By Ayana Allen
You would have hoped that the combination of performers from island nations and the availability of copious amounts of jerk chicken would keep the rain from falling on the Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn, site of the 2nd annual Brooklyn Music Festival. The weather threatened early, but as the night wore on the clouds were beaten back.
Though sunshine was at a premium, heat was not. Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Serani, Bounty Killer and Mavado each brought their own personal fire to a dynamic day of music. While Beenie Man and Bounty Killer are veterans, Serani and Mavado are two up-and-coming dancehall artists moving quickly into the mainstream scene. Serani, the Kingston-born singer, has produced hits for Sean Paul but is more recently known for his big hit, “No Games.” He smooth serenades for the ladies were juxtaposed with the intensity of Mavado.
When Mavado’s catchphrase “Anywayyy!” boomed over the PA, fences rattled, flags from all Caribbean countries waved violently and fans roared with approval. Mavado has been gaining traction in the dancehall community, winning awards and recording tracks with prominent rappers like Jay-Z. He has been gradually developing his performance chops as well, as evidenced by his run through “So Special” at BET’s “Rip the Runway” 2009.
Beenie Man took a second to wish all the fathers present a happy Father’s Day before taking us back a decade by performing his 1995 throwback “Slam.” Elephant Man had the biggest fan-friendly moment of the festival: He called up a young boy on stage for a dance-off. The kid got down to recent burners “Nuh Linga” and “Gully Creepa,” and Elephant Man was so impressed that he awarded the kid his own rhinestone-studded jacket. He certainly went home happy, but even those revelers who didn’t walk away with free swag walked away satisfied by the performances and thrilled with the direction the music is headed.