There are various ways in which reggae and its sister genre dancehall have played significant roles in advancing the human race. With originary scripts solidly vibrating around liberation, human rights and revolutionary impulses, reggae’s reach into charity and social movements of various kinds is known. Beyond Marley’s contribution to the articulation and achievement of liberation in Zimbabwe, and Peter Tosh’s war against Apartheid, if you can’t imagine what I mean then the event ‘Reggae For Climate Protection‘ which has been staged in New York, USA since 2011 is perhaps one of the best modern examples I’ve come across.
“Inspired by an appreciation for our environment, Reggae for Climate Protection was created by Leslie Pieters to bring together risk takers, melody makers, earth rakers and policy makers… Reggae for Climate Protection celebrates our environment, our society, and brings people together to understand the relevance of our carbon footprint and its impact on the world around us.”
The evidence suggests reggae has done more for human rights, various freedoms, social, environmental and spiritual consciousness outside Jamaican shores. But, who can objectively qualify / quantify the effect / affect on inspiration, spiritual fortitude and revolutionary impetus bequeathed to local creators, perpetuators and consumers?
Enter ‘Shaggy and Friends’
The January 4 event which is being reported as a tremendous success (side note: there are some who were disappointed) by one of its sponsors drew attention from scores with its star-studded musical cast headlined by The Voice champion Tessanne Chin who received a heroine’s welcome on her December 20 return home.
The Grammy-winning, Platinum-selling celeb Shaggy, established the Make A Difference Foundation which is invested in raising money for the Bustamante Children’s Hospital (the only one of its kind in the Caribbean), a focus of which is the new Cardiac Ward. The final figures on the level of support received are unavailable but organisers are hoping to top the successes of 2012 (US$370,000 or $32 million), 2011 ($27 million) and 2010 ($30 million). Concerns over the amount of complimentary tickets given away was a sore point which earned mention by many performers. It is estimated that some $15m in complimentary tickets was lost to the charity effort. All indications are the event was a huge success and the number of patrons present far exceeded what I remember seeing at the first event I attended in 2009. So with the slogan ‘1 ticket = 1 life’ in hand, children for generations to come will be beneficiaries of the worthy ‘reggae for a cause’ initiative.
Shaggy and His Friends on Show
So what did the show bring and why were some present and viewing at home feeling short-changed? Beginning with national anthem, drumming and prayer at the dot of 8pm, we were spared no time in getting the ball a rolling as Shaggy took his hits to the stage. Then came Pinchers, Admiral Bailey, and Admiral Tibet who enticed us with foundation dancehall hits such as ‘Della Move’, ‘Bandelero’, ‘Serious Time’ and ‘Leave People Business Alone’.
Admiral Tibet Leave People Business Alone
Carlene Davis paid a timely tribute to ‘Winnie Mandela’ along with her well loved selections of ‘Going Down to Paradise’, and the timeless Abba original ‘The Way Old Friends Do’.
Abba -The Way Old Friends Do
Then it was time for the Mighty Diamonds who did not disappoint. Patrons were then treated to a session on the proverbial ‘bun’ with Christopher Martin who on the one hand asked God not to let his girlfriend catch him cheating, and Macka Diamond on the other, teaching the crowd how to cheat without being caught. Frankly speaking Macka who got the least love on that night was making a comeback from clash obscurity where she was sent after a dismal performance at Sting 2013. You can read my review of that event here.
Jump forward to Konshens who has been on my dancehall mind for some time. Oops.. I’m jumping the gun just a bit but what the hell… Did you see him? Catch the footage? Were you there?? Let me say up front that my night was made because of the three appearances by Konshens to which patrons were treated. He was dapper, mature, freshly titillating and tantalising in performances befitting the description – stellar showmanship. Yes indeed.
Let me get back to the line-up. Elephant Man’s energy is waning somewhat and his set seemed very much like the one he did in 2009. We were thrilled with dance hits including ‘Higher level’, Revival infused ‘Bad Mind’, and ‘Signal di plane’. The sell off moment came with the phone call he accepted from Buju Banton while segueing into Gargamel’s lines ‘…strange this feeling I’m feeling…’ from the Til Shiloh recording. The biggest forward came when he characteristically invited a child on stage to be taught the ‘signal di plane’ moves.
Comedic duo Ity and Fancy Cat came to do the ‘moonwalk’ and its cousin ‘one drop’, along with a hilarious telephone call from the PM congratulating Tessanne as she was being questioned about the controversial ‘frequent flyer’ status while ‘werking werking werking’. Naturally this caused an uproar of vigorous laughter that confirmed the duo’s well earned place at the apex of comedic innovations and industry in Jamaica. Joined by the shining star Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley we were treated to a report on his need to battle with a Sketel backstage whose concern was that Tessanne should have pursued the Duttyberry dubbed ‘Tessless’ one in the form of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, ‘the sexiest man alive’. Let’s just leave that one alone.
Wayne Marshall who brought his son to bring down the house while performing his single ‘Stupid Money’ thrilled the audience. Joined by Assassin on that recording, we were taken down impersonation lane when vocalising Junior Reid, Eddie Fitzroy, and Buju Banton’s interpretations on ‘Stupid Money’ made for a refreshing twist to the set. Marshall’s ‘Go Hard and Dun’ was the big hit though, performing again with Agent Sasco aka Assassin and joined by Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley whose welcome to Jamrock hit became the sound track of his set. Marley then exited the stage making way for Sasco to take it away with selections such as ‘Hand Inna Di Air’ and ‘Hand to Mouth’. I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed that set!
Kes out of Trinidad took the levels to Soca with the R n B twist around 11am when some nine acts including Konshens, Sean Paul, I Octane, Tarrus Riley and the Voice herself Tessanne Chin along with guest Matthew Schuler were still left to take the stage.
Riddim up to Konshens’ set. When Konshens hit the stage with the soulful ode to making a life for his daughter – ‘as long as she’s happy…long as mi baby have suppn’ – the voice that has thrilled Jamaicans at home and abroad since he blossomed on the scene with ‘Winner’ had touched down in fine style. Many females were then enticed with the challenge of living up to Konshens’ desire for a ‘gyal weh bad bad bad’ because ‘wi nuh like gyal weh soft and weak inna heart…wi nuh love gyal weh easy fi frighten’.
Konshens – Winner
Konshens – Bad Gal [Official HD Video]
The mega hit ‘Gyal a Bubble’ put patrons in a real party mood as Konshens asked ‘how da party yah look suh?’. It was all uphill from there with selections such as ‘Drink ‘n Rave’, ‘Couple Up’, ‘No Hesitation’ and ‘They Say’. Did I say the showmanship on display was off the chain? Memba mi told you.
International recording artiste Neyo who currently shares the track ‘You Girl’ with Shaggy on his ‘Out of Many, One Music’ (2013) album brought excellence to the stage with dance, harmonies and hit songs including ‘Let Me Love You’ and ‘Ms Independent’ ushering in what has now become the famous ‘rompin shop riddim’. He was then joined by Shaggy as they both delivered their recording ‘You Girl’. Shaggy was also joined by Rayvon to deliver their hit single ‘Angel’.
As MCs Ms. Kitty, Debbie Bissoon, Christopher Daley and David Annackie ushered the show to crescendo proportion we observed the love for patrons being displayed in many forms. Neyo threw his towel while Konshens threw his Jacket, Shaggy his cap and Matthew Schuler sparing no time in both showing love for Jamaica while asking the crowd to indulge him in a ‘selfie’ recording the audience cheering at his first international performance.
Time for ChinitaGoodaz! Afterall, this was her homecoming and stage to shine. Walking right off the backs of so-called ‘dutty Rastas’ such as Marley who paved the Jamaican music path through persecution and indignation giving way to One Love, Tessanne Chin came to the stage after the Dutty Berry introduction around 12:22am. With formidable composite of a band, backup singers, and stage visuals befitting a star, Tessanne spared no time (amidst sound challenges) in telling Jamaica ‘The Reason Is You’, ‘Underneath it All’. Dipping into ska dubs and rock grooves, and through a wardrobe change, we ended up in Tessanne’s secret but highly supported ‘Hideaway’ after ‘Redemption Song’, ‘Many Rivers to Cross’, and medley of her songs including ‘When I’m with you’, and ‘Messenger.’ If no one has told Tess yet, it is now time to rerelease ‘Hideaway’ and send it into the musical stratosphere where it belongs.
Introducing Matthew Schuler took the show to another level as he wowed the audience with charm and hits ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’, and ‘Hallelujah’ which brought a deeply spiritual, moving moment that elicited a hearty applause from the audience. He also gave the audience a surprise with the performance of Wayne Wonder’s ‘No Letting Go’ on the Party Rhythm to boot. Tessanne returned with ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and new single ‘Tumbling Down’ whose second verse was infused with her own reggae rock musical sensibilities. She ended her set with Whitney Houston’s ‘I have Nothing’ and the crowd was immensely pleased.
A compendium of Jamaica’s excellence in music, the stage was then cleared for Chronixx and his Zinc Fence Band which opened its set with what is easily a popular anthem in ‘Smile Jamaica’, followed by hits such as ‘They Don’t Know’, ‘Here Comes Trouble’, ‘Warrior’, and ‘Odd Ras’. Tarrus Riley brought his ‘Lion Paw’ confidence to the stage with characteristic showmanship exhorting the fact of good winning over evil every time, even seeking Higher powers to walk with him in ‘Never Leave I Jah Jah’ all the way through hits such as ‘Hurry Up’ (one of my personal favourites), ‘One Drop’, and ‘She’s Royal’. Tarrus and Konshens teamed up for the hit ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ with the brilliant segue into Robin Thicke’s ‘good girl’ from the mega hit ‘Blurred Lines’ being just as good my third time around experiencing it.
Grammy winning, platinum selling, Sean Paul’s return to the Jamaican stage at Shaggy and Friends was epic. The Badda Banz roared into action for the penultimate act of the night with hand clapping vibes for the first selection ‘Got to Love You’, making way for ‘Other Side of Love’, and with Junior Gong joining the indomitable Dutty P on stage for nothing short of a musical ‘Riot’.
Konshens’ third appearance for the night came as he joined Sean Paul for the snazzy single ‘Want Dem All’. ‘She Doesn’t Mind’,and ‘Temperature’ sealed the deal for a spectacular return to the hearts of Jamaicans, many standing in awe as they watched riddim, rhyme, moves, flow and energy.
Sean Paul made way for I Octane who once again closed a major show. ‘Everybody clean and straight’ had to ‘Buss a Blank’, and show ‘respect to all who sell bag juice’ (‘Suffer Too Long’), as well as the ever mentioned ‘Mama’. The catchy and honest ‘Gyal a Gimme Bun’, preceded ‘We Love the Vibes’, and ‘Happy Time’ (it’s an Holiday), all contributing to an overall winning performance by I Octane as patrons made their way out of the venue. The die hards stayed though, making it clear that some attended to soak up all the energy, talent and stardom on display.
I-Octane – “Gyal A Gimme Bun” (Official Video)
Show quality, harmonies, short, seamless and entertaining band changes with solid acts – well perhaps except Macka Diamond – was what many present and watching live via Facebook , CVM Television and The Gleaner got from the Shaggy and Friends show. Of course, the irony is that Shaggy and Friends is one of the things that’s good about Jamaica, but it took place in a venue that brings stark reminder of some of what’s frightfully challenging about Jamaica and it’s leadership which resides in the well decorated offices at Jamaica House. Quite frankly my only regret is that there were no police officers combing the grounds for those who insisted on smoking in public despite the newly introduced smoking ban.
There is no doubt that complaints about the packed line-up fade in comparison to positive comments about Shaggy and Friends. It was a superior production, and a fine example for many Jamaican events to follow. Spare no time in consuming this short video review of a well produced ‘reggae for a cause’ production.