Words by Jesse Serwer, Photos by Varun Baker—
For dancehall fans, Christmas comes the day after the holiday. Or another holiday, to be precise. For the last 30 years, dancehall’s greatest spectacle, Sting, has gone on Dec. 26, better known as Boxing Day. This year’s anniversary edition, at JamWorld in Portmore, promised even more thrills than usual for the always action-packed Sting, with the return of Super Cat, a much-hyped clash between Lady Saw and Macka Diamond and performances from Wyclef, Mavado, Sizzla, Ninjaman, Aidonia and 2 Chainz, among others.
Sting regulars will tell you don’t bother coming until midnight, but those who arrived early were greeted with quality performances from Alkaline, Romain Virgo and others. Wyclef definitely showed he could control a Jamaican crowd, getting some of the biggest forwards of the night, both for his tunes and his chatter between songs. The Fugees founder even jumped into the crowd, boasting of his lack of security. In fact, he mixed with the crowd all night, climbing a pillar in front of the stage to watch Mavado’s set while conversing with fans. (For more on ‘Clef’s love for all things dancehall and Sting, watch our latest episode of LargeUp TV here).
This year’s roster was heavy on veterans, most notably Super Cat, making his first Jamaica appearance in over a decade, and Don Dada didn’t disappoint, looking dapper in a white suit and performing the bulk of his biggest tunes, from “Vineyard Party” to “Ghetto Red Hot.” The deejay, who has helped launched the careers of artists such as Shaggy and the Notorious B.I.G. over the years, lent the stage to 10-year-old deejay Wayne J, who shined in a brief cameo (look out for more on Wayne on LargeUp soon). Cat wasn’t the only veteran to lend his platform to the youth: both Ninjaman and Beenie Man included “mini me”s as part of their set. Both were also joined by Beenie’s former flame D’Angel, who climbed on stage from the crowd to add her flavor to their sets.
Sting is all about the clashes, though. The general consensus among many in attendance, as well as those who watched at home, was that the battle between Lady Saw and Macka Diamond was the night’s greatest moment. Provocatively dressed in a leather batty rider and black boots (more on that later in our upcoming style feature from Sting), Saw took the stage with a vengeance, freestyling for a good 15 minutes or so prior to the arrival of Macka Diamond (looking something like Major Lazer’s older sister in a red and leather suit and red beret) who she thoroughly dismantled in what will surely go down as Sting’s greatest female clash.
Hours later, as the sun rose, Kiprich and Blak Ryno went head to head in a clash with a cash prize of JA$3 million, or $30,000 U.S. By this time—about 6:30 a.m.—most had already gone home but the clash was the talk of Kingston the next day, as a victorious Blak Ryno put his name back on the map nearly five years after he was unceremoniously booted from Vybz Kartel’s Portmore Empire. Click here or hit the arrow above and below to travel through our gallery of highlights from the stageshow, and check out our behind-the-scenes look at the styles of Sting here.