Sting 2014 stung!
Gunshots, bottle war, physical and lyrical clashes and a successful Gully Bop debut.
Clashes, lyrical and physical; gunfire and a mad rush for safety by scores of patrons interspersed with strong performances and a hit debut by overnight recording sensation, Gully Bop, all combined to make what was the 2014 staging of Magnum Sting stage show at Jamworld Entertainment Complex in Portmore, St Catherine, last Friday.
A backstage confrontation reportedly involving members of the entourages of recording artistes Demarco and Masicka was the first clear sign of the trouble which seemed to be brewing all night.
Persons had to run for cover as bottles were hurled during the face-off. Explosions, believed to be gunfire, were heard, but up to late yesterday there was no word from the police as to what had transpired.
"I really want to apologise to the fans, especially anyone who got injured, because this is my first big moment at Sting, and it shouldn't have ended up like that," said Masicka.
"There is no personal animosity between Demarco and me, it is just that things got out of hand with our entourages, and the situation got out of control. I was not the aggressor.
"I was backstage when Demarco walked over to me and asked me 'wah yu a deal wid?' Mi ansa that ah music mi a deal wid, and say why yu neva come up on the stage and face me that time then, why now?' Anyway, mi and him reason and we seal it up with a lion paw.
"Mi see him dawg dem come back and start circle mi car. Then Demarco forward again, but everybody tense, and then mi see a knife draw, people start tussle, fist a throw, and then two shots were fired, and everybody scatter, stampede gwaan and dem ting deh ... mi just defend myself because mi a street yute," added Masicka.
After that melee, so disappointed were the patrons and even some of the other artistes that Tommy Lee Sparta and Gage decided to cancel their highly anticipated clash and called for peace.
Both acts embraced onstage and performed songs from their budding catalogues, in an attempt to show their supporters and critics that recording artistes possess the ability to co-exist without animosity.
The show continued with patrons anxious for the expected rematch between dancehall star Blak Ryno and the man he defeated lyrically last year, KipRich.
Another bottle-throwing incident early into Ryno's performance led to another stampede as patrons dashed for cover with some persons in the VIP area and the media section, including The Gleaner's photographer, being caught up in the crush.
Last year, KipRich, who had been crowned the Clash King of Sting, was upset by Blak Ryno during a clash for a $3-million cash prize. This year, the eagerly anticipated rematch came to a premature end after a shoving incident between the two onstage.
With lyrical clash over, the physical clash was to continue backstage with at least one person suffering a gash to the head after reportedly being hit with a bottle.
In a statement late yesterday, KipRich called for peace.
"I am urging my fans not to retaliate in any manner because this is now a police matter. One man has already been detained in connection with the incident."
According to KipRich, after the clash came to a premature end, a member of his entourage wearing a shirt with his image was attacked by a group of men. The man was kicked several times and a bottle was used to hit him in the head.
"I am disappointed that it has come to this, but things got a bit overheated onstage and the clash was not resolved, so I guess the fans were a bit too overenthusiastic, but we are urging everybody to just cool down," said KipRich.
Outside of the clashes, artistes such as Kabaka Pyramid, Droop Lion, Iba MaHr and Tarrus Riley delivered strong sets of reggae music staying clear of controversy, except for Kabaka Pyramid when he performed his song Lock Dung D Place, in which he lashed out against artistes who are promoting immorality through their music.
Gully Bop, who has only three officially recorded songs to his credit, hit the stage at 7 o'clock on Saturday morning and hardly showed any weakness.
Introduced as the fastest-rising recording artiste in the history of Jamaican music, Gully Bop, dressed in red and white, used quirky freestyles and controversy to hold the aggressive audience for more than 15 minutes, during which he received several encores.
While delivering his lyrics in similar fashion to his mentor-turned-rival Ninja Man, Gully Bop had the audience at his mercy as he belted freestyle after freestyle.
Sting has developed a reputation for being an event where creative individuals use music to express their grouses with other artistes, and despite having only a two-month career, Gully Bop seemed to fit in just fine with the other dancehall acts as he extended musical challenges to Black Ryno, Ninja Man and Alkaline.
None accepted his challenge.
However, the audience made a feast of Gully Bop's lyrical attack on some of Jamaica's most celebrated musical acts.
"It was a nice experience performing at Sting. Ninja Man run and Black Ryno love run up onstage but him never try that with me because him afraid. The people dem love me, and for 2015 Gully Bop career will stand tall. Mi have nuff nice songs and mi nah talk about slackness, mi a talk clean music. A true some a dem song here a dem mi buss wid mi a gwaan do them," he said.