Wed | Jun 19, 2024

Happy ending for Sashi Live

Published:Tuesday | May 28, 2024 | 12:05 AMKwela Cole/Gleaner Writer
Internationally acclaimed R&B singer Ne-Yo performing at Sashi Live.
Internationally acclaimed R&B singer Ne-Yo performing at Sashi Live.
Fans at Sashi Live held on Saturday at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove, St Ann.
Fans at Sashi Live held on Saturday at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove, St Ann.

The last time the Sashi Experience, previously one of Jamaica’s most anticipated, large-scale music festivals, was held was 2002. Now, 22 years later, its founder, Horatio Hamilton, has brought it back to take place in Plantation Cove, St Ann, as a four-day event promising to wow patrons with grand affairs centering Sashi Live, the stage show that was to boast giants in the music industry both local and international, such as Ne-Yo, Busta Rhymes, Keyshia Cole, and Jadakiss alongside Bounty Killer, Tifa, Najeerii, Valiant, Skeng, and Tommy Lee Sparta.

This was to be a highlight of 2024, ushering in a new era of excellence for the long-slumbering Sashi, but a series of unfortunate events continued to take shape on Saturday, ultimately leaving patrons up to five hours after the advertised 4 p.m. start time, in a soaked, quiet, and dark venue disgruntled and demanding refunds.

American rapper Busta Rhymes, a headlining act and one of the performances driving Sashi marketing leading up to the music festival, announced via Instagram the cancellation of his set, giving no other reason further than “unforeseen circumstances”. Shortly after, the anticipated RnB powerhouse Keyshia Cole also dropped off the set-list, giving the same excuse. It was then that in another Instagram post, Busta Rhymes offered further apologies to disappointed fans saying, but adding the message:

“I just wanna say this real quick all of my beautiful Jamaican people big up oonu self but you gotta understand that we’re doing business and business needs to be done properly. We got families to feed, we got staff to pay and bills to pay…”.

By this point, it was well after 8 p.m. and attendees who had been queuing outside of the Plantation Cove festival grounds in preparation for a late-afternoon gate opening and early evening start time were steadily growing disgruntled. The Sashi Experience’s Hamilton, no doubt in efforts to manage his audience’s moods, released a statement around this time expressing his sincere apologies for the circumstances and ensuring a great presentation regardless, saying:

“We will miss them [the artistes] but Sashi is a legacy show deeply rooted in Jamaican culture. We are dedicated to building a festival that all Jamaicans can be proud of. The spirit of Sashi lives on through the energy and passion of our performers and fans.”


True to their adjusted 11 p.m. start time, host rapper and producer Wyclef Jean appeared on stage, and soon, the show began with upcoming artiste out of Las Vegas Shade followed by upcoming dancehall deejay Panic.

Nineties badness was in the house when Bounty Killer entered the stage amid much excitement from the screaming crowd, opening the block of main acts for the evening. He went into hits like the recent Slow Motion and classics like It’s A Party, Living Dangerously, and Look. In a post-performance interview, the dancehall legend spoke at length about the differences between Jamaican music festivals during his come-up as an entertainer versus now. Bounty Killer noted the role of technology in live-music spaces.

“Well, the most difference [between shows now and then] is that people hold up their phone instead of [being in the moment] ... They will scream, but they hold up the phone mostly … It’s similar, just we never had much things to distract us … People still love music, people still pay dem money to come. You see, it’s not cheap to come to these concerts … [Shows] looked more exciting on camera when you watch back in the days than today, too. So that’s the only difference … As I said, the people are enjoying themselves and then we took them back to the memory lane with a great ‘90s vibe,” Bounty Killer, whose real name is Rodney Price, said.

Jadakiss rocked the Sashi audience representing for hip hop, sharing the stage with Ne-Yo, and they performed their 2009 collab, By My Side. Jadakiss exited the stage leaving Ne-Yo to perform tracks like Miss Independent before entertaining the crowd with dance moves to dancehall deejay Vybz Kartel’s Romping Shop version.

Jadakiss shared that his focus as an international headliner was to represent for hip hop for a local audience.

“Oh, it’s nothing like it. You know, being at a big Jamaican festival and being one of the only hip-hop artistes invited, it’s an honour and a pleasure. It shows the love that they have for me, and, you know, I can only be thankful.”

Speaking about the reggae music he incorporated into his set, he said, “It’s always good and grateful to pay homage to the demographic that you’re at and show them that you respect the culture, you understand it, and you know ... so I think it’s only right you do that, and it seemed like they liked it, too.”

In a fiery show closing, hit after hit was shared by the new class of dancehall Skeng, Rahjah Wild, Valiant, Najeerii and others, as they performed favourites from their catalogue as well as their songs on Rvssian’s Dutty Money Riddim. Lumbah singer Valiant shared his excitement for the group performance, amplifying the new voice of dancehall.

“A nuh one full set mi a do. All of the new generation came out this year. We’re all going on stage. A nuh me alone a mek music nice,” Valiant said.

Patrons, though beginning the evening angry at Sashi’s many mishaps, would have left satisfied with the artistes who outdid themselves with their performances.