varied, successful Sting 2012
Ninja Man officially passes clash title to Kiprich
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
While Sting 2012 was built heavily around the clashes, the impending lyrical tag team involving Ninja Man, Kiprich, Merciless and Matterhorn promoted on the large stage screens throughout the over 10-hour marathon concert, the large audience (the biggest since the 2008 Mavado/Kartel clash) appreciated some amount of musical diversity.
So, in the wee hours of the morning, the tag team of George Nooks and Errol Dunkley went over very well with the same audience that rolled at raucous deejay jibes, Dunkley's You're Gonna Need Me and Nooks' God is Standing By scoring especially well. Similarly, the predominantly roots reggae offerings of Romain Virgo and Etana in what were, for the crammed Sting line-up, somewhat extended sets, went over very well, Virgo closing with a surprise, effective delivery of Adele's Don't You Remember.
Another standout was Chronixx in a section of four young Rastafarians on the trot. First of the quartet, which included Droop Lion, Jah Sent and Iba Mahr, Chronixx slowed down his material to deliver effectively, interspersing patter into Odd Ras to very good effect, although his voice has much to gain in terms of strength.
Much of the rest was the expected deluge of dancehall in all its unfettered glory, although on a night where the genuine enthusiastic crowd response was often hard to discern as there were fireworks placed strategically for particular artistes. Busy Signal's triumphant, near 50-minute return performance was somewhat predictable in its content, from the opening pledge to "nah go a jail again" through to tales of his prison experience (which slowed down his set eventually before it picked up as he turned to the ladies) to the closing praises of El Shaddai. There was no mistaking, however, the Busy one's passion as he blessed all from KD Knight to the audience and even the USA, proclaiming himself God-blessed in the process. His billed 12:45 a.m. showing did not take place until almost three hours after. Downsounds Records head Joe Bogdanovich presented Busy with a Game Changer Award after his performance.
In another extended solo set, but much later in the morning, Sizzla was in fiery, unapologetic, towering dancehall form, his language and voice strong as he dropped unexpected additional lyrics into familiar material. Holding Firm, Simplicity and Good Ways were among the reggae rockers that took the house down; Get to the Point and Karate roiled up the dancehall massive, Sizzla vehemently dismissing any notions of dancehall sponsorship from the homosexual community.
Tommy Lee played it safe
Tommy Lee was heavily touted and played it safe to go over very well, sticking within his vocal limits and putting salve on any dancehall wounds by honouring Bounty Killer among his elders, even as he did his Mechanic track. He snarled as 'Uncle Demon' and intoned his allegiance to the Gaza and incarcerated Vybz Kartel repeatedly.
Aidonia bustled his burly voice through a set that included Run Road ; Chuck Fendah and Khago were on the fiery side; Stacious slithered her very healthy body into the mix as she insisted on finishing a 'talk' lyric; I-Wayne and Lutan Fyah cooled the clash atmosphere when it threatened to go overboard, even as they blazed fire on sexual impurity. Specialist came on for a combination song which staved off dismissive handclaps for Ishawna and Lady G showed her class, dismissing Macka Diamond as someone she had already killed as Lady Mackerel.
But it was the clashes which took the night, Flava Unit's Badda Bling picking a brief sound system war he lost clearly to Foota Hype, who dismissed the younger selector as someone who never won even a school fight. That was unplanned and so, it seemed, was Black Ryno's attempted stage invasion when Popcaan (who proclaimed his extreme loyalty to Kartel) was hardly into his set. Ryno was dismissed physically and, after a snatch of song, Popcaan was off too, a missile tossed at the stage preceding his exit.
Spice dismissed an attempted stand-in challenger for Macka Diamond, whom Spice compared to a literal donkey.
The clash of the night was a one-sided affair, even as Kiprich asked Ninja Man to stay out of the ring on the stage and took on Merciless and Matterhorn himself, annihilating them completely, even though Matterhorn pressed on to the very end. The icing on the cake was the Ninja's lyrical test of his successor Kiprich before handing him the belt, Ninja's responses clearly a cut or two above Kiprich's calibre at this stage of their careers.
Sponsor Downsound Records stamped its mark on Sting in no uncertain way, Flippa Mafia splashed liquor, changed his shoes and tossed out greenbacks, there was a single stampede (which Ninja worked into his lyrics), and a marathon with its expected lulls, but largely successful, ended at close to 8 a.m. yesterday.