By Olimatta Taal and CJ
Photos by: Carlington Wilmot
Over thirty thousand disciplined patrons attended the Best of the Best Reggae Concert held at the Miami Bicentennial Park in South Florida on May 27th, Memorial Day. It was a day of excitement, fun, and musical enjoyment for the entire family as some of the most dominant artist in the Reggae industry delivered set after set.
Best of The Best was hosted by a slew of veteran DJs like Papa Keith of Clear Channel's 103.5 The Beat, DJ Khaled of WEDR's 99 Jamz, Jabba from Hot 97 in New York, Super Twitch, and Chip Lee The Performer, to name a few. There was a combination of music from top Jamaican Sounds, DJs and selectors that kept the audience entertained in throughout the show. Even with an opening crowd of approximately 3,000, the show began on time, marking a big feat for this type of production that historically does not run on schedule.
Shifta and Niki B opened with a bang. Jovie Rockwell, fresh from her previous day's video shoot, rocked the crowd with her new hits. The concert continued, approaching its climax when Hip-Hop superstar Akon got on stage. Although many were disappointed with his early, sunshine performance, they still sang along with many number 1 hits like, No Body Want to See Us Together. The African rapper sent many female fans into a frenzy when he surprisingly jumped into the crowd and sang directly to them. Women seemed to be in ecstasy as they grabbed and held on to his statuesque body.
As expected, Lady Saw commanded the audience with a selection of her raw hits and compelling stage presence. Shaggy delivered hit after hit while Da'Ville swooned the ladies with his soothing voice.
One of the evening's highlights was Tony Matterhorn's gimmick, that saw him get on stage as, Mr. Mentally Ill, in a full white helmeted Martian suit, accompanied by a space themed sound track in the background, that indicated he was the "man from mars". The crowd reveled as the selector turned artiste delivered many number one hits including Dutty Wine and Goodas Fi Dem. The fans' enthusiasm was evident as they displayed a sea of dancing flags. Different Caribbean and African flags could be seen waving in the air.
Barrington Levy took the crowd down memory lane. He received many forwards from the attendees as they sang along to Too Experience, Murderer, Broader than Broadway, and other true Barrington Levy anthems. Munga Honorable made his mark as the newest dancehall sensation, dressed in a red, gold, and green hoodie. As he declared Me Bad From Me Born, the crowd clung on to every word.
Buju Banton's electrifying performance demanded a forward. In between his string of hit songs, Gargamel intrigued the audience with words of wisdom and inspiration. A strong combination of his harmonious backing singers and his strong baritone voice made the performance one to remember. The audience sang along as he belted out Driver, Murderer, Untold Story, Browning, Blackening, and many other Buju classics.
In true Caribbean style, as the night grew later, the crowd got more dense. By the time Capleton, The Prophet, blessed the stage the crowd had amassed past the vendors' location, spreading to the very back of the vast property. Dressed in royal silver and gold, King Shango burned a fire. Capleton displayed "the best of the best" as he took the audience back to the good old days of Dancehall in the early 90's. His love for the woman was evident as he performed a number of songs dedicated to them. The most memorable moment was a new song that he performed just for mothers. The passion and energy that was displayed in his set was impeccable.
The Bad Boy of dancehall, Elephant Man, delivered next. Recently signed to Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Label, the Energy God flexed his industry muscle by inviting Wyclef Jean on stage. They performed an unreleased duet. Delivering his standard gimmicks and stunts, Ele invited two big women on stage, picked up one of them and proceeded to gyrate, before flinging her across the stage in amusement. He also gave the Miami and International massive his usual pole climb. Whisking up to 24 feet in the air, while singing and entertaining the crowd as The True Energy God. In between songs, he made reference to not going back to his Hotel as there was a gay convention in town and many attendees were staying where all the Reggae artist were housed.
The show came to a grand finale with the Alliance Crew represented by Bounty Killer, Movado, and Wayne Marshall. The audience sang along to Gangsta For Life, Say Dem Can't, Chat Too Much, and other favorites as the crew bounced tunes from one to the other. The Warlord was in a great mood as he delivered his poor people and bad man anthems. He kept the warfare to a minimum. Although he gave a stellar performance many were still waiting on his classics like Fed Up and Cellular Phone. Wayne Marshall had the people singing out of the palm of his hands with Astronaut, I Forgot Dem, and other hits.
Although many patrons were outraged over the admission cost, VIP location and lack of organization, the show was a great feat overall. On another positive note, all 30,000 people in attendance from different parts of the Globe, united together under one vibration without incident. Each artist, vendor, staff and patron represented themselves as the Best of The Best.