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The mission continues at the 20th annual 9Mile Festival with an eclectic mix of Reggae, Dancehall, Soca and Rap
Photos and Feature by Empress K for Reggae Reflection
Heading to Miami to cover the annual 9 Mile Festival is supposed to be a well deserved break from the New England Winter season. Much to my surprise and initial disappointment, a cold spell ensued and southern FL ended up being just a little warmer than home! Fortunately the eclectic mix of Reggae, Soca, Dancehall and Rap headliners made up for the unusually cold weather.
The Annual 9 Mile Festival now in its 20th year was held at the historic Virginia Key Beach in Miami where the previous year’s festival was also held. Gates were advertised to open at 2:00pm and by the time I got there around 3:00pm, concert goers were well on their way into the venue . Daniel Bambaata Marley was already on stage with his own band and receiving a warm welcome from the early crowd on hand. Daniel has definitely inherited being at ease on stage from his father Ziggy Marley. At the end of his well received set he took some time to introduce a next generation of upcoming and conscious reggae artists Dax Lion, Biggz General, and Chronixx.
Lance-O of Kulcha Shok Muzik and a familiar MC at the 9 Mile festival introduced the Ruff Kutt Band to the stage who would be backing the next set of artists starting with Luciano. Luciano opened up his set with Give Praise to Rastafari. Supported by two female vocalists, Luciano performed a solid set of his well known songs including For the Leaders, Silver and Gold, Call on Jah, and Gideon War. He pleased the audience with 2 encores including an acoustic version of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.
Continuing with the strong line up of headliners early in the festival, Capleton burst on stage next as only the Fiyah Man can do with Your day will Come. Capleton’s set included more high energy Capleton classics such as Jah Jah City, Momma and Poppa, Baby Don’t Cry No More, and Acres and Acres.
Photos of Luciano and Capleton
Dancehall up Next with Konshens
Konshens was one of the first dancehall artists of the evening. Letting the audience know early on that he was battling the flu, Konshens braved the stage and won over his fans as he announced he wasn’t going to let it keep him down and continued to perform many of his well known hits including Gyal a Bubble, Good GirlGone Bad, and Do Sumn and The Realest Song.
Despite the cold temperatures, as the night wore on the crowd at the festival steadily grew with unofficial reports of attendance between 10,000 and 15,000. Many members of the audience were dressed warmly in wool winter coats or were wrapped in blankets. With nearly 12 hours of music, many of the late comers most likely missed the early headliner acts that they wanted to see such as Capleton and Luciano and Konshens. Feedback from many fans I encountered is that a published schedule is needed so they can better plan attendance times at such a long festival.
Machel Montano proves Vibes Cyah Done
As the evening started, Soca King Machel Montano HD of Trinidad and Tobago was up next. Machel is celebrating over 30 years in the music business and this was his first time at the 9Mile Festival. He certainly turned the celebration up a notch by creating a party like atmosphere as he along with his dancers, singers and special guest Patrice Roberts had everyone wining to the infectious beat of Soca. Adding to the celebratory vibe, he opened up a bottle of his own rum brand 3Zero and shared with some of the fans up front during his song ‘Drinking Rum’.
Future, one of two rappers on the festival from Atlanta took the stage next along with two members of his crew all backed by a DJ. Future’s set included hit songs from his 2012 debut album Pluto as well as the popular song Loveee Song that he recorded with Rihanna and shares writing credit.
Fans and Vendors at 9Mile Music Festival
Dancehall Gully Side
The festival switched back to dancehall mode Gully Side with Mavado who is now primarily based in Miami. Mavado, a member of DJ Khaled’s Label We the Best Music Group was appearing for the first time at the 9Mile Festival. The Ruff Kutt band returned to back Mavado’s set as he performed a variety of his old and newer songs such as Real Mckoy, Star Bwoy, Every Gyal and Box of Money. Karian Sang joined Mavado on stage to perform their new collaboration on Take It. The video for Take it just aired on Billboard TV making Mavado the first Caribbean artist to premiere a video on Billboard.
The mission continues with Stephen Marley, Julian Marley and Damian Jr. Gong Marley
As it was nearing 11:00pm, it was finally time for the Marley brothers to take the stage. Stephen Marley and Jr. Gong kicked off the set with their song The Mission then each of the Marley brothers took turns to perform their own songs as well as their joint collaborations. Julian took the lead on his song Boom Draw before the brothers performed Jah Army and paid tribute to Buju Banton. Julian also performed his songs Heart Breaker and Violence in the Streets. Of course the set also featured a number of Bob Marley classics which included Get up Stand Up, Natural Mystic, War, Pimpa’s Paradise and Exodus. Stephen initiated the popular song Traffic Jam with Jr. Gong and around that time called Illestr8 and Jo Mersa to the stage. Jo Mersa continuing with his track ‘Bad So‘. Surprise guest and fan favorite Spragga Benz was also on hand to add his touch to the set.
Here Comes Jr. Gong, Flying High Like Superman
Jr Gong energized the crowd by performing Make it Bun Dem followed by Set up Shop and Affairs of the Heart, two of his latest hit songs which are featured on the his new Ghetto Youths International Compilation Set up Shop, Volume 1. Damian’s well loved anthem Welcome to Jamrock completed his segment as the next to last song of the performance.
The classic Could you Be Loved was saved for the last song of the set. Normally the Marleys would have closed out the festival, however unofficial reports were that due to a flight delay, 2Chainz would be going on last. This did not stop a large exodus of Reggae fans from leaving the venue as soon as it was clear that the Marley set was over.
@AKVYBZ Video Highlights of Julian Marley and Damian Marley at 9Mile Reggae Festival
Julian Marley Heartbreaker
Jr Gong Affairs of the Heart
It’s not over Yet – 2Chainz closes out the evening
Closing out nearly 12 hours of non-stop music, Def Jam Recording artist 2Chainz was the last act of the night. To hype up the remaining crowd, a very effective video montage played with footage from his solo concert tour. 2Chainz the 2nd rapper of the evening also hailing from Atlanta kicked it off with Mercy, last year’s collaboration with Kanye West, Big Sean and Pusha T which earned him a recent Grammy nomination for Best Rap Song. 2Chainz then performed a string of his hit singles including I’m Diffierent and other popular songs from his recent debut solo album Based on T.R.U. Story – his logo and album title prominently displayed on the large video screen throughout his performance. His set ended just around the advertised ending time of 1:30am.
Throughout the evening host Lance-O reminded everyone of the diverse array of performers that have made appearances at the annual festival ranging from Lauryn Hill to Mr. Cheeks to Gentleman to Slightly Stoopid as well as many others over the years. The 20th year of the festival continued that mission featuring many familiar faces as well as introducing the best in multiple genres, bringing together the diverse fan base in Miami . The annual festival also has a charity component. As part of the ticket price, it is a requirement to bring 4 canned goods which are donated to Curley’s House, an organization that works to help improve the quality of life for low-to-moderate income families.
I’m already looking forward to the 21st Annual 9Mile Celebration and of course much warmer weather!