Dancehall and soca converge for Rebellion Band launch
Although given the title of King of the Dancehall, Beenie Man's versatility as an entertainer has afforded him the privilege of being added to various carnivals across the Caribbean. The featured entertainer for the launch of One World Rebellion's band launch last Saturday on Park Close in New Kingston, organiser Ian 'Bunji Garlin' Alvarez, says that it is always an exciting show when he gets together with Beenie Man.
"Beenie Man and I have performed together over the years, and each time we get together on stage, or on a truck during carnival, we spend up to two hours just performing or freestyling," Bunji Garlin told The Gleaner.
Both Bunji Garlin and his wife and business-partner, Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez, have collaborated with the entertainer over the years, a relationship that has developed into a genuine friendship that resulted in the creation of hits like Plenty Gyal (Bunji Garlin and Beenie Man) and Wine Fast (Fay-Ann Lyons and Beenie Man) for Trinidad Carnival in 2009. Beenie Man and Bunji Garlin also teamed up on Carnival Is Our Life, featuring Trevor Off Key. Apart from the husband and wife duo, The King has performed with a wide range of soca artistes, including Machel Montano, Destra Garcia and Kerwin Du Bois.
So it was no surprise that Beenie Man was the high point of the Rebellion Band launch. Before he took to the stage, the clock striking midnight signalled the colourful display of what the Trinidadian couple was bringing to Jamaica Carnival 2019. Models, including recording artiste Kim Nain and dancer Tara Price, were part of the collective that danced across the stage showing off the designs inspired by African and Indian tribes. The band will be the smallest on the road next year, having only six main sections : Breffu, Valkyrie, Bois, Thracian, Versailles and Iroquois they stood out with their large, colourful mohawk head piece that replaced the usual backpack design.
Finally, VH1's Love and Hip Hop star, Amara La Negra, ended the showcase to welcome the live performance. Beenie Man performed some of his hits and then was challenged by the soca monarchs to freestyle on the Big Bad Soca rhythm.
Despite a few technical difficulties with the microphones, the Who Am I deejay gladly accepted the challenge, and by the sounds of the cheers coming from the park, it was obvious that the crowd approved.
He told The Gleaner that he continues to support carnival and promote soca music because "It is CARICOM. It is all about the community and integration, and me welcome the idea of doing soca because it is me and you. It is the people one Caribbean movement."
He continued, "As an entertainer, me have to continue promote it (soca) because the same people promote our music although 90 per cent of the time it is dancehall. When is carnival time, it is soca music plus what it stands for."
He said that the music represents togetherness and like most rebellions that have contributed to groundbreaking and historical events, he said, "The band brings the people together for a purpose. I like that, and I like all the costumes, the energy. Everything about this Rebellion is good. It is a good look."