Illustration by TTK

MURDA SHE WROTE: Tommy Lee, Alkaline, Popcaan, Shenseea

With the 25th annual staging of Reggae Sumfest now in the books, there are a few important takeaways to ponder. First and foremost, the island’s premiere reggae and dancehall festival is under new management and stronger than ever under the direction of Down Sound Entertainment.  Second, overseas artists are generally over-hyped, over-priced, and fans are over it. The only overseas acts this year were Pato Rankin the Nigerian dancehall artist, Richie Stephens’ Ska Nation Band, which at least played Jamaican music, and Toronto R&B star Tory Lanez, whose set was most notable for the Jamaican guest artist he brought out for a surprise performance. (Whether there is any deep meaning behind Popcaan’s decision to perform with an artist who has taken so many shots at Drizzy Drake over the years is another discussion for another day.) As is usually the case, Dancehall Night attracted the biggest crowd—packing out Montego Bay’s Catherine Hall to maximum capacity. All of which is another way of saying that the slogan “Our Music Our Festival” hits the nail on the head. On that note, let’s get to the real dancehall.

Tommy Lee “Rise Mi Anger”

Alkaline was expected to be the big story of Sumfest’s Dancehall night, and he did perform well. What fewer people expected was that Tommy Lee, who followed Alkaline and had the difficult task of closing the show at 9 am under the bright Jamaican sunshine, woud do so well. But that hometown crowd had the local MoBay native’s back and sent the Sparta General home with a rousing reception. “Dem rise me anger,”” Tommy Lee says on this diss tune, apparently recorded specifically for the occasion of the festival, and whose barbs are presumably directed at Alkaline. “Dem nah live no longer.” Promising “bullet nuffer than the people them at Sumfest,” Tommy calls the Madden Funeral Home for “a dozen body bag.” And just like that the dancehall balance of power shifts. What a different one festival can make.



Alkaline “My Love”


Apparently unconcerned with Tommy Lee’s latest zinger, Alkaline focuses his attention on the ladies. “Woman alone me give my love,” he sings over this radio-ready Auto-Tune-augmented True Ambassador Entertainment production. Moreover, he loves women of all backgrounds, whether they come from from uptown or the ghetto. Beenie Man’s Slam” notwithstanding,” Alka’s main focus is that any girls he connects with are natural—aka “Born This Way” as Lady Gaga might put it. “Some man ah switch fe opportunity,” Alkaline observes. “Bwoy them lose themselves caw them too licky …Nothing to me back gate.” Along with this bold declaration, Alka raises a quizzical eyebrow at the all the the men he suspects might be a “Sea creature on the side.”


Popcaan “Bad Yuh Bad”

Ever since Bolt rocked out to his sounds during the Olympics. Popcaan may have seemed a little bit xn=mannbbiu[hs;u 0t pent the last year or so flying out as usual, jetting around the the UK, and working on his second album for Mixpak. In the meantime he’s dropping heat like this joint off Krisbeatß’s combustible Hot Like Fire Riddim. By the way big congratulations to the Unruly Boss. Word on the street is that Papi recently got his U.S. visa and work permit approved, with plans to defend his Red Bull Culture Clash title. Prediction: if he draws for this fast-paced digital tune the place will defo mash up. Singing the praises of his lady’s pum pum—is there any greater inspiration?—Popcaan spits one of his hardest tunes in recent memory.


Shenseea “Time Up”

Seanizzle’s piano-driven One Chance riddim provides the backdrop for Shen’s latest release, a no-nonsense breakup song. “It’s time to move on,” the dancehall’s latest damsel sings bittersweetly. “Not gonna hold on to you, I’m no longer a fool.” In the verses she details her no-good man’s offenses, including fatal flaws like telling lies, linking with his ex, and “draining her energy.” While Shenseea seems to have plenty of energy to spare, maybe her secret is not getting caught up in bad situations.


Young Vybz Production 1Guh Riddim

As the son of Shocking Vibes founder Patrick Roberts, Jamie Roberts was born into the dancehall game. And having witnessed the evolution of a superstar like Beenie Man he knows greatness when he sees it. Maybe that’s why of Young Vibez Productions can recongnize star potential when he sees it—whether from big  names like Beenie, Popcaan or Aidonia, or emeging talents of tomorrow like Ch-Ching, Propa Fade or Ja Frass. All of the above get their chance to share on this minimalist menacing riddim track. Str8 shotta settings. Squeeze off.

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