Best of the Best Music Fest brings dancehall, soca and reggae to Miami

Lady Saw

He’s the emperor of the dancehall whose explicit lyrics and Mr. Loverman vibes still move reggae fans around the globe.

But for fans of ’90s dancehall music, it’s been years since Shabba Ranks made a Housecall at a stage show. No more.

On Sunday, the popular Jamaican performer will be among the headliners at the Best of the Best Concert at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. This year, the concert, now in its ninth year, is going old school or rather, back to the ’90s with a line up that also includes Lady Saw, Wayne Wonder and Rupee.

Fans also will hear from Morgan Heritage, whose reggae Billboard chart-topping album Strictly Roots features appearances by Shaggy and Chronixx. Also headlining is fan favorite Beenie Man, whose appearance last year got cut short because of timing issues.

“Every year, I don’t want to do the same thing over and over again,” said Steven Beckford aka Jabba, one of the event’s promoters. “I like to change it up.”

Jabba says he’s extremely excited about Shabba Ranks, who took a break from the music scene years ago to spend time with his family, and is currently working on a new album.

“It’s going to be an amazing show. You are really going to love this special performance,” he said.

But there is one caveat, Jabba warned.

For the past three years, Best of the Best has billed itself as a family-friendly event as reggae and soca music fans converge on Miami Memorial Day weekend to catch some of their favorite Caribbean stars.

This year is no exception, Jabba said, despite the appearance of artists whose music and stage performance have been known for their “slackness.”

“There will be no X-rated artists taking off their clothes; so if that is what you are looking for you’re going to be really disappointed,” he said.

Even Lady Saw, known for her boundary-pushing Jamaican patois-fused lyrics and performances, is going to give an edited versions, he said.

“She will be singing some of her classics, but radio-edited,” Jabba said of the The Queen of Dancehall, noting that one of her latest albums carries her government-issued name, Marion Hall. “The same for Shabba Ranks.”

While Best of the Best is known for bringing out some of the biggest names in reggae and dancehall, it will continue with its tradition of also including soca, reggae’s carnival cousin. Soca artists Rupee and Fay Ann Lyons will surely turn the stage into a carnival.

“Rupee has so many great soca songs that we still play up to today,” he said. “We went to ’90s vibe, my era, because there were so many great artists around that we don’t always get the opportunity to see.”