Sizzling close to Jamaica Rum Festival
It was to be a festive night for those tuning in to the Jamaica Rum Festival Virtual Concert on Saturday as Shenseea, Shaggy, and Sizzla transported those in attendance from their homes to the front of the stage.
The curtains went up with dancehall’s princess, Shenseea, dressed in a skin-tight emerald green jumpsuit and black high-heel boots. With the help of Romeich Entertainment team member and dancer Happy Feet, the singjay started with a fiery medley of her most popular tracks, including Nothing Dem Nuh Have Ova Mi, Wasabi, Independent Gyal, Trick’a Treat, and Rebel. The two women treated the stage like a day on the playground, having fun while taking command of the space.
It was not long before Shenseea kicked her shoes to the side, demonstrating to viewers that the show was about to get serious. The mood of the concert was amplified with the singjay declaring that she was a “born Jamaican”, dangerous and armed with messages of female empowerment and what it means to be an independent, powerful woman in the country.
The Blessed artiste’s set would not have been complete without singing her collaboration with reggae singer Tarrus Riley, who joined her on stage for a lighter-raising performance. The chemistry between Shenseea and Tarrus made it all the more entertaining.
Shaggy was up next, and he, too, put on a show, taking fans on a nostalgic tour of his extensive catalogue of ska, reggae, old-school mixes of rock, and fusion dancehall music.
A true ambassador for Jamaican music, he pointed out, “there was no better love song than a reggae love song” as he reiterated a conversation he had with international R&B singer Ne-Yo, which led to them writing and recording You Girl. “One in five Jamaican men have at least 10 baby madda,” he said jokingly, adding in his explanation “that never happen on no Lionel Richie. That happened on some Beres Hammond, some Gregory Isaacs, and the Bob Marley Turn Your Lights Down Low … so we decided to make this track".
The Grammy Award-winning recording artiste was accompanied by the Hot Shot Band and long-time friend and dancehall entertainer Rayvon — a pleasant addition to the stage — engaging each other, the musicians, and patrons in the digital bleachers with the delivery of classic hits like Angel, Sexy Lady, Bashment Party, and It Wasn ’t Me, which closed out his set.
With a smaller line-up than usual, all three recording artistes took on a headline role, but it was the reggae-dancehall entertainer who boasts over 60 albums and an enviable number of track releases throughout his career, Sizzla, would brought the concert to a fiery close. From the hard-hitting I Was Born (In A System), Got It Right Here, Mash Dem Down, and Simplicity, which he used to call out leaders for a lack of attention to the needs of the people, to songs like Woman I Need You, Thank You Mama, Dry Cry, Give Me A Try for the segment he dedicated to women.
As he made his way through his set, as he crooned the one-liner, “no, no, no, no way,” to rebel against the time offered to him on stage. Sizzla said he had many matters to address, including the pandemic, racism, and violence against black people and the distressing increase in crime in Jamaica, which could not be done in the six minutes remaining. And humble he was when he was given the extension, expressing gratitude:“Big up the authorities, big up for the extension of time … I am honoured to be part of this show.”
He continued with sizzling hits Be Strong, Rise To The Occasion, Solid As A Rock, and for a grand exit off stage that would be just as memorable as his performance, Sizzla grabbed a bunch of sugar cane stalks as he deejayed Take Myself Away.
Following his performance, an almost breathless Sizzla told The Gleaner: “I had to get it right. This was a large investment from the organisers. It is Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, and there are a lot of respectable and responsible people here for reggae music, which is also a million-dollar corporation, so we had to take this opportunity to remind people about the culture and the importance of the nation to come together for the stability of our country.”