All was intact for the 5th Annual NJ Reggae Fest in Newark, New Jersey. Credited with being one of the best lineups for 2005, G-City Entertainment and Parker Music Productions went overboard to bring forth “Jammin’ in the Sun” by bringing high caliber veterans like Ken Boothe, John Holt, Brigadier Jerry, Half Pint, and Sugar Minott. The younger audience wasn’t left out–Bounty Killer, Sizzla, Buju Banton, Assassin, and Macka Diamond all performed from the dancehall scene.
The show started late due to a venue change from Military Park to the bigger S & S Community Center, which also caused a slight drop in attendance. As the crowd slowly built, the more people were showing signs of frustration because of the late start. Slighty after 6:00 pm, Dahved Levy got on the stage and got things rolling. Inspector Gadget, Ky-enie, and Sadiki, all gave credible performances to warm up the crowd. They took more to Ky-enie‘s style as he got the audience involved with his stage performance. The momentum began to build. With the Linkage band getting the early honors, all was in tune for “Legends in Action”.
All were at attention when Brigadier Jerry made his way on stage. His introduction got everyone screaming as he took the helm and did what he does best. Starting with the signature hit “Jamaica Jamaica”, he wrote the book of what was to come. The crowd was begging for more as he gave them a belly full of hits and left the stage with everyone feeling “Irie”.
Sugar Minott graced the stage with his youthman production style. He was given an encore on his first tune and continued to keep the fans dancing and singing to his melody of hits. From “Vanity” to “Herbman Hustlin”, the veteran tore the place down while taking us on a musical journey. He was later joined on stage by his lovely daughter and artist Fire Pashon. She stated that she is the real fire woman and demonstrated that with her performance. Both left the stage to huge cheers and appreciation.
Mr. Rocksteady was not to be outdone. Ken Boothe was at his best for his loving fans as he gave them everything he owned from a lyrical standpoint. Looking sharp in his attire and always smiling, this man doesn’t seem to age with time. His smooth ballads were enough to make any woman cheat on their lover. He went from “Everything I Owned” to “Moving Away” with the greatest of ease. The crowd thickened and was satisfied as he left the stage.
The former leader of the Paragons was next in line. John Holt has been giving us great music for over forty years. Being a true legend himself, he delivered all the goods from his music catalogue. From “Stealing” to “If I Were a Carpenter”, we were all singing along to his legendary hits. Even the earlier artists appreciated his musical efforts as he proudly exited the stage.
Things could only get better as time was creeping away. Half Pint knew exactly what to do when he was introduced. His signature hit “Greetings” garnered him many encores. He continued to spread the love with “Winsome”, “One big family”, “Crazy”, “Mr. Landlord”, and more. The complex was burning with excitement as Half Pint pelted out more hits and kissed his audience goodbye.
After a brief intermission and band change, we saw some serious dance sessions and tribute to the late Mr. Wacky (Bogle). Ding Dong, Boyzie, Sponge Bob, and Coppa, treated the crowd to some real “passa passa”dancing. Nonetheless, it was back to showtime.
The best lyrical artist in Reggae right now was ready for action. Sizzla is known for causing much controversy with his lyrical prowess. He entered the stage to one of the biggest cheers of the night. He immediately set the place on fire with his sharp and witty tunes. His aim was to burn all nasty living among certain people who were fighting his career by imposing a ban on some of his songs. Sizzla wanted all of mankind to live upright and he wanted to show the youths the proper way to trod. After a barrage of top hits, he introduced the warlord to join the fun.
Bounty Killer, in his all black attire, set the parking lot off with pure excitement. Who would have ever thought seeing Bounty and Sizzla in unity? Bounty took charge and started the verbal onslaught aimed at backward living by certain men. This was met by several encores. He reeled off a barrage of hits which turned the place upside down. Things only got better for the fans–Bounty proceeded by introducing the Gargamel.
Buju Banton came out in full force as the place erupted. He continued the excitement as all three giants took turns to please every fan in the crowd. The Banton gave us both old and new hits and then let certain people who were protesting his lyrics know how he really felt. Bounty and Sizzla followed with lyrics of their own.
Many thought that it was over until Buju called up rising star Assassin. The Red Square member catapulted his way to the front and had all the ladies screaming to “Dem Don’t Like You”. He uttered “Idiot Ting” with great joy as the crowd joined him. Assassin then called Macka Diamond to the stage.
All we needed to hear was “Money Ooohh.” The ladies were quite please with her lyrics; afterall, it’s telling them to defend money first in a relationship. All five trailblazers went back and forth to heighten the energy level of the audience. Everyone was in great spirits as time ran out, but it was worth every penny. It was a tremendous show. Even I-Wayne was backstage enjoying the socializing with the other artists. Big ups to G-City, Parker Music, all sponsors, and Don P promotions for a job well done.