Reggae artiste Richie Stephens will be making his seventh appearance at Reggae Sumfest this year and his first with his band, Ska Nation.
According to the artiste, who was recently awarded by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for his writing on Rihanna’s single, Work (featuring Drake), fans should brace themselves for an intense set at Sumfest.
“I have not performed at Sumfest for the past 15 years, but I always try to make all my performances as entertaining and memorable as possible. This occasion, I am specially excited to be on the line-up as a ska artiste, because it is our music. Ska is a very lucrative genre of music overseas, and I don’t know why we have abandoned it,” he told The Sunday Gleaner.
The veteran also noted that his most memorable Reggae Sumfest experience was shared with his frequent collaborator and long-time friend, Bounty Killer, who is also booked for the show this year.
“The Sumfest that is memorable to me is the year I called out Bounty to apologise to the audience about an incident that took place with Beenie Man on the previous night. I called him and told him to come and give the fans an apology for the situation, and he said he would not because he was not wrong. However, after some persuasion, he decided to apologise, even though Beenie Man was wrong for walking into his set. Bounty’s apology was well received and was a good experience for both of us,” he said.
Stephens explained that he has always had a positive influence on the tough-talking Bounty Killer over the years. He also boasted that he was the first person to get the deejay to record a ska song, titled Bad Boys In Town.
As for the decision of organisers to focus on mostly local talents for the Sumfest line-up, Stephens says the idea is progressive and will benefit the music industry in the long term.
“We have a lot of home-grown talent because Jamaica is such a rich place with musical trendsetters.You are not going to get foreigners to come to Jamaica by booking foreigners. Brand Jamaica is less expensive to manage and it is also a great platform to build the music industry,” he said.
Stephens is set to receive two more international awards for Rihanna’s Work before the end of 2017.