Reggae & Dancehall #32: Mr. Vegas, Popcaan, Masicka

If it’s happening in reggae, it’s here on Clash…

The latest news and reviews – and more, as always – from scene queen Reshma B…

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NEWS

Vybz Kartel has begun serving a life sentence – along with four co-defendants including fellow artist Shawn Storm – for the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams (video here).

While Kartel’s legal team prepares to appeal his conviction, Jamaican police commissioner Owen Ellington has stated in a recent interview that the police did not mishandle evidence, and that Kartel was the head of a gang responsible for “well over 100 murders”.

Meanwhile, Kartel’s attorney has rejected any suggestion of recording music during his sentence, but his latest songs to be released features a new nickname, Addi Innocent.

This month, London’s High Court will be the site of a legal battle between two music publishing companies: the late Danny Sims’ Cayman Music and Chris Blackwell’s Blue Mountain Music, both of which retain rights to some of Bob Marley’s songwriting catalogue.

Cayman – which represented Marley’s catalogue from 1967 to 1976 – are suing Blue Mountain for “misattribution, and diversion of income, amongst other things", in hopes of retrieving the rights to some of Marley’s best-known songs, including ‘No Woman, No Cry’. According to the plaintiffs, Marley credited the song to his friend Vincent Ford in an attempt to avoid contractual obligations to Cayman. Forty-odd years later, those rights will be worth millions of pounds.

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TRACKS

Rootsy dancehall DJ Kabaka Pyramid (pictured) has made a name for himself with a steady stream of conscious tunes. He recently released a video for his standout cut on DJ Frass’ ‘Cane River’ riddim. The song is called 'Never Gonna Be A Slave', and the refreshing video turns the camera on the ordinary Jamaican people, young and old, all declaring their independence from the Babylon system:

Iba MaHr pays tribute to dancehall fashions of yesteryear on his latest release, ‘Diamond Sox’. Produced by Notis, the song brings back a vintage dancehall vibe and celebrates the days when all a dude needed to wear in the dance was a mesh marina.

Dancehall artist Masicka has been on the rise for the past few years and now that he’s signed with SubKonshus Music he’s got the streets on fire with his ‘Sikk Tape’ (download here) and a brand new song called ‘The Truth’. This bone-crushing diss track is aimed at Aidonia, who has allegedly used his clout to suppress the young artist’s career by instructing producers not to voice him.

We’re still waiting to hear Didi’s side of the story, but meanwhile here’s what Masicka has to say about the whole thing:

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ALBUMS

You already know that the world of dancehall moves fast. But if you’ve been slipping on the latest cuts, then VP/Greensleeves has got you covered. Their ‘Ragga Ragga Ragga’ compilation for 2014 drops this month. The latest instalment includes fresh cuts from Alkaline (‘1,2,3’), Spice (‘So Me Like It’), Busy Signal (pictured, ‘Crazy Sex’), Vybz Kartel (‘Punany A Mi Best Friend’), Christopher Martin (‘Secret Love’), and more – strictly ragga style.

Hot on the heels of last year’s release, ‘Bruk It Down 2.0’, Mr. Vegas (pictured, main) is back with another dancehall-focused album called ‘Euphoria’. The year-to-year hit-maker has been on a roll lately with tracks like ‘Real Don’ (below) and ‘Protector’ keeping the sound system circuit on lock. No wonder his fans are euphoric.

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RIDDIMS

Fresh riddims in rotation this month include Anju Blax’s sexy 'Punjabi’ riddim. The entire juggling is packed full of heavy hitters. Faves include Spice’s ‘Snake Charmer’, Popcaan’s (pictured) ‘Tie Me’ (below) and ‘Love Doctor’ by Alkaline.

International chart-topping producer Jah Snowcone is back with a new name, Victory Boss, and a classic dancehall riddim called ‘Nuh Fraid’ that’s taking the dancehall back to classic 1980s digital vibes. Standout cuts include Mr. Vegas and Joe Lickshot’s ‘Real Don’, Elephant Man’s ‘Ting Deh’ and Suku’s throwback joint ‘Easy’.

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UPCOMING GIGS

After a few years’ hiatus, Calabash Literary Festival (online) is back on May 30-June 1, bringing the best Caribbean and international authors to Jake’s Place on Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. This year the infamous Mobb Deep will be heading down to JA to read from Prodigy’s hard-boiled urban novel H.N.I.C., as well as selections from street-lit classics like Black Lotus by K’wan, and Swing by Miasha. And, of course, after dark the midnight raving begins.


UK dub pioneer Mad Professor will take the stage at Dingwalls in London on May 25th, alongside Finley Quaye and Jamaican roots star Jesse Royal. Check here for more details.

If it’s Memorial Day Weekend in Miami, then it must be time for Best Of The Best, kicking off Sunday, May 25th, with a line-up of stars including Beres, Barrington, Beenie and Cocoa Tea. Representing the soca world are Bunji Garlin, Destra, and Edwin Yearwood. For more info hit up the official site

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AND TO WRAP UP

There are a few main things you can do during the Easter weekend in Jamaica: pray, party or perform (if you are an artist) or go see a performance (if you are not). More than likely, you will be doing at least one of these, or maybe all three Ps, between Good Friday and Easter Monday.

With the streets of Kingston looking a little bit sleepy, real music lovers made the drive up to Ocho Rios where the parties and stage shows were kicking off. In true Jamaican fashion the artists circulated from party to party, touching the stage to give their fans a short and spicy live set – the later the show, the better the vibes.

A little after 1am, Lady Saw (pictured above) had full control of the stage, performing her show-stopping ‘Heels On’ routine for the massive – and you already know how that one goes. Saw demonstrated a few over-the-top bedroom manoeuvres on stage for the whole world to see. Next up was Capleton, who brought the usual ‘more fire’ energy with a medley of his hottest hits from over the years.

After standout sets by two veteran artists, it was time for Popcaan and the Unruly Team to take the stage with a set that was both party and performance rolled into one – plus maybe a prayer or two thrown in for good measure. It’s kinda unusual to see Papi, whose highly anticipated debut album ‘Where We Come From’ drops this June on Mixpak Records, hitting up local stages. With his former mentor Kartel now serving a life sentence, Popcaan stands as one of the biggest stars in Jamaica. On this occasion everything was more than nice: “Hennessy back up right now,” was the backstage flow before the Unruly Boss took to the stage.

Laced in his trademark Clarks with some Union Jack socks to complete the UK theme, Popcaan wasted no time with hits like ‘Party Shot’ and ‘Only Man She Want’ getting the girls hype-hype-hype and the ghetto youths singing all the words to 'Gangsta City' and pushing the vibes.. In true boss fashion, Papi took time out to welcome a few special guests on stage, making space to give Vybrant, Versatile and Chi-Ching-Ching some shine.

After all the raving and sufferers anthems, Papi dropped ‘Everything Nice’, the first track released from his forthcoming album. The song has been getting a strong response on the island, holding heavy rotation in the dances – but just when it was time for everyone to “Put their drinks up”, Papi bolted off the stage leaving the guys licking shots in the air and the girls screaming.

“I always leave them wanting more,” Papi said offstage, as he explained that his new album is gonna show a completely different side to the raving king. Looks like the island has one more P to deal with: patience. Until then, “put yo cups them high”…

Check Papi holding a vibes backstage, onstage and offstage at Ochi with the Unruly Team:

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See ya next month!

Words: Reshma B (online / Twitter)
Mr Vegas photo: Rodrigo Vaz (from MTV)

Related: more Reggae & Dancehall columns on Clash

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