Money Money Money!
Money O!? Really? If in name and name only there is something amiss about this Sting clash between Macka Diamond and Lady Saw. Where Lady Saw was clear from her tweets that the “first set” should not be missed (implying that there would be a second appearance to vie for the prized US$30,000), Ms. Money O did not live up to her name at all. She neither fought well nor for the money. The real regret therefore is that Miss Money O did not ‘negotiate’ her lyrical death with impeccable timing. Instead she has apparently laid blame at everything from the backing band to various elements of the production for her lyrical failure. All the same, it is not easy to step up to Lady Saw, a veteran lyricist, performer and stage aficionado, and the Money Queen made history at Jamworld. Talk about haunting words of the bad omen type, Macka’s failure to bring it at Sting 30 was summed up in @PKisses4u’s tweet “RIP MACKA DIAMOND YOUR CAREER IS #DYEDYE”.
Let me get back to the politics of Saw not being paid. It is interesting that complete role reversal took place at Sting with the Macka / Saw clash. What is striking is that whereas in sex, transactional or not, the prize is usually left with the woman either in the form of cash paid for services rendered or a baby as the product for example, this time the females got no prize / money for their generally undervalued oratory and spice in a context where the males dominate and females provide the garnish to the enterprise in their dance and of course music. This must change, and I appeal to the Sting promoters to pay Lady Saw. She did much more for the event than the Kiprich / Black Rhyno clash.
D’Angel, D’Angel, D’Angel
I couldn’t complete a review on Sting 30 without saying anything about the recurring decimal of D’Angel, who much like L.A.Lewis, became insistent about her role and place in dancehall. She was not billed to appear at Sting 30 but obviously thought she needed to make her presence felt and forever archived.
The commentary has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. Some have used the D’Angel interventions as cause to question the Jamaica Tourist Board’s long overdue sponsorship of entertainment events such as Sting.
“The JTB must take some responsibility for D’Angle (sic) or…whatever her name is’s (sic) conduct. Her conduct or lack of self control is the very reason why JTB should put some control, guidelines, screening etc. on who they allow to perform…for God’s sake….”
is how Heather Chisolm puts it in response to Silvera’s post on the disgrace of D’Angel entering unannounced, the sets of Ninja Man and husband Beenie Man from whom she has been allegedly separated. What was disgraceful is that she, like Macka Diamond and Lady Saw, were under the impression that they were eligible to contest the prize money at the times they were billed. D’Angel of course was not billed but announced she was there for a clash and wanted the money on offer to pay her son’s school fees due in January. Let’s not even think about whether she is getting child support from her husband, let’s think instead about how the females were taken for granted and not given the chance to rise to the occasion at a major clash. Why did Spice not return for example to finish the clash with Macka Diamond, perhaps in a ‘three the hard way’ scene with Lady Saw? Why did the females not get a significant place in the event and why were they not encouraged to enter the stage at the deadly 5:30am? Surely Lady Saw and Macka Diamond along with Spice and even the eager D’Angel could have handled the stage at 5:00am in a formidable clash. Why is it that the female artists are constantly having to battle that much harder for a space in this business? These answers are not clear to me and at the end of the day its all staged, but I will not be led into assuming that a solid show of the females was not deemed worthy of the pay per view bargain.
Kiprich and Black Rhyno
Could Kiprich retain the crown, and walk out with US$30,000? Ninja Man, the clash godfather brought the loot up for grabs on stage and Kiprich arrived in gear that at first seemed to be from a distant under-explored past. Kiprich’s gear was a sort of cross between desert seal / combat camouflage and Jonkonnu character pitchy patchy, linked to Egungun masquerades of West Africa. This was a highlight of the event, and perhaps within its very use, was a bit of irreverence. What came to mind is that understood or not, such symbols are critical and without performing important rituals of preparation, arrival and combat, maybe, just maybe, Kiprich took his role and mas a little too lightly and this may have led to his lyrical death. I thought the very same thing about using cocks in a fight spilling blood around Kingston without any reverence, a practice of Bogle’s prior to his death.
By the 3rd minute of the clash Kippo was stunned and had no lyrical foot to stand on. Quite frankly, though the clash lasted some 13 minutes, I was underwhelmed and moved right along to make my exit from the venue.
Overall Show Quality?
The clash-anticipating audience was now primed and prepared for lyrical battles of extraordinary proportion, but the shocking defeat by Black Rhyno left the crowd wondering why the Sting was so mild and no other artists of significance came forth to challenge Black Rhyno’s new found fortune. One could not help thinking that the pay per view imperatives of time, temperance and overall good decorum watered down the clash just a little, but even more, that the clash was way too staged and that the Supreme organizers knew the outcome. Most importantly the structure of the overall show once again did not achieve the orgasmic crescendo proportions I have been looking for since the Vybz Kartel / Mavado clash at Sting 2008. This crescendo can be achieved in a variety of ways and a show such as Sting needed to have mastered this by now at 30! As I wrote of Sting 2012, the year they got the release of Busy Signal from a brief incarceration, a serendipitous show cancellation for Konshens, and Jamaica 50 on a platter, the quality of different acts did not guarantee quality of the overall show. And, since quality acts do not a quality show make, more emphasis has to be placed on the running order of the show.
One tremendous positive of the show was that the veteran stage management by ‘Heavy D’ and the team was enough to control the likes of Macka and Lady Saw in the wee obituary-creating hours of Friday morning. Big tree or not, Lady Saw was the fired up small axe waiting to cut Macka down in fine style. As Ms. Money O ‘Dyed Dyed’, there was tremendous rage and tempers went through the roof making the clash completely volatile.
Additionally, emcees Richie B, Nikki Z, Nuffy and Miss Kitty for example were in top form as they ushered the show to the long awaited clashes. There were also no reported incidents of violence or physical damage.
Long live the Sting. I bet the promoters are proverbially laughing all the way to the bank, or let me say I hope so in these tough financial times. Afterall, it was a game changer for the dancehall promoters to utilize the available technology in promoting broad based viewership for a quintessential Jamaican product containing all the elements of dancehall culture from then till now.
As I tell my students continuously it is the lack of knowledge and respect for Jamaican culture which explains our angst over Jamaica’s entertainment product and culture. This is coupled with the overwhelming moralistic censorship stance we take in relation to cultural manifestations such as dancehall. There are definitely aspects of our culture which requires rethinking but that is a collective process which will not be advanced without respect. We must proceed on the basis of respect even as we critique ourselves. Productive engagement has to be on the basis also of understanding and knowledge. The people who create and perpetuate Jamaican popular cultural manifestations such as dancehall operate with an intrinsic understanding that they too want to achieve the universal imperative – bloom, bear fruit, be beautiful and be seen to be beautiful’.
Oh, while Dutty Paul was spotted at the Sting venue enjoying the show being given by some of his most admired dancehall acts, I’d love to see him next year on stage making a serious step in re-connecting with his Jamaican supporters. Selah.