Pon Di Wire: Dancehall TV, New Riddims and Did Sting '07 Flop?

The past week was all about the drama and rae-rae at Guinness Sting ’07, and live Christmas concerts in general in Jamaica. Thankfully, OutARoad kept things in perspective with their humorous best dressed artists at the Sting round-up. Who was top-a-top in the dancehall threads category? Come on, you knew it had to be Ninjaman!

This year’s Sting was panned by critics and fans as a “standard” show that lacked both the presence of dacnehall king Bennie Man, as well as its famed head-to-head DJ clash. Of course, the 50 other artists on the bill soldiered on, and Bounty Killer did his best to ignite the crowd. Closing group Portmore Empire (Vybz Kartel, Deva Brat, Earthworm, and Aidonia), although full of talent and promise, didn’t have the history or hits to keep the majority of fans jumping or flame-throwers blazing.

Are you ready for a dancehall Dancing With the Stars? Jamaican TV will begin its first season of Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall, a show that will cover Jamaica to find the island’s most well-rounded dancehall male and female act. But wait–it's not gonna take just good looks and a wicked Dutty Wine to be crowned: Kings and Queens encompasses all dancehall aspects, including the history, culture, and nature of the genre. According to promoter Natalie Parboosingh, "We want to show that it is not only about music and being on stage, but [that] it's also a movement and a lifestyle that uses fashion, comedy, and dance to set itself apart from other forms of musical expression."

Jamaica’s annual Christmas/New Year riddim rush is on, with all the big labels firing off tunes for the crucial end of '07 early '08 period. This is when the big tunes for the first half of the year are established, and tell fans which artists a “fall off,” and which a “fall up.” We kick things off with Germany-based label Pow Pow’s Follow and Ruff & Tuff riddims, which feature tracks by Anthony B, Jah Mason, Norris Man, and Elijah Prophet. Also on the roots tip, Tuff Gong studio’s excellent Rebel Tune riddim features great singles from Determine, Richie Stephens, and Stephen Marley. Don’t miss this one. Cut Stone’s Ryme Stone riddim showcases cultural fare by Capleton and Chezidek. The great Fat Eyes imprint brings forth the Midnight Hour one-drop riddim (the backing for Tarrus Riley’s smash track, “Protect Your Neck”) with Warrior King and others. For dancehall fans, Stephen “Di Genius” McGreggor’s Big Ship label has a slew of new riddims pon road, including the Beehive, Darker Shadow, and Bullet Him sets, featuring Busy Signal, Mavado, Wayne Marshall, Bounty Killer, and Vybz Kartel. Ragga fans should also check Pure Music’s Shoota and TJ Record’s Skandal Bag riddims.

Mr. Easy’s forthcoming Sean Nizzle–produced single, “Sweet Jamaica,” is a slow-paced, melodic song that has potential to be Jamaica’s next anthem. A video for the track, which pays tribute to the island’s wonders and longs for a return to peace, is slated for early '08.

The editors at Holland’s Reggae Vibes recommend Pressure’s sophomore album, Love And Affection (VP), calling it “an absolute must for all lovers of Don Corleon's one-drop and lovers productions.“ They also rate the new hardcore dancehall riddim' set Gangsta Gangsta.

In time for Valentine’s Day 2008, VP Records will release the Sweet Love compilation on February 12, featuring lovers rock music by Sanchez, Da’ville, Roger Robin, Lloyd Brown, Pam Hall, George Nooks, and Tony Curtis. The latest from The Messenger Luciano (pictured above), Jah Is My Navigator also drops on that date. March brings Elephant Man’s Lets Get Physical (a co-release with Bad Boy) and the compilation This Is Nu Rootz, with cuts from Sizzla, Richie Spice, Duane Stephenson, Tanya Stephens, and Tarrus Riley. Finally, April releases on VP include Morgan Heritage's Mission In Progress and Etana’s Strong One.

The Rockers Inna Di Yard Tour will feature reggae’s premier guitarist and bandleader Earl ‘Chinna' Smith and legendary singer Kiddus I (both in the 1970s reggae movie Rockers and will take place at the Dub Club in L.A. on Wednesday, January 23. Other So Cal dates to follow.

Richie B on Hot 102 FM Jamaica's Top Ten Dacnehall Singles
1. Busy Signal “Nah Go A Jail” (Jam 2)
2. Sean Paul “Pick It Up & Drop It” (Birchill)
3. RDX “Everybody Dance” (Apt 19)
4. Buju Banton “Tell Dem Don't Follow” (Heart of Love)
5. Assassin “Dem A Sissy” (Don Corleon)
6. Vybz Kartel “Empire Army” (Big Ship)
7. Macka Diamond “Dandy Shandy” (Birchill)
8. Beenie Man feat Barbee “Give It Up” 357)
9. Mavado “Squeeze Har Breast” (H20)
10.Munga “Wine Pon It/Talk To Me” (Casper)