A press release from the Saint Lucia Tourist Board last week championing that Jamaican artiste Popcaan would be headlining the opening of the 2014 Saint Lucia Jazz festival, at first drew a snicker from me. But when I read further that the writer of the release had dared to connect the Jamaican act to Vybz Kartel, stating: “Once the protégé of one of dancehall’s most revered and controversial heralds, Vybz Kartel, Popcaan’s ‘Freshman Class’ of dancehall has revolutionized the genre…” This, message being broadcast to the world just two days after Kartel was sentenced to life in prison for murder, was simply beyond me. Not only was this to my mind poor judgment on behalf of the organizers, but clearly not much thought seems to have gone into the choice of Popcaan as a headline act.
First of all Popcaan’s “world boss,” Kartel, was barred by the Government of Saint Lucia from performing here some years ago. The decision was based, from everything I have heard, on his lyrical content, which was said to promote violence, mysogynistic behavior and lewdness. His “prodigy” is not much different. So why is taxpayers’ money being spent on bringing him to perform at a Government sanctioned event? If it was a private promoter then this would be a different matter all together.
Then there is the question of Popcaan as a “headline act.” From all I know in showbiz a headliner is supposed to be a major draw and should have a strong repertoire under his belt. From all indications Popcaan may be a strong attraction to the younger demographic of dancehall lovers, but as far as an extensive repertoire goes, that certainly is not the case. Added to all of this, the performer is not the “hottest ticket” in Dancehall these days, although some may choose to debate this. So this begs the question, was anything learnt from making another Jamaican dancehall performer, Konshens, the headline act in 2013. From all indications he did not end the show on a high, despite the record attendance last year.
Clearly, if any thought went into the line-up of the opening and organizers had their ears to the ground they would feel the rhythm of the song that is making waves and moving the limbs of young and old—the Trini jam“Too Real.”
Why Kerwin Dubois wasn’t chosen to headline the opening is beyond me. The soca performer is undeniably at the top of his game as the hottest Caribbean act on the market right now. Kerwin single-handedly turned Trinidad Carnival 2014 upside down and brought back sweet melodies to the music with crafty lyrics on songs like the aforementioned “Too Real,” “Spoil myself,” “Doh beg,” and “Forget about it.” Add to that a number of past hits like last year’s “Bacchanalist”, someone who can actually sing and you begin to see the possibility of a solid one-hour performance.
So that said, I can only add that the organizers goofed with the line-up of the opening of the 2014 Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival to be held on April 30 at Mindoo Phillip Park. But hey, maybe that’s a good thing because after taking in some good vibes from Mr. Killa, Ricky T, Mongstar, Skinny Fabulous, Carimi, EvaLucian and Arthur and Kerwyn Dubois, I think I’ll make my way home early to get some rest in time for the Soufriere lime on May 1 with legendary zouk band Kassav.
Now here’s a great headliner for you.