Adrian Frater, News Editor
With no lingering feuds, Thursday night's Dancehall Night segment of Reggae Sumfest 2010 at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre, in Montego Bay, was a rather mild affair, as the stinging and oftentimes contentious lyrics of former years was replaced by much more sober offerings.
In fact, the highlight of the night was probably the special award presented to a rather mellow Bounty Killer, who was specially recognised for his contribution to Jamaica's music and the unselfish manner in which he has allowed other artistes, who subsequently became stars, to flourish under his watch.
In his performance, which came prior to him receiving the award, Bounty Killer openly discussed his recent troubles, which included being jailed and losing his United States visa.
Fight against poverty
The veteran DJ also used the opportunity to call on the government to show some urgency in the fight against poverty, especially in the wake of the recent state of emergency and the displacement of high-profile dons.
Outside of his social commentary, which included a tongue lashing of 'shottas', whom he labelled, "wasted sperm" and "society's germs", Bounty Killer also demonstrated his lyrical sharpness, exciting the crowd with songs like, Bad Man a Bad Man, Just Mek a Duppy, Can't Believe Me Eye, Poor People Fed Up, Riding West and This Is How We Do It, in combination with Elephant Man.
The night's major drawing card, controversial deejay Vybz Kartel, who closed the show, created quite a buzz when, with the recorded newscast of his recent arrest blaring through the massive speakers, he was led to centre-stage in handcuffs, clad in a US-style orange prison jump suit.
With blasting firecrackers greeting his entrance, Kartel went straight into lyrical overdrive as soon as the handcuffs were removed. He soon had the fans in frenzy, belting out songs such as, Out a Road Again, Idler, Shotta Zone, Bicycle, Virginity and Romping Shop.
However, with the morning sun out in its glory, fans steadily began to drift towards the exits with Kartel in the peak of his performance.
Mavado, like Bounty Killer, played a most composed set, steering clear of any contentious lyrics. In fact, he was a picture of maturity as he delivered songs such as, Me de Gal Dem a Mad Over, Pon The House Top and the suggestive Come Into My Room, which was expertly delivered in combination with Stacious.
Mavado's well-deserved encore
Mavado, who also went the social commentary route, called on politicians to pay greater attention to the needs of the people, and was called back for a well-deserved encore.
In between heaping praise on Bounty Killer for helping to advance his career, Mavado again rocked the crowd with offerings such as, Real McKoy, Hope and Pray and Messing with My Heart, done in combination with Wayne Marshall.
In terms of real dancehall offering, the female entourage, which included Spice, Cecil, Stacious, D'Angel and Tifa, stood extremely tall, demonstrating genuine star power, as they dished out rich dancehall material, much to the delight of the appreciative fans.
Spice was particularly sharp. After announcing her presence in a song entitled, Bruce Me Wah Hold You, which was directed at Prime Minister Bruce Golding, she kept the tempo bubbling with, Rampin Shop, Daggering, Fight Over Man and Slim vs Fluffy, which featured Pamputae and several dancers including radio personality Ms Kitty.
Singers Khago, I-Octane and Bescenta ably represented the conscious side of the dancehall, demonstrating that they have the lyrical capacity and stagecraft to take the international scene by storm. Khago was impressive, dazzling with songs such as, Can't Cool, Longing to Touch You and Daddy.
Taz, Chino, Konshens and Canada-based singjay King Ujah all served up quite pleasing sets, and showed themselves worthy of being dubbed the next generation of stars.
Among the seasoned campaigners, Assassin again served notice that he was ready to become Jamaica's next big international act.
Of the other artistes who were on show, Elephant Man, Aidonia, Kiprich, the two surviving members of Voicemail, Charley Blacks, Ikaya and Ding Dong all played a pivotal role in keeping the fans, who braved the somewhat muddy conditions, to spend the entire night at the venue.