Jamaica’s annual Reggae Sumfest has long earned the bragging rights of being billed as “the Greatest Reggae Show on Earth,” bringing together reggae, dancehall, R&B and hip-hop greatness for three nights of bass-thumping shows that last into the sunrise hours. The blowing of air horns, turnt-up native Caribbean concertgoers, (adult) beverages and subtle clouds of marijuana smoke encapsulated a steaming hot feast of international chart-topping sensations.
Bringing American flavor to the fest, Jason Derulo served up some R&B swag, treating the crowd to a surprise duet with his personal leading lady, Jordan Sparks. Atlanta’s own hip-hop sensation (and Ciara fiancé) Future connected on an international level with the predominantly Jamaican audience, performing “Bugatti,” “Tap Out,” “Same Damn Time” and more. And the ganja-loving, always elevated Wiz Khalifa delivered an electrifying performance in the wee hours of the morning.
Over the past 22 years, Reggae Sumfest has always featured and headlined a healthy mix of international superstars—including Usher, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Miguel and Ne-Yo. This year’s lineup featured Jamaica’s own multiplatinum, Grammy-winning reggae star, Sean Paul. Filled with intoxicating energy, fans broke out their lawn chairs for an overnight dose of fireworks, food and drink.
Jamaican songstress Tessanne Chin (winner of NBC’s The Voice) brought the house down Saturday night for Reggae Sumfest. Beenie Man, Jah Cure, I-Octane, Ninja Man, Popcaan, Chronixx, Mr. Vegas, Nature, Jesse Royal, Shuga, Spice, Bounty Killer, Rojjah Mendez and dozens of others performed bass-thumping extended sets from Thursday to Saturday nights.
Kat Dahlia and The Wizard delivered a sharpshooting performance of “Mash It Up” that was a crowd favorite and a highlight of the entire weekend. Further exciting the audience, the duo served up a surprise cameo performance by the legendary Beres Hammond (father of Nastassja Hammond, a.k.a. The Wizard). The romantic lovers rock king gave the audience a taste of “Remember the Days” and “Rock Away,” evoking faint cries from the crowd and tears from more mature fans. Then the group’s remix of the latter sent the Sumfest atmosphere into a frenzy.
As usual, Jamaica’s largest reggae celebration included bikini-clad, very hospitable model types representing the Caribbean cellular network and Reggae Sumfest sponsor Digicel. The ladies served up endless amounts of Pepsi, Ting and chilled Adrenaline Rush energy drinks from the Digicel booth amidst a multitude of vendors and sponsor VIP areas.
Embracing an international audience, Sumfest 2014 hosted a sea of fans stretched across the multipurpose Sports Complex. Over 25,000 local and international patrons colorfully converged at the stadium for a dancehall- and reggae-soaked weekend of music and more fiyah.—Eeshé White