Words And Images From The Greatest Reggae Show On Earth, Night #1
Dateline: Montego Bay, Jamaica. Whether your musical taste runs
more to Bunny Wailer, Mavado or Nicki Minaj—the 19th annual staging of
the Greatest Reggae Show on Earth had a little bit of something for
everybody. As usual, the festivities kicked off on Thursday with
Dancehall Night, and all the hottest artists on the streets of
Kingston were in attendance… from rising stars like Chan Dizzy, Tifa,
and Konshens to established hitmakers like Spice, Assassin, and
I-Octane, whose fans showed their appreciation with blazing torches
and fireworks before building a raging bonfire in the middle of the
outdoor arena that threatened to upstage the artists’s fiery
performance. Khago—who got his first big “bust” on last year’s Sumfest
with his smash hit “Nah Sell Out”—was even greater than last year. He
tried his best to dispel any rumors of a rivalry between him and
Octane, a welcome gesture of peace in these tempestuous times. The
last four artists to perform have all been locked in epic conflicts
for so many years that you need a to keep track. Bounty Killer, the
5-star general of the Alliance, blazed the stage in classical “Cross,
angry, miserable” form, blasting his forrmer protege Vybz Kartel and
his long-time nemesis Beenie Man. Beenie came out next with a smile on
his face, whipping the MoBay crowd into a frenzy without breaking a
sweat. He later called Mya out to perform their hit “Girls Dem Sugar,”
although he declined to wine pon her, saying he was now a married man
and his wife would kill him. Next up was the Gully Gaad, fresh from
foreign where he Mavado had been enjoying his recently reinstated
visa. As he thrilled the crowd with shots like “Fly Again” and
“Delilah,” the Starbwoy was kind enough to remove some of his new gear
and throw it to the crowd—exiting the stage in true Gully style:
barefoot with cut-off jeans and a tank top.

Finally it was time for the Worlboss aka Vybz Kartel, who held the crowd till the dawn’s early light, giving much shine to Gaza Empire artists like Popcaan, Sheba, Vanessa Bling, and new recruit Tommy Lee on the same night that his former protege Jah Vinci made his solo debut on the Sumfest stage. But
clearly Kartel was not tripping: “As one gone,” he said, “another one born.”


Two bashment girls in the crowd, looking very House of Leo.


Fambo drinks in all that Sumfest love.


Konshens reps for the Gargamel.


Tifa shoots for the stars.


Cecile lets it be known: “Dem nuh hot like we.”


Agent Sasco was the best kept secret at Sumfest this year.


Flash up yuh lighter if you feel the vibes.


Warlord nuh business, everything dead.


Beenie Man says “my career dem nah stop.”


Mavado takes the stage in full Starbwoy mode.


Fans grab for the Starbwoy’s T-shirt.


The Stulla invites one lucky lady onstage.


Kartel and his Gaza empire close out Dancehall Night.


The youths are listening keenly.

Photographs By Radcliffe Roye and Rob Kenner

For more Sumfest reportage, check out vibe.com