Highlights of 2021
A ‘Spice-y’ year
Planet Earth, ecstatic to see the back of 2020, ushered in 2021 with fervour. The creative sector was chanting freedom from lockdown and ready and eager to embrace the staging of live, legal events, and “eat a food”. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite play out according to script, but enough happened to make 2021 memorable, to say the least.
January got off to a rather fiery start with Fantan Mojah upsetting the Rasta world with the sensuous music video for his single, Fire King. Fantan, they said, “nah hol’ nuh order” as he lived out the lyrics of the song on a king-sized bed, almost suffocated by a group of scantily clad females, as he crooned ‘G string a pap like lastic’.
Veteran deejay Lady Ann also started off 2021 with a stunning performance. Lady Ann turned in a performance at Sister Charmaine’s funeral that was the talk of the town for weeks - if not months. She had the what? Where? And in church, too?
Moving right along. Radio movements took more than their usual share of the spotlight in 2021. The debut of the Bridge seemed to have caused a stir. Ron Muschette crossed over then decided to hang onto the Edge. Zip jock Bambino said goodbye to the ‘Zee’ and zipped over to Fyah. Veteran disc jock Richie B resigned from the Edge and made his way over to the Bridge; and popular radio host Wesley ‘Burgerman’ Burger, who previously co-hosted the Too Live Crew on RJR 94 FM, moved to the Montego Bay-based Mello FM.
Surely one of the highlights of 2021 was the much -anticipated royal wedding of Queenie Ladi Gangsta and her younger beau, Duwayne ‘Dewy’ Scarlett, at Hellshire Beach on March 22. From the two weddding dresses, to the cake, and the look of absolute joy on Queenie’s face, the wedding was everything. The most current update is that Dewy has joined his wife in England.
The year 2021 was certainly ‘Spice-y’. Spice kicked off a trio of performances in June with the GMA Summer Concert Series, followed by Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Wendy Williams Show, performing Go Down Deh, her collab with Shaggy and Sean Paul. She released her debut album, 10, on VP Records label; got nominated for a Grammy award; Go Down Deh found its way on Barak Obama’s playlist; and she has apparently found happiness.
Music industry insider Clyde McKenzie hailed the inroads made by Jamaican music with the performance from Spice, Shaggy, and Sean Paul. “It is a great thing when artistes of that calibre can join forces. It is an indication of the type of promotional possibilities that can happen for reggae and dancehall music. I have long contended that the best promoters of reggae music are Island Records and VP Records. They understand the Jamaican ethos and deal with it in a way that is more empathetic,” McKenzie told The Gleaner.
STACIOUS WINS FESTIVAL SONG COMPETITION
Dancehall artiste Stacious also had her moment in 2021 when she won the Festival Song Competition. It was the fourth time in its 55-year history that a woman was declared winner. The 2021 Festival Song album was also selected for the Grammy’s ‘long list’ for a Best Reggae Album Grammy. Culture and Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange expressed joy at the news, describing the moment as historic.
While many artistes were focused on “yaad”, renowned batsman Chris Gayle, known as the Universe Boss, made a splash as a recording artiste and racked up millions of views with his collab with Indian Rap artiste Emiway Bantai. The single, Jamaica To India, hit 47 million views. “We recorded our parts separately and met up in Dubai to shoot the video, and the synergy was awesome,” Gayle said.
The weekend of October 1, 2021, was not a bright one for the fraternity. It was a double whammy which brought news of reggae singer Jah Cure’s detention in Amsterdam. The entertainer was arrested on October 1, with allegations that he used a knife to stab a concert promoter in the stomach. He remains in custody.
It was also the same weekend during which Elaine ‘General Ling’ Lim, a former Singapore Armed Forces soldier, announced on social media that she was the woman who had accused veteran singer Richie Stephens of sexual abuse while on tour in Australia in 2019. Lim won the sympathy of many.
Stephens, in response, released a five-minute video, outlining that the matter had been investigated by the police in Australia and “they found her allegations were simply baseless”. Australian authorities confirmed to The Gleaner that a criminal investigation that was opened after Stephens was accused of sexual abuse in 2019 was closed.
In September, celebs hastened to bless up a “stronger dan ever mentally and physically” Vybz Kartel as he made a post summing up his successes despite being in prison. September 29, 2021, marked 10-year anniversary of his incarceration. Kartel celbrates his 46th birthday today.
Despite lockdown, even during the festive season, the year ended with good news that $90 million had been allocated to the creative sector. Persons were urged to apply for a sum of $60,000 each. Up to last week Friday, more than $6 million had been disbursed, with some persons even receiving their funds in time for Christmas.