Jamaican festival returns...

The nineteenth Reggae Sumfest hits the stage this weekend promising a bumper year for star combos. Punters in the Montego Bay sun can look forward to three big nights which include several artists who've done important collaborations.

Other highlights include a performance from R Kelly, whose last gig in Jamaica ended in controversy when it was less a case of "I Believe I Can Fly" and more "I Believe My Fly's Undone" after a notorious 'pulling down his pants' moment. Also sure to thrill, whether she pulls down anything or not, will be Nicki Minaj.

Artists on the bill for the three day event who've had important collaborations include R Kelly & Elephant Man, Spice & Vybz Kartel (both appearing Thursday) and Nicki Minaj & Gyptian (both appearing Saturday).

Last year's Sumfest had its fair share of scandal with Vybz Kartel only just being released from custody in time for the event (and turning up in handcuffs and prison jumpsuit to rub it in), Chris Brown being in the news for beating up on his girlfriend Rihanna and a peace breakout at the end. As to this year, the beach party has kicked things off and everyone's readying themselves for three all nighters of reggae pleasure.

Thursday's Dancehall Night headliners include VYBZ "Di Teacha" KARTEL who's had a big year, culminating in style with his album "Kingston Story" produced by Dre Skull. But of course he's never been far from the news, whether it's skin bleaching, having hair extensions, bringing out his own brand of soap linked allegedly to skin lightening, being unable to travel to overseas gigs, and having a bust up with most of his empire. His latest venture is likely to do the same - a TV dating reality show in which twenty girls from JA and the world compete to be the girlfriend of - guess who - Vybz Kartel.

If you'd like to apply, the closing date is August 5th.

Dancehall Night also features hit factory MAVADO who had recent success in the UK featuring on Chipmunk's "Every Gyal", as well as big hitters BOUNTY KILLER, BEANIE MAN and ELEPHANT MAN. Laden will be representing the Big Ship Crew

In recent years the dancehall queens have been an increasing draw and I for one can't wait to see the hair, nails, costumes and most of all moves of the 2011 lineup, including SPICE who has just released the catchy new summer track with Missy Elliot called simply "Fun". Her raunchy style got worldwide attention in ‘Ramping Shop’ – will she and Kartel will give us a live performance?

TIFA the princess of dancehall returns after her spectacular main stage debut last year. This name to watch has been busy recording and releasing tracks and videos, and has her debut album scheduled to be out 2012.

CECILE showed how sexy she could be last year in an incredible amount of outfit changes. This Bad Gyal is top of the sizzle list with hot lyrics and a body to die for.

IKAYA – also performing for the second time at Sumfest this dancehall act is really coming up trumps in the dancehall scene, with hits including ‘Good Up’ and ‘Hard Way’.

Friday night is the first of the two international nights and the expectation around R KELLY is electric. Not just because of the trouserless moment last time he appeared, but mainly because of his hits like 'Ignition', 'Bump ‘n’ Grind' and 'I Believe I Can Fly' - the last of which won three Grammys.

The event always sees one act honoured. Last year it was Bounty Killer and this year it's veteran reggae star, BERES ("I Feel Good") HAMMOND. It's his first Sumfest for a few years during which he's been plenty busy.

Then comes the last day and boy have the promoters pulled it out of the bag with rap sensation NICKI MINAJ.

Her 2010 debut album Pink Friday debuted at #1 on the Billboard albums chart –but with such a heavy line up of awesome talent - and a crowd that doesn’t mind telling you if they’re not feeling you -the pressure will be on. Other heavyweights on the bill include JAH CURE, WAYNE WONDER, Morgan Heritage sibling LAZA MORGAN and, returning to the stage after a massively successful 2010 - and a slightly 'off the radar' 2011 – GYPTIAN.

Might we be in line for a live performance from Gyptian and Nicky doing ‘Yuh Love’? A tantalising possibility - just goes to show Sumfest is hanging onto its reputation as the greatest reggae show on earth.

Words by Reshma B (www.reggaegirlabouttown.com)

WHAT: Reggae Sumfest 2011
WHEN: Beach Party: 17th July, Dancehall Night: 21st July, International Night One: 22nd July, International Night Two: 23rd July: Show Starts 9pm
WHERE: Catherine Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica
TICKETS: www.reggaesumfest.com

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