Taste of Jamaica at Dubai’s Sole DXB festival
Last weekend, Sheldon ‘Sheppie’ Shepherd and Everaldo ‘Evie’ Creary of The No-Maddz formed part of the Jamaican team that represented at Dubai’s Sole DXB, the juggernaut celebration of the very best in music, art and lifestyle, and footwear – specifically sneakers. For the duo, their debut trip to Dubai was overwhelming.
“Dubai is super clean, super strict, and yuh juss smell di money. Is like a money dump. The immigration people asked us if we had any ganja, and although we told them ‘no’, they searched us thoroughly because they have a zero tolerance for drugs,” Shepherd told The Gleaner. “But it was all good.”
Sole DXB, which first came to Dubai in 2011, is a cultural festival that takes place annually in December and has reportedly proven to be a massive hit among Dubai’s urban crowd. Staged December 5-7 at Dubai’s Design District, this year’s theme was centred around Jamaica and “embraced the Caribbean vibes with exceptional art, music, food, and style”. According to the festival’s website, Sole DXB showed a customised adidas Originals capsule collection that celebrated the Jamaican theme of this year’s festival. “Classic adidas Originals tracksuits and T-shirts will pay homage to the rich and diverse culture of the island, taking inspiration from the colours, destinations, and people that the Sole DXB team met during their trip to the Caribbean melting pot earlier this year. Highlights include a blue tracksuit top adorned with the words ‘Negril, Jamaica’ in iconic Jamaican yellow on the back above a custom adidas Originals trefoil logo in the classic green, yellow, and red of the island.”
Shepherd told The Gleaner: “The promoters turned the place into Jamaica. You felt the Jamaican energy in the United Arab Emirates. There was a Nyam and Jam section at which Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry performed, and they even had patties that tasted just like Tastee patties.”
High on the list of things Jamaican worthy of celebration was the sound-system culture, and a huge sound with multiple boxes was one of the centrepieces of the event. The promoters noted online that the Jamaican sound system “is the most influential force in contemporary popular music today, so we went to Jamaica to find out how an island nation of 2.8 million has continued to punch far above its weight for over 60 years”.
“The sound system itself was actually built in Jamaica and shipped to Dubai,” Shepherd explained. “The promoters were so determined to ensure that the thing was authentic that they went to those lengths. They came here and did their research and went back to Dubai and executed. It was massive.”
The No-Maddz, through the dub-poetry aspect of their catalogue, represented in a talk space set aside for creatives in which there was a moderator and an audience of between 100 and 150. “Dr Stanley Niaah moderated at our gathering, and it went over extremely well,” Shepherd said, adding that The No-Maddz were actually a last-minute addition to the festival so they didn’t get a chance to perform a full set.
Other Jamaicans representing at this year’s event were Protoje, presented by Fred Perry; Lila Iké and Sevana, presented by Puma; Koffee; Gabre Selassie and Uncle Ronnie from Kingston Dub Club; Chromatic Live; Carleene Samuels; and Jahlani Niaah.