Promoters of Jamaica’s notoriously rowdy Sting dancehall concert have promised to keep it peaceful this year. “Last year’s Sting was incident-free and we intend to continue that trend,” Howard McIntosh of Supreme Promotions commented to Jamaica Observer on Friday. Along with the “King of Sting,” Ninjaman, dancehall giants Bounty Killer and Beenie Man, as well as rising stars Mavado (pictured above), Busy Signal, and Vybz Kartel, are already confirmed to perform at Jamworld in Portmore, St. Catherine, on December 26. Ninjaman has issued a challenge to the above artists to lyrically throw down.

There’s a slate of crucial new albums at Juno Records this week that may fly below reviewers’ radars; of course we’ll tell you about them here! First, there’s a restock of the solid, late-period Dennis Brown 10-song LP set, Generosity, on Gator Records, which sounds like his richly produced Gussie Clark material. Sound System Records has an amazing set from deceased dancehall toaster Nicodemus. Serious Nicodemus Volume 2: Nicodemus Meets Roots Radics At Channel One is a deep collection of rub-a-dub-era chanting, with killer dub production. There’s also a brilliant LP from roots singer Rod Taylor (Garden of Eden: 1975-82, on Patate), whose haunting vocals and conscious lyrics are the foundation of much of today’s modern roots.

If strictly conscious roots reggae is your thing–artists like Midnite, Chezidek, or Israel Vibration–check roots specialist iReggae for a top 10 of new roots titles.

Guyana’s Stabroek News features an account of Buju Banton’s career, in which it declares that the singer “embraces two worlds.” Editorialist Andre Haynes writes: “As the headliner at the inaugural Guyana Music Festival, he embraced the dichotomy, switching easily from an old-school dancehall one minute to a roots reggae ballad the next.” The article reveals Buju’s newly defiant attitude towards being continually targeted by gay-rights groups. From the stage, Buju declared, “Buju no like batty boys,” he told the cheering crowd, “and dem batty boy attack Buju.”

Roots singer Queen Ifrica’s latest single, “Daddy,” is allegedly being widely bootlegged in the streets of Jamaica and overseas. Despite the lost revenue, Ifrica producer Flava told One876, “We plan to make a DVD of the making of this video, and we will be donating 50 per cent of the proceeds to a charity of Ifrica’s choice.”

Child sexual abuse is the painful topic of “Daddy.” A number of Jamaican artists have begun a campaign to address sexual abuse of all types. Warrior King, Ce’Cile, and Richie Stephens are among those who have recorded songs examining the sensitive subject.

As reggae from outside of Jamaica continues to garner interest and fans, Dominica singer Nasio Fontaine, known for his distinctive nasal falsetto and conscious lyrics, is achieving greater heights. Last week, the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica awarded Fontaine the Sisserou Award of Honour for meritorious service–the island nation’s highest honor.

Virgin Atlantic airlines now serves the London to Kingston route, and to promote it, Virgin billionaire CEO Sir Richard Bronson has recorded a cover of Bob Marley’s classic “One Love.” Tuesday, October 30, Bronson visited Tuff Gong Studios, where he collaborated on the song with Stephen Marley and the I Threes. Virgin extensively supported reggae during the ’70s and ’80s via its respected Frontline catalog.

Photo of Mavado by Martei Korley.

New York’s Top Ten Reggae Singles
1. Sean Kingston “Beautiful Girl” (Beluga Heights/Epic)
2. T.O.K. “Guardian Angel” (Fresh Ear)
3. Beenie Man “Back It Up” (357 Records)
4. Daville “Give Thanks For What You Got” (Fresh Ear)
5. Screechy Dan “Panty Town” (Big Yard)
6. Cham “Conscience” (Don Corleon)
7. Shaggy/Rik Rok & Tony Gold “Bonafide Girl/Move Hype” (Big Yard)
8. Alaine “Rising Love” (Fresh Ear)
9. Ce’Cile “I’m Waiting” (Danger Zone)
10. Jah Cure “Sticky” (Danger Zone)