming straight from things weh happen to me in my life. This album is just a continuation of Where We Come From to make them know say Popcaan is here Forever.”
Even as he declares his longevity in the game, Popcaan admits that his success has come at a serious price. “Watch who you tell when you a buy new Bimma, careful who you confide inna,” he sings on the album-opening cut “Silence,” which explores the downside of leveling up. “Ah nuh anybody pour my drink, an nuh anybody buy my dinner / So hard fi trust your enemy, hard fi trust your friend / Me nah lie, mi love me family but mi nuh trust the whole a dem.” As if to drive home this chilling confession, Popcaan follows the line up with, “Might sound f**k up but ah so me feel.” Once a carefree artist known as the Raving King, Popcaan has always used his music to speak truth. The Forever album is no exception.
Popcaan touched on related issues throughout his Sumfest set, from the dreamy “Weed Is my Best Friend” to the harder-edged “Never Fear Them.” Between songs, he addressed a few words to his rivals in the ultra-competitive dancehall industry. “Some artists try to test me and get me mad,” he stated. “But we on a mission to take the music further.” He punctuated these remarks with his latest signature catchphrase, “Dem Dead.”
Along with his gift for crafting infectious melodies, Popcaan is famous for coining popular slang expressions like “TR8” “Wha!” “Killy Killy” and “Kick Out… Far Out!” He now drops “Dem Dead”—sometimes used as a question, sometimes as an exclamation—throughout his live shows, conversation and as a social media hashtag.
“It’s the influence,” he explained backstage. “People enjoy the things them weh me say… Like sometime people say them a foolishness. But as time goes by, even who say that a foolishness join in. Because is something weh them never hear yet. Is something weh make them feel happy when them hear it.” Popcaan considers his gift of gab to be a blessing. “There’s are a lot of artists and not every artist have the same meds or the same power,” he says. “I’m very grateful for being who I am.”
As the sun began to rise over Montego Bay, a city that’s been under a state of emergency since last January when a joint military and police task force was deployed to quell a wave of violence in the island’s leading tourist center, Popcaan delivered two of his more inspirational numbers. First, he called Dre Island onstage to perform “We Pray” and then he delivered his biggest recent hit, a song called “Family.” His lyrics on the track harkened back to his journey to stardom: “Although man make it now, me know how struggle feel, and me know all the p***y them, and me know who f**kin’ real.” As flames shot into the dawn sky, Popcaan delivered the lines with evident passion.
On the new album cut “Deserve It All,” Popcaan reflects on the hard work he put in to reach this level. “Nuh bother ask why mi happy so,” he says. “Without food whole heap a daysmi did haffi go / Some bwoy can’t walk the road them weh Poppy go… Tears of joy me did cry yunno / First time mi bring mommy go a Poppy show.”
“Family is always first to Popcaan,” he explained after the show as his parents and grandparents looked on along with his brothers and sister, as well as childhood friends from Portmore like Grizzle Bear, who’s been shouted out on numerous records. “I don’t care, as long as my family is good.”
In his final words, Popcaan sent a message to his fans in the U.S., a territory he has yet to visit due to visa issues. “Tell them me soon forward,” he said. “Popcaan soon check in America. Big up all Popcaan fans in worldwide. Love and respect forever.”
Published:Friday | July 27, 2018 |
The Grace Kitchens Cafe jerked ‘tings’ up at the 2018 staging of Reggae Sumfest. The food court, officially sponsored by Grace Foods, brought the perfect mix of delicious food and positive vibes to the festival with their mouth-watering menu offerings at the Grace Kitchens Cafe.
The hardest decision was what to choose with a menu that offered something for everybody and included Grace Foil-roasted Jerk Fish, Grace Jerk BBQ ribs, Grace Jerk Chicken Pasta, Grace Sweet Corn on the Cob with Jerk Butter and for dessert, Grace Buttered Almond Bread Pudding served with caramel and crushed almonds.
Those who visited the Cafe on Dancehall night might have even run into Artiste and Grace Brand Ambassador Ding Dong, who stopped by with his Ravers crew to get enjoy the food and fun during the greatest reggae show on earth.