A few hours before Usain Bolt shattered his 100m world record on Sunday, Bounty Killer and Mavado tested the limits of the dancehall sound barrier at Jamworld, Portmore, St Catherine.
Their performance, like many others at Champions in Action which had a long line-up, was short and the two did only a few lines of their songs. However, the frenzy they created, especially after the boos which had met Beenie Man some minutes earlier, was phenomenal.
From Bounty Killer’s explicit instruction to turn up the microphone, a high pitched “good morning” and deep voiced “people dead!” the crowd was in a frenzy. When he hit the stage in the morning sun, dressed in full black, and hit the first line of Gun No Stick, it was impossible to hear the rest as the crowd roared louder than the sound system at Jamworld. Bounty Killer came closer to the audience on the lower level of the stage, still deejaying, then there were more screams as Mavado stepped out to do lines from Real McKoy and Full Clip.
Again there was pandemonium which continued as the two alternated lyrics, the frenzy sustained right through to the end at 7:42 a.m., Mavado doing Mockingbird before calling on one of his artistes who declared “I’m next from the gully”.
“Mi general, yu fan dem loyal to de en’,” Mavado commented at one point, then observing musically “a nuh sey dem waan tump me ina mi face but di fool dem cyaa”.
no fren fish
And although he did not call any names, after deejaying “man a bad man so man nuh fren’ fish” matters of loyalty were also on Bounty Killer’s mind. “How dem fi disrespect bad man an go par wid fish? Dem bway deh a queer!” he said.
The most likely targets of the comment would have been Vybz Kartel and Beenie Man, Kartel calling on his ‘uncle’ Beenie Man after doing Last Man Standing. Handclaps started as they were doing Breast Specialist and while Kartel went on to deliver his lyrics to excellent response, Beenie Man was booed repeatedly.
And before them Assassin earned the audience’s heartfelt respect. He said with a recession on people had to get a performance for their money and did not take any shortcuts from commanding “don’ make me hol’ yu” through to Priority and requesting “Almighty protect me”, building up to Pree Dis in between for a genuine forward. When he asked “who pay dem money an com in and sey Assassin work good mek me see yu han'” a forest of hands reached for the morning sky and there was respectful, appreciative applause when he left the stage.
On a night which, typically of Champions in Action, was orderly, there were clear segments, the live performances progressing from the relatively new artistes (Copper Cat and Atomic and Ras Fraser making inroads) to the veterans (John Holt led a singalong, in particular to Police in Helicopter), then better known but still newer artistes (Cutty Corn was on home ground with his lyrics about popular West Kingston personalities – mostly dead – and Atteru’s Heart of Love beat strongly.
Pamputae and Spice did not perform back to back but were similar in approach, although Pamputae was by far rawer. Gee Whizz sorted out the crowd with his opening declaration “life soon sort out”, though his two-song showing could hardly be called a performance.
The Portmore Empire was greeted with delight and Blak Ryno (“we beat it like a slave”) and Jah Vinci particularly having a good night, the former rebuilding the ‘vibe’ when one Empire member was booed after a clumsily delivered Shebada reference.
I-Octane came before the run of Rastafarian performers and put on an unleaded showing, comforting “mama you alone” to amply justify his welcome. I-Wayne interspersed Book of Life and Lava Ground with extended lyrical ‘teachings’ against immorality, while Capleton included the Ice Age and swine flu in his fiery material in one of those ‘touch and go’ showings that ended with an extended a capella.
In the morning run, Queen Ifrica and Sizzla were among those who squeezed in mostly a line or two of their songs, the inevitable time constraints obvious. They were still, particularly Sizzla, appreciated.
And Ifrica said “me do a song whe day an’ all of a sudden me hear me an Addi (Vybz Kartel) a war. How me an Addi fi war? A music we say fi life,” Ifrica said, adding that she is defending the little girls.
Flippa Mafia eventually tossed out money as the women up front demanded although he said he did not want to cause a stampede at the ‘President’s’ show.
The announcement that Wyclef Jean would not perform did not have a perceptible impact on the audience. MC Sample Man dropped jokes, Nuffy and Empress also hosting, with Ruff Kut playing for all the performers except Bounty Killer and Mavado. Razz and Biggy blended old and new songs to very good effect, Stone Love and Swatch the other sound systems for the night.