Written By: Vybz Kartel
The year 2006 marks the return of the Reggae Sunsplash show to Jamaica. Don't get it twisted, Sumfest is a great festival but the return of Sunsplash is the re-emergence of the ultimate, and it is a joy to see a great festival return to claim its status as the premiere musical entertainment event in Jamaica, this is really a signal of a return, a move that is 'back to basics'.
This will be my first Sunsplash, and this is a great occasion for me as it is an honour to grace the stage, especially in this, the virgin stage, when the born-again Sunsplash is building up a new foundation. Over the years,I have heard people say that, to get a taste of the original Reggae Sunsplash vibe, one would have to travel to California to attend the Reggae On The River Festival.
This festival is an annual three-day festival presenting the best of reggae in a setting where culture, and positive vibes, and maybe, if they're lucky, good weed, is the overwhelming experience of the hundreds of thousands attending.
And that's a shame. I have not had a chance to get a full 'Splash experience similar to what I have heard older people talking about the sense of community and family that existed in the good old days of Sunsplash, where it was a family affair. You went with your parents and their friends, and their friends brought their kids and made a week out of it. Armed with blankets, water igloos full of ice and beer, rum and sodas, they would walk and walk over the sea of reggae beds till they found a spot where they would be for the entire duration of the festival. And of course, how could I forget the weed? The way mi smoke so much weed, dem call mi the Most High...Even if the authorities don't admit it, the weed is one of the biggest attractions of Jamaica....tourism is about sun, sand, sea, sex...and ganga.
Back in its glory days, Sunsplash represented a relaxed beautiful time, when the annual reggae festival was the most wonderful place to be in Jamaica for one whole week. I hope that the organizers can bring back the original reggae vibe to the annual summer music festival. I am a dancehall star, but I can appreciate what reggae means to older fans before my generation, and I know they can't get the same positive vibrations overseas in California or wherever that they could get right here on the 'Rock..
The early days of Sunsplash was a time when Bob Marley competed actively for top spot and popularity with such equally famous musical greats as Peter Tosh, Jacob Miller, Third World, Burning Spear, Steel Pulse, and Fred Locks. From what I remember, as the years progressed, and dance hall as a genre showed that it had a distinct following that was totally different to the general rasta-oriented Sunsplash crowd, producers with an eye on the bottom line decided to branch out dancehall and give it a night of its own.
My greatest Sunsplash memory is of listening to Buju Banton and Ninjaman performing on Dancehall Night, I remember rewinding and rewinding the cassette, and listening to those magnificient performances, and from that time, I had a dream, a vision of being on stage, and performing at that high standard on a 'Reggae Sunsplash' stage as well. And that vision may 'galifest' this year, so I welcome the 'Splash's return, and hope that I can play my role in establishing the 'Splash, once again, as the premiere music festival in Jamaica.