Words and Photos by Martei Korley—
LargeUp doesn’t ordinarily report on stage shows but the event billed as “Sizzla Unplugged and Acoustics” was the artist’s first show in Jamaica since his much publicized bike accident last year. The fact that he would be supported by the original Firehouse Crew and Sly and Robbie made it apparent—we had to be there. The event also served as a launch of the Sizzla Youth Foundation, an ambitious charitable undertaking by the man himself seeking to uplift youth worldwide. It may surprise you to know that the first donation for same came from no other than Popcaan to the tune of $50,000 Jamaican dollars. Kudos for that!
Despite the event’s title, there was nothing unplugged about Sizzla’s performance. Rather, he pushed the acoustics of the venue to the limit with the help of some of the finest musicians around—and a slew of guests. He began his set working with the venerable and highly influential Firehouse Crew, arguably the hardest modern roots band. Sly and Robbie then traded places with Firehouse Crew’s Dusty and Danny Bassie, setting a new vibe as they segwayed through a number of classic riddims. Always one to stress the importance of education, Sizzla had singers from Papine High School Choir perform harmonies for songs like “Solid As A Rock.” Violinist Jessica Yap put in a good effort as well, while Lukie D straight mash up di place. Shaggy made a quick pass through, as did Jimmy Riley who sang a couple of his classics. Sizzla also took the time to answer questions from hostess/MC Empress. Among her trivia questions for Sizzla: “Sizzla, are you in love?” Sizzla: “I am always in love with a lady!” Empress: “Sizzla can you cook?”
As with any real performance of his, Sizzla Kalonji left the audience winded and begging for more. Scroll through the photos here and catch a few glimpses of this memorable night.