Since the Reggae Sumfest brand was acquired by Downsound Entertainment’s Josef Bogdanovich two years ago, the festival format is turning away from having one night branded ‘Dancehall Night’ and another dedicated to reggae.
But breaking habits are hard. Though they are now dubbed ‘Festival Nights 1 and 2’, the notion remains. Based on ‘dancehall night’s’ billing – choked with hardcore and often explicit performers like Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Spice, Dexta Daps, Jahvillani, Squash or Chronic Law – a question has arisen: How will young acts Chronixx and Koffee – usually immediately categorised as reggae, roots, and culture entertainers – fare among a collection of dancehall stars?
“Koffee has the biggest song in dancehall right now, and Chronixx had one of the biggest dancehall songs last year with Likes. In my opinion, they both have a very high acumen in both genres. Chronixx started out in dancehall with Behind Curtain and Odd Ras , etc. He can reel off dancehall songs at his leisure, due to his talent, skill, and dexterity. Koffee has a global dancehall hit. No one else on the bill has a global dancehall hit. They are the best choices to include on a dancehall night,” Jason Panton, creative director and brand developer, told The Gleaner.
Koffee’s wildfire single, Toast, made its way around the world, popping up on film soundtracks and in performances of popular late-night talk shows. Earlier this week, the world’s youngest ‘self-made’ billionaire, Kylie Jenner, posted to her Instagram stories a frolic on the beach while listening to Koffee’s Rapture.
Music consultant Clyde McKenzie believes that Chronixx and Koffee’s wide appeal will keep them buoyant in the sea of more hardcore entertainers. “They are youthful; they are fresh and exciting. I don’t think they will have a problem. They are extremely talented and are able to hold their own.”
Pioneering record producer King Jammys will miss out on the performances, as he’ll be strapped into a studio session on Friday night. All the same, he is confident that Chronixx and Koffee’s presence will add some welcome, younger variety to a stage full of experience. “I think it’s going to be a balanced night. The experienced artistes will deliver as they always, and the rest will do the same.”
King Jammys is exponentially experienced himself. He produced music throughout the 1980s and 1990s with top reggae and dancehall acts like Chaka Demus, Admiral Bailey, the late great Dennis Brown, and many others. He is noted especially for producing the 1985 hit song Under Mi Sleng Teng by Wayne Smith – a song credited as being the first digital riddim, which opened the doors to the modern dancehall.
And Frankie Music, the producer responsible for producing the swanky track with a throwback feel, Koffee’s Ragamuffin, believes the two acts’ youthful appeal will offer something a little different to dancehall night.
“Koffee is a teen and Chronixx is still fairly young. They will work out, especially to be more appealing to the younger people in the audience,” he said.