August 2019

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The tropical island of Jamaica, also known as the “land of wood and water,” got its name from the Indigenous Taino people who migrated to the island 2,500 years ago. Its unique history and African heritage heavily influence Jamaican culture. Initially inhabited by the Taino Indians from 1,000 BC., through the early 16th century, their culture thrived until the arrival of Spanish settlers. Due to disease, malnutrition, and slavery, the Taino civilization quickly became extinct. Christopher Columbus and Spanish settlers came in search of Gold and other natural resources, and Great Britain subsequently overthrew the Spanish in 1655.

Facts About Jamaican Festivals

IMG SOURCE: REDBULL.COM

Jamaica hosts vibrant, exciting festivals throughout the year. Some of the most popular festivals celebrated in Jamaica are Carnival and Reggae Sumfest. Carnival is typically observed in March before Easter and features music, dance, food, drinking, parties, and overall a fun party atmosphere. Reggae Sumfest is the largest music festival in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Sumfest is held every year in July in Montego Bay. Reggae’s popularity brings thousands of people to Jamaica each year.

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From Archrivals to Legendary Dancehall Idols, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man Traded Amicable Lyrical Barbs at Reggae Sumfest 2019

In was at the 1993 stage show at Jamworld in Portmore, Jamaica known as ‘Sting’, which used be held annually on December 26th—commonly referred to as Boxing Day—where the entire country was seemingly overwhelmed by pandemonium as, dancehall entertainer, Beenie Man was in the midst of his performance when it was rudely interrupted by a menacing chant ‘People Dead’….‘People Deadd’….‘Deaaddd!!’  A startled Beenie Man quickly realized what was afoot.  That is, the figurative yet sorrowful exclamation which was heard throughout the Jamworld venue was echoing from the microphone of his fierce archrival, Bounty Killer, who had barged on stage as if he was a gladiator to challenge Beenie Man to a lyrical clash live, direct and unannounced at what has become known simply as ‘Sting 1993’.   Well, at Reggae Sumfest 2019 these same two dancehall icons met again on stage, only thing is that this time they were on much friendlier terms—to the delight of the massive audience that was on hand.

Bounty Killer on stage at Reggae Sumfest 2019 – Montego Bay, Jamaica

Born under the name of Rodney Pryce, Bounty Killer, was raised in the gritty inner-city West Kingston community of Seaview Gardens—which lies in the often violence torn area of Riverton City.   Not too far from there is Waterhouse—yet another hard scrabble neighborhood in West Kingston, Jamaica.  Moses Davis, who is popularly known as Beenie Man in Jamaica’s vibrant dancehall scene, hailed from Waterhouse.  Going beyond music and entertainment, it is also noteworthy that Shelly Ann-Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica’s world renowned sprinter and Olympic Champion (as well as World Champion) in the sport of track and field is also from that community.   In switching back to the musical genealogy of Waterhouse, King Jammy, who was a magician where producing reggae and dancehall music is concerned, also has his recording studio based in Waterhouse.  It was King Jammy’s brother, Uncle T, who first noticed a youngster who would always be hanging around outside Jammy’s studio and putting his talents on display for all to see—oftentimes challenging and putting down his competition in quick order.   The young lad who was creating such an impression outside Jammy’s studio went by the name of ‘Bounty Hunter’ at that time.  An audition platform in many ways, there was also an area within Seaview called ‘Superstar Corner’, which was where ‘Bounty Hunter’ had been honing his microphone skills for purposes of deejaying his lyrics in the dancehalls of Jamaica.   In those days, Seaview was no stranger  to spawning big time dancehall acts.  After all, dancehalls first bonafide international superstar, Shabba Ranks, came from Seaview.  And so as a result of Shabba’s rise to fame, ‘Superstar Corner’ was where Bounty Hunter and other dancehall deejays were afforded the chance to prove their worth to producers in the Jamaican music industry.  It became apparent that Uncle T ceded his control over Bounty Hunter to the studio’s owner, King Jammy, once Jammy was impressed and inquired about Rodney Pryce. At some point in that shuffle, ‘Bounty Hunter’ changed his name to ‘Bounty Killer’ in that his competition in the dancehall were not simply going to be hunted, but actually lyrically eliminated.  As it happened, Bounty Killer’s first major studio gem to hit the airwaves was titled, ‘Coppershot’ which was released in 1993 on King Jammy’s 5 Star General Riddim.  Fittingly, as a result Bounty donned the moniker, ‘5 Star General’—among many others that he’d pick up over the course of his much storied career. From then onwards, Bounty Killer’s hit parade then just rolled on and on with songs like:  ‘Down in the Ghetto’, ‘Poor People Fed Up’‘Suspense’, Eagle and Di Hawk’‘Living Dangerously’(recorded with Barrington Levy), ‘Sufferer’‘Benz and Bimma’‘Can’t Believe Mi Eyes’, and ‘Hey Baby’ (recorded with the international pop group, No Doubt).

Meanwhile, another young star in dancehall was on the rise in the Waterhouse community just the same.  Born under the name of Moses Davis, Beenie Man was a musical prodigy in that at the tender age of nine years old he recorded with the famous Bunny Lee.  And so then, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer proceeded to release hit after hit from the studios.  But according to Bounty Killer, it was King Jammy alone who he used as a vehicle to propel his career to the top of the heap of dancehall deejays in not only Kingston, but the world over.  Where Beenie was concerned, arguably his biggest crossover-style hit on the international scene was the infectious ‘Who Am I ?’ (Sim Simma…Who Got the Keys to Mi Bimma?).  That song seemingly took the world by storm.  But before Beenie had risen to those heights, Bounty Killer was convinced that Beenie had imitated his style in many ways—without any acknowledgement.  Well, while that is certainly up for debate it is arguable that Bounty’s belief in Beenie’s thievery of his style and pattern, consequently touched off a multi-decade lyrical war between him and Beenie Man.  All the while, Beenie Man just kept piling up the hits in his own right:   ‘Romie’‘Slam’‘Rum & Redbull’‘Ole Dog’‘Girls Dem Sugar’‘World Dance’‘Memories’‘Dengue Fever’‘King of the Dancehall’, and so many more.

Beenie Man on stage at Reggae Sumfest 2019 – Montego Bay, Jamaica

As an aside, it is worthy of note that Bounty Killer also has an eye for spotting talent and nurturing up-and-coming artists on their way to stardom.  In this respect, it was Bounty Killer who brought up Elephant Man, Mavado, and Vybz Kartel—all of whom had reached mega stardom in Jamaica and beyond courtesy of Bounty’s assistance and tutelage.  And along the way, Bounty Killer also has been referred to as ‘Di Poor Peoples’ Governor’ after the release of his politically laced recordings such as:  ‘Down in the Ghetto’ and ‘Poor People Fed Up’ where Bounty lashed out at the Jamaican government for what he viewed as transgressions against poor people and ‘ghetto yutes’ throughout the Kingston inner-city landscape.  What’s more, Bounty has always been steadfast in giving back to Kingston’s inner-city community by distributing school supplies to the underprivileged as well as lending a hand in painting over the Kingston Public Hospital (which treated him for a gunshot wound he suffered as a 16 year old youngster).  And for that reason, Bounty Killer says he’s forever indebted to the hospital.

Bounty Killer – Reggae Sumfest 2019 – Montego Bay, Jamaica

Against this backdrop, these two dancehall icons, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man, treated the masses that gathered to revel in Festival Night I (a.k.a. Dancehall Night) at Reggae Sumfest 2019 in Montego Bay to a performance segment for the ages as both legends strutted their stuff and traded lyrics to many of their songs live and direct against each other—which ignited the Sumfest crowd since the segment was reminiscent of ‘Sting 1993’.  However, this time around Bounty exclaimed during their set that this was not about Beenie vs. Bounty, but rather it was about Moses and Rodney.   And during their joint performance, Beenie Man humorously quipped, “mi a war wid Bounty Killer for over 25 years.”  And so it was, the Bounty and Beenie saga captured in one sentence, but yet their dominance in dancehall endured for over two decades while each artist shall surely forever remain in the annuls of Jamaica’s musical history and folklore in recognition of their sheer dominance.  In the eyes of many, the musical feud between Bounty Killer and Beenie Man served to nourish both of their remarkable careers—which many artists in the industry nowadays can only envy—in terms of the consistency and creativity that they both were able to sustain for so long.  Not to say that it’s not possible, but it is doubtful that Jamaica will ever see such a dynamic duo that went at each other’s throats, and yet became so magnificent after the dust from their many skirmishes has finally settled.   In a recent interview, Bounty Killer stated that it was never personal where the feud between him and Beenie was concerned.  Rather, it was a constant competition and quest that they both undertook in order to show Jamaica and the world at large which one of them was ‘di baddest’!  Now folks, that is another debate, in and of itself, that can easily go on for another two decades.

Bounty Killer and Beenie Man together on stage at Reggae Sumfest 2019 – Montego Bay, Jamaica

Photography by Nick Ford, who lives and works in South Florida.

 

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Live streaming garnered millions of impressions from as far as Australia, Dubai, Nigeria, Russia and Denmark

Forbes explained that the return on their investment is largely predicated on serving clients outside of Jamaica, as well as meeting the needs of discerning local clients who target international distribution. The technology was launched at the recent staging of Reggae Sumfest.

As the host broadcaster for Reggae Sumfest, Phase 3 provided its multi-camera 4K coverage of the concert to approved content distributors. Live streaming garnered millions of impressions from as far as Australia, Dubai, Nigeria, Russia and Denmark.

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Reggae Sumfest Saturday: Sumfest takes fans into the sunrise with a lineup of reggae legends

 

 

 

 

 

 

After an epic Friday night Reggae Sumfest was not showing signs of slowing down. Looking at the itinerary it was evident that Saturday night was going to be another all nighter with Buju Banton serving up his set at sunrise. Attempting to arrive earlier in order to beat the traffic didn’t work as well as we’d hoped but offered up a chance for a lovely evening nap after a day out in the hot Jamaican sun. Now with the moon and stars out it was a whole new ‘day’.

Jah9 took the stage with a slight delay around 11pm, an early show by the local standards but we made it in time. Jah9 is a spiritual creature, a philanthropist, and a yoga instructor but for the purposes of this event, Jah9 is a reggae artists. These days Jah9 is working towards developing a “deeper, more personal deployment of her Jazz on Dub sound” while making her audiences “pause, breathe deeply, and feel empowered” – the 9 here stands for the symbol of creation and womb of the universe. While all that might sound like fancy bio jargon it’s all true. Naturally, Jah9’s performance was melodic, smoothly flowing from one track into another like a river. She smiled, talked about Jah, and shared small bits of truth while dancing through New name (2013), 9 (2016), and various older tracks like ”Steamers a bubble”.

After a couple of breaks, band changes, and a lovely performance by Etana, Protoje made his way out to greet the Sumfest crowd.

In interview with the Rolling Stone Protoje spoke about reggae as a genre: “It’s not some resort music that people drink piña coladas to […] Reggae and hip-hop have a close background together” he continued pointing out how he likes to “dance in between those.” His recent release, A Matter of Time, is a great example of reggae revival (resurgence of a conscious, organic, but up to date reggae). An album created for a global audience and meant to break down boundaries and stereotypes of the genre. A Matter of Time is a bit of a departure from Ancient Future which was a showcase of the history of Jamaican music. But in departure comes progress. As the headliner for reggae revival standing alongside Chronixx the two occasionally work together so, naturally, their music carries some resemblance. For his set Protoje brought out quite a few guests including Jesse Royal, Sevana, and Lila Ike. The guests who got the most horns going, however, were Agent Sasco and, of course, Chronixx, introduced as “The biggest artist of our generation.”

By the time Beres Hammond came out the area around the stage was packed to the brim. Beres is a reggae legend with three generations of fans, who’s easy to listen to romantic music has touched many hearts and inspired many musicians. This show was, in a way, a part of Hammond’s Never Ending tour, an album released last year, his 3rd #1 album on the Billboard reggae chart. With a 9-piece band supporting his set Beres charismatically and playfully cruised the stage with a sly smile. Now 63, Beres Hammond is truly an inspiration. As soon as his voice rang through Catherine Hall people seemed to take a step back from pushing and begun to sing along and sway.

A few years back Beres brought out Romain Virgo on stage to sing the “I Feel Good” rhythm which, he once told United Reggae, was his way of saying “Keep doing what you’re doing, kid”. Fast forward to today, six-plus years later Romain Virgo took the Sumfest stage following Mr Hammond.

Romain Virgo, wearing a 3-piece impressionable suit, is Jamaica’s own hopeless romantic. His latest album, Lovesick, released last year via VP records, is 16 tightly packed love songs. Having seen Romain at Sumfest a couple of years ago I knew, this is the artist who will turn all the women in the audience into lovestruck schoolgirls. Having chatted with Romain earlier that week what was fresh on my mind is a calm, somewhat self conscious artist, consistently looking to improve his act (interview coming soon). On stage, however, Romain carries himself with shameless charisma and charm. He sang to the women’s empowerment, encouraging pride and holding their heads high. Agent Sascomade another stage appearance for “Fade Away” from Lifted (2015). For this track the background video spoke to the high numbers of missing children. The not so subtle awareness continued when Romain brought out another special guest – a 10-year-old girl named Teshae Silvera, to sing one of his unreleased songs. The people should be taking care of the younger ones, Romaine called out, “this is a message for you and all I want you to do is listen, this is so powerful.” Teshae begun to sing quietly, Romain demanded attention and the people quieted down to give room to this young singer to showcase her voice and share the powerful message of child abuse. As one would expect, this performance brought tears to some people’s faces. Romain sang solo through the rest of his set ending with an a cappella when his time got cut short to catch up on earlier delays.

Second to last performance of the weekend was another dancehall romantic Christopher Martin. Starting with his top tracks “I’m a big deal” and “Paper loving” Christopher quickly warmed up the tiring crowd. Pacing the stage with subtly seductive dance moves (particularly for “Magic”), getting the crowd to take part by singing along and swaying their arms left to right. “Sexy ladies make some noise” Martin called out. “Ladies I gotta talk to you,” he continued after a brief pause: “The views of Christopher Martin aren’t necessarily the views of every man in here” quick disclaimer followed by him speaking out the first few lines of “Bun fi bun” as the audience laughed and cheered. Right after he, naturally, brought out Romain Virgo, the two are friends and support each other on tours sometimes, we’ve learned during an interview a few days earlier. Sadly, Christopher’s set too had to be cut early. Leaving the audience without a proper set conclusion he left giving room to the stage staff swapping out band equipment.

Buju Banton was the final act for the night and the one people we’re most anxious to see. Trying to make my way back into the photo pit at this point begun to look like an impossible feat as people stormed the tiny entrance. Just behind the fence from this restless crowd, standing at the foot of the stage steps is Buju himself, calm, chatting with some people, ready to go, like a champion ‘Ram pa pa pam pam’. A small group of large men somehow managed to part the lineup to allow Beenie Man come through to the front of the stage to watch the show.

This was Buju’s second pubic performance since his release from prison in March. The nearly 8-year break had no impact on the artist’s stage presence or size of audience. Buju’s 10-piece Shiloh band was just big enough to match the excitement of the audience while Buju himself was energetically bouncing around the stage barefoot, in a plaid vest and trousers combo. His 90 minute set took us into the next day effortlessly with some anthemic tunes.

There have been reports that Buju’s Long Walk to Freedom Concert is the one that will never be beat, having not lived through that one I can’t compare but it’s safe to say this Sumfest set was an unforgettable one.

At this point it was Sunday. It felt like we have lived a full two days of reggae uninterrupted and aside from a little sweat and dust there isn’t much to be mad about. Leaving the festival grounds in high energy, holding on to our chairs, shoes, and water bottles we were all inevitably beginning to count down the days to Sumfest 2020.

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MoBay Airbnb Hosts Rake In $36m From Sumfest

Published:Saturday | August 3, 2019 | Carlene Davis/Gleaner Writer

As tourists and locals descended upon the Second City in droves last month for the week-long Reggae Sumfest, several small players in the local accommodations sector cashed in offering weary patrons a place to rest their heads.

Those who did bookings through the online service Airbnb received an estimated windfall of $36 million.

With more than 1,800 guest arrivals, Airbnb hosts benefited from a significant increase in bookings for the festival weekend on July 19 and 20, with the likes of reggae superstars Buju Banton, Beres Hammond and Chronixx gracing the stage.

The largest demographic of guests was the 30 to 39 years old category, with an average group size of three persons per booking, staying approximately three nights. Most originated from Kingston, Florida, and New York.

Looking ahead, Airbnb said that it is steadily working to drive tourism in the region and to grow economic opportunity by promoting authentic travel in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.

“The home-sharing community in Jamaica continues to thrive as a growing component of the local tourism industry.

“Local hosts are increasingly opening their doors to offer foreigners and locals alike a diverse, inclusive and sustainable travel experience in urban destinations as well as rural areas. This is yet another example of how Airbnb is able to help cities by adding capacity during large events and helping boost tourism,” said Carlos Munoz, Airbnb’s campaign manager, public policy and communications for the Caribbean and Central America.

Havanah Llewellyn, president of the Jamaica Homesharing Association, the body set up by Airbnb to improve the island’s offering to the sector, said he was excited to see the continued growth as no rooms were left empty in Montego Bay over the concert weekend.

“We are extremely excited when we see those numbers coming in, just like when we had Buju in Kingston that was great for us as well. So to see these festivals that are happening, the partnerships with Sumfest and the Government and Airbnb, that is what is going to bring continued growth to the country,” Llewellyn said. “It’s great for the country because all of this is going right back into the economy. With the hotels being full, where would those other guests go? So now we are able to pick up some of that slack and that then spills over into the restaurants and the taxi drivers.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb uniquely leverages technology to economically empower millions of people around the world to unlock and monetise their spaces, passions and talents to become hospitality entrepreneurs. Airbnb’s accommodation marketplace provides access to more than six million unique places to stay in nearly 100,000 cities and 191 countries.

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Style & Vibes Podcast Ep 33: Reggae Sumfest Recap

Executive Produced by Kerry-Ann Reid-Brown of Breadfruit Media

iTunes (Apple Podcast) | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher

Reggae Sumfest 2019 was pure fire! There was so much to unpack from Jamaica’s premier reggae and dancehall stage festival of the summer; from the brand marketing, production and of course the performances. In this episode executive product Kerry-Ann and I breakdown all of the moments that made Reggae Sumfest a hit in 2019 so you can make sure you don’t miss 2020!

Check out the live stream Night 1 | Night 2

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PM Hails Successful Reggae Sumfest
ENTERTAINMENT
JULY 23, 2019
Story Highlights
  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the successful staging of Reggae Sumfest 2019 is a powerful endorsement of Jamaica’s rich musical history.
  • Speaking to JIS News at the show’s final night on Saturday (July 20), Mr. Holness said he was very impressed with the huge turnout of both local and international patrons.
  • “This is the biggest Sumfest ever. Just looking back at Reggae Sumfest [shows] that I have attended… even dating back to Reggae Sunsplash… I have never seen this level of crowd… and the atmosphere is also great…,” he said.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the successful staging of Reggae Sumfest 2019 is a powerful endorsement of Jamaica’s rich musical history.
Speaking to JIS News at the show’s final night on Saturday (July 20), Mr. Holness said he was very impressed with the huge turnout of both local and international patrons.
“This is the biggest Sumfest ever. Just looking back at Reggae Sumfest [shows] that I have attended… even dating back to Reggae Sunsplash… I have never seen this level of crowd… and the atmosphere is also great…,” he said.
“And when you are getting the views and the statistics from what is being live-streamed and broadcast on other media it is clear that this music festival, celebrating reggae, has been taken to another level,” he added.
Mr. Holness praised the event’s promoter, Businessman Joe Bogdanovich, noting that he “has taken the time to understand the product… to invest in the product… to be patient with the product” and is now reaping the benefits.
“His investment… has paid off. I think from here on it can only get bigger,” he said.
He noted that the performers used the platform given to them “to send a very powerful message about Jamaica’s art and culture”, noting that not a single international act was used to boost the appeal of the event.
The Prime Minister said that the success of Reggae Sumfest reinforces the fact that music continues to be an important value-added component of the tourism sector.
“When people come to our country they travel to gain an experience, and it is the interaction of the natural environment… the built environment… and the culture that gives that distinct experience. If the experience is good, they will want to come back again and again, and that is what we want to create. This festival is a very good example of the experience of our culture,” he pointed out.
For his part, Director of Tourism, Donovan White, said Reggae Sumfest 2019 has exceeded all expectations and painted Jamaica “in a very good light”.
“It has been an amazing experience, the performances, the production, the execution, the quality, the ability to pull Jamaicans out to enjoy Jamaican performers has been just unbelievable,” he beamed.
“I don’t believe we have ever had a Sumfest of this magnitude as it relates to patrons…,” he told JIS News.
Mr. White said the event’s success has now positioned Jamaica to build on the narrative of being the entertainment destination of the Caribbean, adding that it also provides an opportunity for “us to put on 21 days of constant and consistent events that cannot be found anywhere else in the region”.
“We believe, from early estimates, that the impact of Sumfest this year is no less than a billion dollars in Montego Bay’s economy,” Mr. White said.
“We have seen about 10,000 visitors coming in [over] just a week for Reggae Sumfest,” he added.
Reggae Sumfest was held from July 14 to 20 in Montego Bay, and was highlighted by a two-night stage show on July 19 and 20 at the Catherine Hall complex.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) was a major sponsor of the event.
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Reggae Sumfest Generates $1 Billion Jamaican Dollars for the Montego Bay Area & Country!
Jul 25, 2019  Latest Reggae News

The Team at Downsound Entertainment achieved their goals with making Reggae Sumfest a hugely attended international event! Anyone who wasn’t taking Reggae music & musicians seriously before – take note – the entire island has financially benefited from the Caribbean’s largest Reggae Festival that took place July 14-20, 2019. Several news channels has reported this figure, which was originally projected to be around $12 Million USD, it’s now closer to $75 Million USD. The hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers and businesses around Mobay were lively with an enthusiastic crowd and the 5 Pre-Events before Festival Nights 1 & 2 helped keep everyone in an irie mood for the entire week.

As evident from the overhead drone shots, the festival was packed with locals and the 10,000+ that flew in specifically for Sumfest 2019. Downsound Entertainment also provided free live-streaming on their Youtube Channel and DSE TV for the entire shows on Friday & Saturday night. The Livestreams were also highly attended with over 10K international viewers all joining in on the good vibes and stellar performances.

If you missed it or want to watch again all of the performances are on their channel HERE https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHWqekyGOTkdu8IlcapvJSw/videos

For more news on Reggae Sumfest visit: https://reggaesumfest.com/

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