OVO Festival 2016 Opens With Soca King Machel Montano, Sean Paul & More in Toronto

So there have been grumblings about the misappropriation of Caribbean music among world renowned hip-hop celebrities .  The grumblings were less about the use of our music, but, more about the lack of credit given to the artistes and countries where the different art-forms originated (i.e. soca, dancehall, reggae). One celebrity has tried to tackle this issue head on. Drake remained relatively silent when he was called out for using dancehall in his latest album without giving credit to the Caribbean artistes. Many thought that the issue was dead, but, then Drake recruited Caribbean soca artiste , Machel Montano, and dancehall artiste, Beenie Man, to headline his seventh annual Ovo  Festival which takes place over the Caribana weekend. It maybe that he has extra sensitivities to this issue due to his  professional relationship with Bajan beauty, Rihanna. It may be that he is just an artiste of integrity who believes in giving credit where it is due. But whatever the reason, Drake gets lots of kudos for bringing Caribbean music in front of an over six thousand person crowd and showcasing the culture to his mostly hip-hop audience. Read below for a review of the event by Billboard.


Story Courtesy: BillBoard written by Dalton Higgins (check out more work

To celebrate the seventh edition of Drake’s annual OVO hip-hop festival, organizers added a Caribbean music concert featuring soca and dancehall artists to launch the series Saturday (July 30) at Toronto’s Echo Beach.

Ovo Fest Cover
Courtesy Machel Montano IG

The move made sense for a few reasons. First, OVO occurs during Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival festival, the largest carnival-styled event of its kind in North America, attracting more than 1 million attendees annually. Secondly, most of Drake’s inner crew of collaborators and producers are of Jamaican and Caribbean descent, which arguably has resulted in him dabbling in dancehall on Views (“One Dance,” “Controlla”).

This Caribbean music concert’s inclusion in OVO fest was viewed as him giving back to the culture that greatly informs his music.

The King of Soca Machel Montano and veteran dancehall don Beenie Man were scheduled as co-headliners, until Beenie was denied entry into Canada a few days before the event over “immigration issues” concerning his apparent contraction of the Zika virus.

At the sold-out, 6,300-capacity venue, concern over a Beenie Man-less concert were quickly dashed once the music began. Capably headlined by Montano, who has been on a heat-seeking mission with manager Che Kothari to cross soca music into the mainstream — recently playing Coachella with Major Lazer and bringing soca to the White House for the first time last month — borrowed elements of a typical OVO fest, which was to bring out a relentless string of previously unannounced special guests.

A rotating cast of prominent DJs — including Toronto’s D’bandit and Miami’s Black Chiney — spent the first hour warming up the audience by rotating reggae and soca anthems. Stage host and local TV personality T-Rex introduced the first guest artist Kranium.  Dressed in all black with matching black bandana, the artist performed his one recognizable hit “Nobody Has to Know” and segued into a well received acapella freestyle rendition.

Next up, Trinidad and Tobago’s rising soca and R&B star Kes took to the stage. The overwhelmingly female audience erupted and sang along word-for-word to his regional hits “People” and “Fallin’.” By the time DJ Black Chiney spun a demonstrably retro R&B set, playing everything from Cameo’s “Candy” to Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It,” the stage had been set for one of OVO fest’s coup de gras.

Courtesy Billboard

Donning a tightly fitted baseball cap and sunglasses, Sean Paul sauntered onto the stage with two exceptional stage dancers, running through a virtual medley of some of his greatest hits, including “Get Busy,” “Gimme the Light” and “Give It Up to Me,” as the sizable Jamaican flag waving audience came out in full force and made their presence known.

Guest stage co-host Ebro from Apple Beats 1 further amplified the OVO flag waving on stage with T-Rex, both literally waving OVO branded flags, as Drake’s “One Dance” played.

The King of Soca and festival headliner Montano then ran on stage with a casual yet flashy black sleeveless shirt and matching pants with white stripes and baseball cap, accompanied by some of the finest choreographed dancers one could see. The eight ultra high energy dancers, comprised of an equal split of fo

Courtesy Hip Hop basement
Courtesy Hip Hop basement

ur men and women sporting Monk tees to commemorate Montano’s label and latest album, accompanied him effortlessly through many of his multiple power anthems.





Read more at: BillBoard



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MISSION: To elevate the brand of Caribbean culture in the fields of MUSIC, BUSINESS and the ARTS by celebrating the work of cultural ambassadors while advocating for upcoming Caribbean talent1.


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