Over the past 19 years, Reggae Sumfest has grown to become the “Greatest Reggae Show on Earth” and has played host to big stars from overseas as well. Three years ago, hip hop stars Lil Wayne and Birdman ripped the stage. Last year it was Chris Brown and Usher. And this year the headliners were supposed to be R. Kelly and Nicki Minaj. But Kells’ last-minute cancellation due to health issues left Nicki as the only overseas artist on the bill in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
And so, last Saturday night (July 23), she gave her first ever performance in Jamaica, rocking one of the toughest crowds in the world. She met the challenge with x-amount of musical ammunition—a medley of songs including solo hits “Moment 4 Life” and “Your Love” as well as multiplatinum features like “Bottoms Up” and “Monster.” Nicki thrilled the crowd with her “Bad Gyal Edition” of Gyptian’s “Hold Yuh.”
“It’s a pleasure to be here,” NIcki said in a backstage interview. “I honestly didn’t think I was gonna have this much fun, 'cause I didn’t think they were gonna know my songs.” Any such doubts were soon dispelled by the sound of 10,000 voices rhyming along with her word for word. “They gave me great energy,” she said after the show, fanning herself and smiling. “Seriously.”
Not only does Nicki shout out Tony Matterhorn’s dancehall hit “Dutty Wine” on her verse from Kanye West’s hit “Monster,” but her six dancers performed the popular Jamaican dance to perfection during an onstage interlude that also featured songs by Beenie Man and Bounty Killer. “We always have a reggae section in my show,” Nicki explained. “Even on the Britney Spears tour. Because I love Jamaican culture. I love dancehall music and I always have. Like, I grew up on that. I was born in Trinidad but I’m really from New York because that’s where I grew up. And in New York, we’re big in reggae. Like we really love reggae music. So since I was little I’ve loved Beenie Man and Lady Saw and Bounty Killer, and even the new people like Mavado and Vybz [Kartel]. You know? So it’s always been a part of me.”
“I had the time of my life at Sumfest,” Nicki tweeted after the show. “Jamaica I fell in love tonight.”
Unfortunately the Jamaican police force was not feeling the love. As Nicki exited the Sumfest venue, she was served with a summons for using profanity onstage—a criminal offense in Jamaica. In fact, Nicki’s Young Money label mate Drake ran into similar problems earlier this year while performing at a show in Portland, Jamaica. According to the Jamaica Observer newspaper, yesterday a representative forNicki pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a fine of $1000 Jamaican dollars, just under $12 in American currency. It’s a small price to pay for a legendary moment for life—Young Moolah, baby!
(Photo: Radcliffe Roye)
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