The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) is probing how convicted dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel came to be in possession of two cellular phones just days apart at the Tower Street Correctional Facility.
Thursday, 25 May 2023 14:11

Music legend Tina Turner dies at 83

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Tina Turner, the unstoppable singer and stage performer who teamed with husband Ike Turner for a dynamic run of hit records and live shows in the 1960s and '70s and survived her horrifying marriage to triumph in middle age with the chart-topping "What's Love Got to Do With It," has died at 83.

"Tonight, wi nuh deh pon no haste..." was the warning issued by Craig Genius of 5 Star General sound to the Echo One contingent at the start of Round 1 in Saturday night's final of the Magnum All- Star Sound Clash competition. But, Echo One had the last laugh, as the Clarendon/Portmore-based sound used song selection, wit, energy, theatrics, and well-oiled dub plate specials to emerge as the winner of the 11-week competition.

Echo One triumphed in four rounds, while the St Thomas-based 5 Star General came out on top in one.

In Round 1, each sound played for 20 minutes. Echo One's DJ Fire Wayne was in his element while his MC, Bruck Bad, brought the vibes. His interaction with the crowd was on point. The judges declared Echo One the winner of this round.

Echo One took Round 2 due to an infringement of the competition's rules by 5 Star General's MC Bad Stain. Still, 5 Star General's Andrew Pang put in a good set.

Round 3 was the challenge round in which each sound had to dig into the archives of producer Lloyd "King Jammy" James.

Bad Stain, from 5 Star General, came out dressed in a Rasta-coloured mesh merino and bearing a stack of vinyl 45 rpms and an old turntable, indicating that they were ready to battle musically.

Wayne Smith's Under Mi Sleng Teng, Tenor Saw's Pumpkin Belly, and Fire Bun Weak Heart by Bushman were unleashed in a musical fury by 5 Star General, but Echo One seemed unfazed. For his set, DJ Fire Wayne threw in staple Bounty Killer songs from the King Jammy's archives as well as Ninja Man's Border Clash, Bandelero by Pinchers, and Deh Wid Yuh by Super Black.

This round was a draw as two judges voted in favour of 5 Star General and the other two gave the edge to Echo One.

Veteran dancehall artiste Admiral Bailey, DJs Al Pachino and Randy Rich, and Oral Tracey were the judges.

In the singers' round, 5 Star General came out blazing on all torches in Round 4 with songs including Worries and Problem by Bushman, Stealing by John Holt, Too Young by Cocoa Tea, and Beres Hammond's No Goodbyes, which kept the crowd on a high.

But Echo One got the edge with songs such as Splashing Dashing by Garnet Silk and Bodyguard by Ghost.

As is the norm with sound clashes, the "dub fi dub" segment is always anticipated, as sounds line up to unleash the best from their collection. And Round 5 went to Echo One.

The winners took home a cash prize of $1 million.

"Tonight, has been extremely exciting. Di man dem put some investment in their dub. The dubs were back-to-back to back-to-back, and they definitely deserved to win tonight," Kamal Powell, marketing manager, Magnum Tonic Wine, told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the conclusion of the event.

"We really appreciate the work they have done because Magnum is all about investing in dancehall music, and tonight showed how important a clash is to dancehall music and the development of music overall in Jamaica. So big up to 5 Star General, they definitely showed some energy, and they brought something to the floor. Big up to Echo One," said Powell after the Kingston waterfront-venued final.

The final was streamed live on the platform, with guest performers Artical, Moyann, and Laa Lee.

Powell explained the brand's decision to partner with the organisers of the all-star sound clash.

"It was very simple. We want to invest in [up-and-coming] artistes and sounds. Magnum is about taking it international, taking it to the world," said Powell.

MC Craig Genius, of 5 Star General, was in good spirits and highlighted the benefits gained in participating in the competition.

"It was a very good experience, and we really love and respect what Magnum is doing. We are looking forward to a better year next year. A lot of people doubted us, and we made it this far to the grand final," he said.

"The competition has definitely helped us in terms of getting recognition and exposure. We are yutes from the ghetto, zinc fence and board house, and to be here now, is a very special feeling for us," he continued.

Andrew Pang of 5 Star General thanked the supporters: "Big up di whole team, the fans, and the people who have been supporting us. It was a great clash," he said.

"Win or lose, 5 Star is still a winner in our parish and with ourselves. It's still a win for us," said Bad Stain.

Echo One's Bruck Bad said he was overjoyed when the sound was declared winner.

"I'm lost for words right now. Mi just waa say whole heap a love, whole heap of respect fi all a di support, and fi di people who believe inna mi and who never believe inna mi. All a di bad encouragement and negative words that have been said about mi, I used them as strength and worked on my craft to be a better DJ," said Bruck Bad.

He said he, too, gained a lot from participating in the clash.

"My knowledge of music was opened up. At one point mi did kinda too overconfident. Inna clash yuh haffi know what yuh say. 'Cause what yuh say can kill yuh," he disclosed.

Asked what the win signified for Echo One, Bruck Bad said: "It signifies that you should look out for more. Look out fi di unexpected."

Tuesday, 23 May 2023 11:30

Dancehall artiste Squash detained in Florida

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Dancehall artiste Squash, whose given name is Andre Whittaker, has reportedly been arrested in Florida on immigration-related charges.

Former Scare Dem Crew member, Boom Dandimite, died on Sunday morning in a hospital in Florida in the United States after suffering a relapse several weeks after a serious car crash in April of this year.

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 12:49

Red Rose for Gregory - a treat for mothers

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American R&B singer Deniece Williams received her 'roses' at Sunday's staging of Red Rose for Gregory at Hope Gardens in St Andrew.

Driven by his love for the music from the land of his birth, real estate agent-turned-promoter Byron Somers has worked hard to fill the void created by a lack of reggae events in Orlando, Florida, with his Bellevue Music Festival.

Somers, who hails from the sleepy Portland community of Bellevue, was able to secure the likes of Sean Kingston, Shaneil Muir, Iyara, Louie Culture, Badda General, and Rotimi for this year's staging at Festival Park in downtown Orlando on Saturday.

However, he underlines that it is becoming increasingly difficult for himself and other Jamaican promoters based overseas to stage quality reggae and dancehall events in the US as a result of the high fees being charged by artistes, as well as lingering visa issues.

"I really wanted Beenie Man on my stage tonight. I stopped in Jamaica last year during the summer and I did a video, Better Life, with him and Iyara. But, unfortunately, he doesn't have a visa. I called just about all the artistes who have a name, who have a brand in dancehall, to be here tonight. But everybody is at US$100,000 or above," Somers disclosed in an interview with the Jamaica Observer shortly after his event, which is in its second year, came to an end.

"In putting together a stage show with multiple artistes, how can we afford US$100,000 ($15.5 million) for one artiste, US$100,000 for two artistes and then US$50,000 ($7.7 million) for the others? That's not possible, guys, it's all about numbers. Let's fix dancehall. Stop 'chopping' dancehall, please," he urged.

Chopping, in Jamaican parlance, refers to scamming and money laundering.

Somers said most Jamaican promoters are hard-working individuals who invest their money in events and are not able to meet what he described as exorbitant demands.

"People stop sell weed a 'farin'. Jamaicans stop sell coke a farin. Wi a work wi hard-earned money. Most promoters right now are not chopping di line. We are working our hard-earned money and we want to put great events together. Now, if we are only working to pay you guys, it doesn't make sense. We gotta make it make sense. I am here to put on great events, but I also need you guys to work with us," Somers charged.

Another event promoter who requested anonymity was in full agreement as he shared his own challenges with securing dancehall acts.

"Last year mi book an artiste for my event from Jamaica and his fee was US$40,000 ($6.2 million). This year I wanted to bring him back and his fee is now US$80,000 ($12.4 million). I said, 'OK, I'm sorry I am unable to reach that amount of money.' So what I did was book three soca artistes and their fees did not exceed US$30,000 ($4.7 million). And, guess what? The venue was jam-packed. Afrobeats is the rage right now, and those artistes are also cheaper than dancehall artistes, and the venues are pulling big numbers. So, the artistes need to be careful that they don't out-price themselves out of the business," the promoter offered.

Somers feels many dancehall and reggae artistes are not seeing the big picture as far as the industry is concerned.

"We're not even seeing Best of The Best [annual dancehall show in Miami] being held this year. I saw that there was this opportunity to start something. I wouldn't say it's dying, but it's really deteriorating. This is my culture weh mi grow up wid inna Jamaica and I want to help to preserve it. The artistes in dancehall [need to] stop chop dancehall; let's grow it and cherish it. Let's love, unite and come together and make it work," he said.

Kevin Jackson - Jamaica Observer

Dancehall artiste Kemar 'Sauceboss' Highcon was released from a Florida lock-up on Sunday on a US$500 bond after being charged with grand theft auto, a third degree felony, last week.

Monday, 15 May 2023 14:42

Iley Dread drops new single from behind bars

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Reggae singer Chardavid, aka ‘Iley Dread’, has released his first single from behind bars in the United States. Titled Inna America aka Conspiracy, it dropped on Mother’s Day and the proceeds are earmarked for the Innocent Project.

“This will be my first single since 2017 when I released Smile, which was submitted as charity to Operation Smile, which performs free surgeries for children with cleft palate. The song is already receiving critical acclaim from some of the top deejays and industry people such as Cordell Burrell aka ‘Skatta’, who said in two points, ‘The lyrical argument is bad and the beat is mad.’ He also offered to make me a wicked beat for my new project, so I am anticipating he will deliver his best based on his expression,” an upbeat Chardavid, whose real name is Colin Levy, explained.

He shared that super producer Clive Hunt has also listened to the track and given it the thumbs up, and emphasised that he was “more than grateful” for the encouragement from these two reperesentatives from the music fraternity.

“Clive Hunt is not a man of many words and when he said, ‘It’s a great track and will create a massive impact’, it means so much to me. This beat was made by Geoffrey Star, who has multiple executive producers and artistes knocking at his studio door for beats. The song was recorded and arranged by Andrew Jonah, and 100 per cent of my portion of the proceeds, along with Andrew Jonah’s, shall be donated to the legal aid organisation Innocent Project, which fights tirelessly for those incarcerated unjustly,” said the reggae singer, songwriter, and producer, who told the The Gleaner in January that on November 2, 2018, he was “arrested in Canada and extradited to America for something that I was totally clueless about”.

Expanding on the beat, he stated that Inna America will also be released as “a juggling” with multiple dancehall-driven artistes “because it is a dancehall beat”.

A number of artistes have already recorded songs on the beat, including Norris Man, who delivered Iley Dread’s Kings of Kings label’s first chart-topper, Persistence. He is confident that Norris Man’s song can be a follow-up to Persistence.

“A remixed version of Inna America aka Conspiracy will also be coming out soon and will be on my album, which is currently being worked on by Clive Hunt, Dean Frasier, Wyz Malcolm of Cornerstone production, Kweku Afro and Andrew Jonah,” Iley Dread added.

A follow-up single titled Chant is already in the works, and it speaks in part to the encouragement that Iley Dread has been receiving since he officialy informed family, friends and fans that he was “alive and well” even though physically incarcerated.

“I am feeling motivated by the outpouring of prayer and encouragement I have been getting from the musical family, for which I am sincerely grateful and wish you all heaven’s blessings. One love,” he said

Inna America aka Conspiracy is being distributed internationally by VP Records.

The exciting semi-final round in the Magnum All Star Sound Clash came to a satisfying end on Friday, seeing Echo 1 sound securing the final spot in the finals. The Portmore-based sound system competed against Japanese Sound, Rispec Jam in round two of the semi-finals.

Tuesday, 09 May 2023 14:08

Forbes names Dream Weekend a top festival

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Global media company, Forbes Magazine, on Friday, May 5, 2023, listed Dream Weekend as one  of the top festivals in Jamaica.

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