Review: Chris Brown gave an outstanding performance, Aidonia excited the audience, Teejay, Valiant and Gramps Morgan also delivered while the younger generation got their chance on the big stage. A glimpse of this iconic moment for the Dancehall’s Culture
Chris Brown, the BZR Weekend was an unforgettable experience for Jamaica (Jamar Cleary, Ace Pxl)
The anticipation and excitement across the city of Kingston on Sunday, August 27, 2023, was palpable. Music enthusiasts from all over the island and the diaspora made their way to Independence Park at the National Stadium in Kingston to witness the musical escapade of a lifetime.
There was so much controversy surrounding the event based on the ticket prices and many skeptics wondered if it would live up to the anticipation but the undeniable reality is that it did.
The performances at the Chris Brown and Friends Concert began with iconic Reggae crooner Gramps Morgan gracing the stage with a spiritual and uplifting performance. Promising young act Jquan also pulled good ‘early forward’ with his spirited performance of his summer anthem "Choppa Gospel". Acts like Byron Messia and Bayka also garnered impactful responses from their respective hits.
There was indeed a theme of nationalism and Jamaican pride that was being cerebrally positioned throughout the concert. Upon entrance, patrons were gifted Jamaican flags, as foreshadowing for the introduction of one of the performances of the night which was l that of Ding Dong Ravers.
Similar to Chris Brown, Ding Dong emerged onto the music scene in the early 2000s and should be extolled for remaining relevant for almost two decades in dancehall. He is truly a multigenerational talent and his performance was culturally awe-inspiring to say the least. He and the entire Ravers family entered the stage on a wooden, hand cart branded with Jamaica flags all over.
The cultural symbolism of the hand cart is deeply embedded in the desire for social mobility and progress which are core nationalistic values that fuel the indomitable Jamaican spirit. Slewing through a series of dance hits across over 10 years of consistency, Ding Dong and the Raverz family delivered a mesmeric performance that was befitting of the high-energy occasion.
The mental fortitude Sheldon ‘Aidonia’ Lawrence possesses, has been a major contributing factor to the consistency of his high-quality performances over the years. Aidonia is another iconic dancehall artist approaching the 20-year mark of sustainability in his contribution to the genre, and his performance depicted the experience of a seasoned veteran.
Starting off with commanding dancehall hits like "Trigger Work It" and "Banga" got the stadium in a frenzy but the sequence of classic girls songs was well received by his adoring female fans. Dancehall artists and Jamaica men in general have often been labelled as ‘players’ who are emotionally unstable and highly incapable of monogamy but the love story of Aidonia and his wife Kim is a heartwarming and admirable one, which gives hope to many.
The couple announced that they are expecting a new child which raised an emotionally charged furor across the stadium. The couple recently lost a child in December of 2023 and we salute them for their valor, to resume the journey of parenting despite the painful loss of prior.
We salute Aidonia and his wife Kim on resuming the journey of parenting (Jamar Cleary)
Continuing the theme of nationalism, the Uptop Boss, Teejay started his set with a heart-felt rendition of the Jamaican national anthem which captivated the audience as they sang along to every word. From there he seamlessly transitioned into his barrage of hits starting such as "Drift" , "Ragz to Riches", "Uptop Boss" and "Owna Lane" to name a few.
International superstar Sean Kingston was evidently happy to be home and his energetic performance of his impactful catalogue of hits had the crowd of 30,000 persons in a trance. Crowd favorites like "Mi Love", "Take You There" and "Dutty Love" established a strong opening to a stellar and ambassadorial display by Sean Kingston.
His decision to bring out former label mate Tommy Lee Sparta was one of calculated brilliance because despite his legal woes, Tommy Lee Sparta also lasted the test of time musically and he celebrates almost 15 years in dancehall since his breakout single Warn Dem in the mid-2000s. Tracks like "Under Vibes", "Buss A Blank" and "Some Bwoy" all caused eruption for the enthusiastic audience. Sean Kingston closed his set with his record-breaking single Beautiful Girls on which he displayed incredibly vocal ability, in his acapella rendition of the timeless record.
Welcomed by Chris Brown on stage (Jamar Cleary)
The expectations on the shoulders of Chris Brown were enormous but that is no unfamiliar territory for the undisputed King of R&B. The stage design, sound design and lighting elements introduced into the production of his set was unprecedented for a Jamaican concert.
The fluidity of the graphics and the interactive 3D elements in his screen displays was equally as mesmerizing as his vocal performance and dancing. The hearts of his adoring female fans, swooned with every word and every dance move. His set was sequenced perfectly and the section dedicated to the early years of his career was arguably the most emotive and nostalgic for the audience. Songs like "With You", "Gimme That" and "Wall to Wal"l reminded us of the gift Chris Brown has been to our music libraries for two decades.
The R&B sensation could do no wrong in the eyes of the crowd and all his hits from every era of his career were revived with adulation. Chris Brown and his team have raised the standard of concert production in Jamaica and massive congratulations are due to Solid Agency, The VEW Empire and Jay Upscale for outing this monumental project together.