10. Discovering lots of talented artists
Rototom is a place that you leave musically enriched; so many artists perform there that it is impossible to know everyone. What is possible though is discovering new artists to listen to. Our best discoveries this year were Cafe Touba, The Delegators, Nou Vin Lakay and Soweto.
9. Midnite’s deep consciousness
We were hit by the deep consciousness of Midnite’s lead vocalist, Vaughn Benjamin, from his appearance at the Reggae University the day before their show, and when the full band stepped on stage we could feel that this consciousness was deeply inside their music. Their cool and calm style took a bit to catch us but when it did we found ourselves grooving with the bassline for an unforgettable session.
8. Anthony B echoing tunes from The Beatles
Patrons at Rototom were eagerly awaiting the return of Anthony B to a Festival that is, in his own words, “almost my own Festival”. Anthony B’s show was full of energy and passion with many highlights; one of which was without any doubt his version of Imagine. A sea of lighters accompanied him while honouring The Beatles and his class and braveness in adding his lyrics to song the made this part of his show even more special.
7. Shaggy’s showmanship
Shaggy is one of those artists that is able to keep any audience in the palm of his hands and bring it anywhere he wants. Beside the music, which was obviously high standard with a big band and three backing voices, what made Shaggy’s performance impressive was the quality of the entertainment. The hilarious speeches were uncountable, but among those two stood out: “Security, I’m not responsible for what is going to happen now” before dropping Church Heathen and “There will be no murder tonight, the worst thing that can happen is that a couple of girls get pregnant, and in that case…it wasn’t me!” just after his DJ played Damian Marley’s Welcome To Jamrock.
6. Jah9’s Rastafarian trance
When Janine ‘Jah9’ Cunningham arrived on stage reading passages from the Wise Words of Haile Selassie and then introducing Warning saying “Tonight is not a jiggy night, tonight is Rastafari!” we all felt that something special was happening. Backed by the always on point Dubtonic Kru, she delivered one of the most intense performances of this year’s Festival, leaving everyone asking for more. Watch out for Jah9, she has an amazing path in front of her and we are sure she will keep on surprising and moving us.
5. The grace of Ms. Lauryn Hill
Everyone had extremely high expectations for Lauryn Hill’s show and the Lady of Hip Hop didn’t disappoint. After a difficult start with a few technical difficulties, Ms. Hill recovered greatly, first a few acoustic tunes (among which Turn Your Lights Down Low stood out for quality) and then set a totally different pace to her show with the Fugees’ classics, a few Bob Marley’s covers and her big bomb That Thing. History was certainly made in Benicassim.
4. Addis Pablo and Ras Jammy putting the Dub Academy on fire.
The Dub Academy was one of our favourite places of the Festival and we witnessed so many great sessions, among which is worth remembering the Dub Files Project, Mikey General & Iration Steppaz and African Simba all on the massive Blackboard Jungle sound system. But having to choose one we definitely can’t forget the quality show that the Suns of Dub (aka Addis Pablo and Ras Jammy) put up that saw the presence of Kabaka Pyramid, Micah Shemaiah, Infinite and Exile Di Brave. There’s a new wave of talented artists coming out of Jamaica, keep your eyes and ears open!
3. Alpha Blondy addressing the Gaza situation
What an artist with such class! Alpha Blondy was the first one to openly talk about Gaza at Rototom, first in the press conference answering our question with these words: “I’m against war, and I’m against the bombing of Gaza and I’m against the launching of rockets on Israel. I deeply think that there’s the time for the Palestinian and Israeli authorities to find a solution and to stop the bloodshed that have been going on for too long, for seventy years […] peace is a must. Peace today is an obligation!”. Then stepping on stage opening his show with Jerusalem, and talking again about Gaza with Crime Spirituel and Peace in Liberia.
2. Chronixx sharing the stage with Jah9 and Jesse Royal
Chronixx much anticipated Rototom debut was already an event in itself, but what made it extra special was the presence on stage of a few Reggae Revival’s fellows. First was Kabaka Pyramid, who entered the stage on Mi Alright and performed also Selassie Souljahz, then, after a few solo songs by Chronixx, the ZincFence band dropped the Rootsman Riddim. Chronixx’s own Here Comes Trouble wasn’t enough and he called on stage first Jesse Royal and then Jah9 for their cuts of the riddim. The image of these three young rising artists sharing the stage together remained as a vivid image of the unity of this movement. And the highlight of the moment was then reiterated by Jah9 talking with us: “It is good when we are together because what we as youths in Jamaica in Reggae music are doing together has never been seen in history”.
1. Busy Signal show from beginning to end
Someone next to us said, while Busy was performing, ‘He killed every style!’ and there’s no better way to define the powerful show that Busy Signal put up at Rototom 2014. From the entrance on the notes of Step Out to the closing tune Bumaye, Busy brought us on a journey that showed how good much he has evolved over the years. His energetic bashment segment was followed by the one drop of Reggae Music Again and he managed, like no one else after him did, to keep the vibe always alive. Plus, we could feel how much he was enjoying his performance and that made it even better to witness.