Dancehall Emperor honoured after amazing set
Adrian Frater, News Editor
Western Bureau:With a performance that earned him a double encore, veteran dancehall star Shabba Ranks ended his 11-year-long hiatus from the Jamaican stage in Montego Bay on Friday night, rolling back the clock with an unforgettable performance on International Night One of Reggae Sumfest 2012.
Striding purposefully to centre stage against the backdrop of exploding fireworks at approximately 2:36 a.m., the two-time Reggae Grammy Award winner, clad smartly in black and white, promptly took control, belting out his trademark intro, "a me man ... big dutty, stinking Shabba Ranks."
Shabba started the sparkling journey down memory lane with much gusto, wrapping his big, booming voice around the song, Get Up, Stand Up And Rock, which sent the decibel level in the venue skyward. The tempo remained at fever pitch as he masterfully unleashed, Peenie Peenie, X-Rated, Halla fi B__dy, Womb Turner and Bed Wuk, without skipping a beat.
With trademark dance moves and sexually suggestive gyrations adding extra life to his performance, the crowd became Shabba's willing choir, sometimes taking over, leaving the master deejay rocking his head from side to side in unison with the pulsating instrumental support, grinning with obvious satisfaction.
As the performance intensified, Shabba was forced to strip off his perspiration-soaked jacket, the energy levels leaving him soaking wet.
As the veteran star jumped and pranced around the stage, the magic that made him dancehall's hottest commodity in the 1990s was obvious in every step he took.
Hits like, Wicked Inna Bed, Gal Yu Good and the unofficial dancehall anthem, Love P....ny Bad, were delivered with such expert authority that had the set ended there, some fans would have accepted Shabba's exit when he declared, "me gone yah man".
However, the vast majority of the crowd was far from ready to see him go and they made it absolutely clear with resounding screams of "Shabba ... Shabba .... Shabba" and "More ... More ... More!"
As was expected, Shabba returned to the stage, taking up where he had left off, belting out the song, Oil Up All A De Gun Dem.
After taking time out to remind the fans of his loyalty to Jamaica, despite being away for so long, Shabba again reminded all and sundry of his awesome musical repertoire, taking command and masterfully dishing out, Just Reality and Roots and Culture, with consummate ease.
Shabba's performance reached its zenith when he invited sexy songbird Cherine Anderson to join him onstage for songs he had recorded with other female artistes. Together, they all but flattened the venue, both in terms of lyrics, charisma and dazzling stagecraft.
Songs like, Telephone Love, Mr Lover Man, Twice My Age and Gal Yu Pretty, were all done against a sensuous background as both artistes engaged in provocative byplay, which really went down well with the fans.
After taking another time out to explain that he had not been wasting time in America but was busy building a solid support structure for his family, Shabba again went musical, rocking powerfully with No Pet, No Powder and Deejay School, and then exited the stage for a second time.
Like they did before, the happy crowd demanded more and Shabba again responded with a second encore.
With his shirt now off, exposing rippling muscles, the seemingly satisfied star finally closed the show, belting out more trademark hits like, None a Dem, Trailer Load and Ting a Ling a Ling.
Following his performance, Shabba was called back to the stage for a special Jamaica 50 award presentation from the promoters and the Government of Jamaica.
The Dancehall Emperor used the opportunity to introduce his wife Michelle and his two grown sons to the crowd.
Tears welled up in his eyes as he spoke glowingly of the academic accomplishments of his sons.
"This a wha mi de a foreign a do," said Shabba, basking in the success of his children.