Dancehall / Feature

Dave Kelly Tribute At Reggae Sumfest Puts 90s Dancehall In Focus

Beenie Man Baby Cham

90s Dancehall is back in focus after fans witness some of the biggest names from that era put on a tribute performance for legendary producer Dave Kelly.

It was only fitting that one of the greatest producers of dancehall was honored at the Greatest Reggae Show on Earth. The artists who came together delivered a stirring performance as they paid homage to living legend Dave Kelly, arguably the most sought-after producer of the 80s and 90s.

Most dancehall fans will know that he was instrumental in helping shine a light on some of the veterans of the genre who themselves were able to showcase their talent because of his unique beats. The tribute was held on the final night of performances at Reggae Sumfest at Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre in Montego Bay into the wee hours of yesterday morning.

Some of dancehall’s biggest names came together to show appreciation for his hand in their careers. The crew that came together included Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Baby Cham, Spragga Benz, Frisco Kid, Wayne Wonder, and Mr. Easy.

The performance was well received by those who had gathered as the unmistakable beats that made dancehall blossom into the genre it is, filled the arena and was accompanied by some electrifying performances as well. The renowned producer also had a hand in the tribute as he did the choreography for the set.

Among the iconic and nostalgic hits that were belted out at the location included rhythms like Medicine, Showtime, Bruk Out, Fiesta, Haunted, Stink and Murderation. Each time a rhythm began, the energy level was increased, and fans were thrilled with an accompanying stellar performance as they were transported to a time when dancehall resonated with the masses and the messages all seemed to fit.

The King of Dancehall Beenie Man would not be left out of the spotlight and, during his high-energy performances, found time to also have three costume changes for the set as he dropped some die-hard favorites like “Ole Dog” and “Wickedest Slam.”

Of course, when Bounty Killer took the stage, it was a frenzy. His piercing vocals glided on some famous beats to create the perfect recreation of what many consider the best era of dancehall to date. He delivered timeless tracks like “Can’t Believe Mi Eyes,” “Poor People Fed Up,” and “Look Into My Eyes.”

Cham, who promised last week that he and Bounty would destroy the stage, came good on his word and delivered his set, which also had the crowd jumping in a frenzy. He covered some of his classics, including tracks like “Vitamin S,” “Ghetto Story,” and “Joyride.”

The other performers, including Frisco Kid, Spragga Benz, Wayne Wonder, and Mr. Easy, all delivered electrifying performances. None of the artists disappointed the audience, and the entire crew understood the assignment. For many, the comradery of all the artists on stage was also a remarkable achievement considering many of them rose to fame through clash culture.

Staying true to his nature, Kelly remained backstage, taking in the show, and refused any attempt at coming on stage to receive any praise.

Following the performance, Cham spoke with the Observer and explained that the tribute was about giving Dave his flowers and showing the super-producer just how special he is and how much dancehall artists appreciate him.

“Joe and the whole Sumfest team came up with the idea, Dave accepted it; he wrote the set from start to finish so you have to really give Dave his credit because he is the one who envisioned this show like this,” he added.

Cham said that he was most impressed with how the crowd received and loved the performances even as the sun came up.

The publication also spoke with Wayne Wonder, who described the set as a current flowing through all the artists. He added that it was reminiscent of how they were in the studio.

Meanwhile, the Star spoke with another icon of the 90s era, Tony Rebel, who said it was time for 90s dancehall to get the respect it deserves.

“When you go abroad these are the songs or this is the era people want and love to hear. So Jamaica as the factory, supposed to support it and give it more respect. Put more respect on 90s music, especially disc jockeys, they need to play more of these songs, not only for throwback events,” he added.