Letter From Kingston: Laing Reigns Supreme

Sevens Clash Pays A Visit To The Man Who Started Sting

Isaiah Laing is the originator of Sting, Jamaica’s premiere one-night live music event held on Boxing Day (December 26) annually since 1984. His preternatural ability to consistently populate the lineup with a perfect balance of talent has helped the show keep pace with constantly shifting tastes over the course of the past 28 years… Before Sting, Laing was a policeman. Active between 1976 and 1996 he was widely known as a rogue in the mold of men like Trinity, Tony Hewitt and Bigga Ford. A brush with mortality during a gun battle on Matches Lane early in his career led him to embrace a philosophy of duty based around a version of moral equivalency that would conveniently justify any activity outside the parameters of normal police protocol. Much like Texas Ranger John Coffee “Jack” Hays adopted the war tactics and fighting techniques of the feared Comanches along the North American frontier, in wild-West Kingston Laing became a bad man with a badge and a nine. Despite the potboilers overflowing with lurid tales of shootouts and battle scars (starring Laing as valiant crime fighter) that tend to litter the local news cycle around this time of year, his reputation on the street as a ruthless vigilante who has caught more bodies than bullets is deeply etched in popular memory. In 1991, when Tiger asked, “Whe di bad boy police name?” on his hit call and response record, When, everybody, including schoolchildren, knew the answer. Today, fully sixteen years since he turned in his badge, the proper reply remains the same, “Laing!” 
Tiger “When”

Inside his office at Supreme Promotions in Kingston, a random selection of posters from past shows prompts a cascade of off-the-record anecdotes spanning almost three full decades of dancehall history. The majority of the stories hinge on variations of three main interrelated themes: clashes, bottles and unpredictable crowds. It seems that Laing struck gold right out of the gate. Outside of a fresh lineup each year, a few venue changes and an amended bottle policy, the format of the show hasn’t changed all that much over the years. Though tag teams are slated to replace one-on-one combat, the clash will be front and center once again at Sting 2012. Current crowd favorite Tommy Lee Sparta, the recently released singjay Busy Signal and the Prodigal Son of Sting Ninjaman anchor a massive all-star lineup that features a wide assortment of veterans and newcomers, including the likes of Sizzla, Aidonia, Popcaan, Kiprich, Mavado, I-Wayne, Tony Matterhorn, Spice, Etana, Romain Virgo, Gyptian, Chuck Fender, Lutan Fyah, Konshens, John Holt, George Nooks, Errol Dunkley and many more. The legacy continues. Read the rest at SevensClash.com


Read the rest at Sevensclash.com

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