The past 10 years have been a roller coaster of wins and drags in Jamaican entertainment. From the rise of young artistes in rural areas, Govana ‘lucking’ up with a name change, celebs tying the knot, to high-profile artistes having run-ins with the law and Popcaan signing to Drake’s OVO Sound, there were definitely some moments that made you want to snatch your wig – even if you’re bald-headed like me.
Let’s revisit some of the biggest moments in Jamaican music this decade.
Lady Saw baptises
Muma Saw was always vocal about her spirituality in interviews, and in the years preceding her baptism in December 2015, she spoke about wanting to give her life to Christ. It was, however, at the funeral of singer J Capri that month that moved the raunchy performer to finally make the step to Christendom.
Now Minister Marion Hall, the entertainer has released two gospel albums; When God Speaks in 2016, which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Reggae Albums, and His Grace in 2018.
Vybz Kartel sentenced to life in prison
After a 65-day trial, a jury found Vybz Kartel guilty of the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, and the ‘World Boss’ was sentenced to life in prison in April 2014. One of his co-accused, deejay Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell was also given life imprisonment and will have to serve 25 years before being eligible for parole. Kartel is to serve 35 years before parole eligibility, even though an appeal is currently at an ‘advanced stage’ after his legal team claimed an unfair trial based on evidence and jury tampering.
Despite his imprisonment, the Portmore Empire principal has managed to secure his presence with consistent party bangers, and it also helps that his music continues to top YouTube streams.
Ninja Man given life imprisonment for murder
Veteran toaster and clash king Ninja Man was sentenced to life in prison in December 2017, for the 2009 murder of Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Trooper. He will be eligible for parole after serving 25 years, but the entertainer also received 20 years for shooting with intent so the sentences will run concurrently. One of his co-accused is his son, Jahneil Ballentine, who was also handed a life sentence and will have to serve 15 years before becoming eligible for parole.
Buju comes home
Buju Banton was ‘freed from Babylon’ in December 2018, after spending close to a decade at the United States-based McRae Correctional Facility on drug-related charges. The reggae singer was welcomed home by scores of fans along Palisadoes and the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston. His release was supported by a mega-concert at the National Stadium in March and kicked off his global Long Walk to Freedom tour. The ‘Gargamel’ has also released new music including Trust, and he appeared on DJ Khaled’s song Holy Mountain. He now forms part of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label.
Koffee becomes youngest Jamaican to earn Grammy nod
Koffee has been a hot topic for the past year and her being the youngest Jamaican to cop a Grammy nomination adds to the conversation. The 19-year-old is nominated for Best Reggae Album for her Rapture EP, which features her international hit Toast.
Spice makes social media history
Queen of the stage Spice made social media history in January 2018 as the first female Jamaican artiste to hit one million followers on Instagram. More than a year later the singjay struck two million followers, making her the most followed living Jamaican artiste on Instagram.
Dalton Harris and Tessanne Chin for the win!
Two of Jamaica’s most impressive singers, Dalton Harris and Tessanne Chin, put Jamaica on the world stage when they won international talent competitions.
Harris, who had won the Rising Stars competition in 2010, stole the hearts of the British audience when he entered X Factor, and won in December 2018. He earned a recording contract with the Sony-owned Syco Music, and became a global sensation overnight, sought by news outlets like BBC, Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror.
The fanfare was similar when Tessanne Chin won The Voice in December 2013, after weeks of slaying our lives with her powerhouse vocals. Not only did she get to work with Adam Levine and sing with her idol Celine Dion, she also won US$100,000 and a recording contract with Universal Music Group. The singer recently got hitched and is expecting her first child.