A never-ending buzz of excitement - 2019 music year in review
When asked to coin a piece recapping some of the top entertainment stories for 2019, I have to admit, I was a little bit overwhelmed. After all, so much happened last year, it would be hard pinpointing those moments that were music’s most impactful (especially since I was given a strict word limit). Nevertheless, I sat at my computer ready to take on that gigantic task. Alas, after hours of running through the company’s online archives, my list was complete. From Buju Banton’s historic mega concert inside the National Stadium, to the first staging of the Red Bull Culture Clash on Jamaican soil to Koffee’s surge to the top of the reggae industry (all the way to a Grammy nomination), it’s safe to say the 2019 entertainment circuit was a never-ending buzz of excitement. So as we look forward to another eventful year in music, here’s to the year that was.
At the start of 2019, a feud between dancehall queen Spice and the then First Lady of dancehall, D’Angel captured headlines and lit up social media. For weeks, the pair was at loggerheads over their collaboration, No Worries. Adamant that the song was born out of D’Angel’s persistence that the two team up, Spice expressed regret at her decision to do the track. D’Angel insisted Spice was the one who sought out the collaboration and, out of her passion to push female unity in music, she agreed to the collaboration. The nasty showdown between both artistes saw fans calling for unity. It was said that females often take clashes too personal, crossing lines that are not meant to be blurred. But at least one noted professor believes just like men are allowed to clash, women should be also be allowed to express themselves as artistes.
Buju’s historic performance at the National Stadium
In what has been described by several international media outlets as his ‘return to glory’, Banton sealed a place in history as one of Jamaica’s greatest musicians with a stellar performance inside the National Stadium back in March. The Gargamel showed no signs of rust as he belted out hit after hit, stunning the sold-out crowd with a seamless performance. A little over 95 minutes was all the entertainer needed to completely make up for the eight years lost behind bars. The night belonged to Banton but there were also performances from Romain Virgo, Coco Tea, Etana, Agent Sasco and more. Banton also shared the stage with Wayne Wonder, Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths and Gramps Morgan.
Yuh Can’t Lock Off the Dance!
The debate surrounding the Noise Abatement Act was another important moment in entertainment last year. Calls for amendments to the 1997 Act were echoed throughout the industry by key players who described the ‘early lock offs’ as a clear ‘fight’ against dancehall. In a show of solidarity, the Government briefly adjusted the act, extending the 2 a.m. cut-off point to 4 a.m. during the Christmas season which ended on December 31. This issue may very well continue throughout 2020 as dancehall players want the extension to be a permanent fixture.
Kanye West brings Sunday Service to Jamaica
American rapper turned Christian Kanye West took his 120-voice choir to Jamaica for a massive free concert inside Emancipation Park. Titled Sunday Service, the event attracted hundreds of Jamaicans to the venue for an evening of praise and worship. With the concert being a pop-up event, there was chatter that the Government moved ‘Heaven and Earth’ to facilitate West and his team. But, with the Ministry of Culture, Gender and Entertainment revealing that West spent more than a US$1 million to stage the event in Jamaica, it’s no wonder he was able to acquire all the necessary permits and with short notice. As the popular saying goes; ‘money talks and bulls**t walks’.
Red Bull Culture Clash
Held inside the National Arena, it was the first time the internationally acclaimed sound clash was being hosted in Jamaica. Although historic, the feat was almost overshadowed by the organisers’ strict ‘no profanities’ rule. Some dancehall insiders felt the clause would ‘water down’ the clash as Jamaican sound clashes by nature are supposed to be raw and unfiltered. In the end, those who attended the clash never seemed to mind the rule. They were simply happy that of all the countries Red Bull could have chosen for the event, they picked Jamaica and expressed that the latter should be the most important takeaway. I agree wholeheartedly!
Mi never touch the money!
A Gleaner article published in November revealed that the $100 million raised by Shaggy from the 2018 staging of his Shaggy and Friends concert was yet to be handed over to the Bustamante Hospital for Children. Questions about where the funds had gone and why after two years the hospital was yet to benefit from the money, forced the Grammy-winning artiste and philanthropist, Shaggy to host a press conference. It was at that media briefing that it was revealed that a total of $112,205,019.06 was still sitting in an account at the Bank of Nova Scotia in the name Shaggy And Friends which has been in operation since January 2014.
Miss World 2019 is … Toni-Ann Singh
The year ended on a high when St Thomas native, Toni-Ann Singh was crowned Miss World 2019 in London on December 14. Singh, who won the competition’s talent fast track event when she sang a version of Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing, broke a 26-year drought for Jamaica in the global beauty pageant as the last Jamaican woman to win the crown was Lisa Hanna back in 1993. Me nah lie, when me hear dem call her name mi scream so much me lose mi voice. She radiated confidence throughout the entire competition and if she never win, me wouldn’t watch a next Miss World long as I live, me serious. She returned to Jamaica on December 20 to a welcome fit for the queen she is.
Other notable moments in 2019
• Sean Paul receives Order of Distinction for his contribution too music. It’s an honour long overdue and well deserved
• Prime Minister Andrew Holness adopts Most Hon Brogad moniker. Maybe he’s just trying to keep up with young folk but whatever his motive, the PM won maximum respect with this one. And with an invitation from Daddy1 to roll with the 6ixx crew anytime, it seems Holness may have earned a legitimate place in the 6ixx.
• Usain Bolt makes his mark on the music industry by releasing two riddims, adding the role of producer to his ever-expanding résumé. The riddims – Immortal and Olympe Rose – feature some of Jamaica’s hottest dancehall artistes, including Vybz Kartel, Dexta Daps, Ding Dong, Munga Honourable and Masicka.