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Best of the Best 2011

Best of the Best 2011

Best of the Best 2011

By on - Photos by Gail Zucker - Comment

Damian and Stephen Marley, Alison Hinds, Shabba Ranks, I-Octane, Tarrus Riley, Sanchez and more in Miami

The 5th anniversary of the Best of the Best Weekend kicked off Thursday night, May 26 on South Beach with a myriad of events happening at local clubs. The “Big Show” 2011 featured two blockbuster concerts on the weekend at Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami, with hip hop and rap ruling on Saturday while island vibes flowed on Sunday. Visitors to Miami Beach enjoyed an eclectic mix of street cafes and restaurant and an array nightlife choices, with official Best of the Best Weekend 2011 events at Cameo and Mansion nightclubs on South Beach and Opium, nestled in the Seminole Hard Rock complex on 441 in Davie.

Shabba Ranks at BOTB 2011

As any back-yard playa who's ever organized a bad-ass party will tell you, you can't have a really great holiday blowout without a crowd that's ready to party; food with soul, Jamaican style, which means jerked just about anything, fried fish, corn on the cob, sugar cane and fresh coconut water, and the entertainment must include a touch of rap, a few dancehall DJs, some of the biggest names in reggae and hopefully, beautiful weather.

Needless to say, the Best of the Best fest had it all. This annual Memorial Day bash at Bicentennial Park delivered not only Damian and Stephen Marley, reigning kings of Reggae but Alison Hinds, the undisputed queen of Soca. Now we’re all lucky enough here in South Florida to have the Marley family as locals but any time any of them perform, the crowd comes out to welcome them.

The Caribbean took over downtown Miami with a serious dancehall bashment party that brought in fans from all over. The ladies choice, Sanchez, provided his unmistakable brand of lovers' rock, the Marley brothers presented modern urban reggae sounds and finally the elder statesman of the dancehall, Shabba Ranks, closed the show with his distinctive gravel-toned vocals. I did wonder why every other word he sang was “Shabba” but I guess that’s just his thing.

Sanchez at BOTB 2011

Interspersed were a refreshing breath of Soca from Alison Hinds, Tarrus Riley, one of the strongest and sweetest new voices in reggae, relatively young newcomers Romain Virgo and I-Octane, and amazingly enough, the Vybz Kartel telecast actually happened fairly on time and with excellent quality sound and video. If only he didn’t look so bizarre with hair extensions and an overdose of that cake soap. Could this be the wave of the future for those artists who can’t get U.S. visas? Skip touring and go straight to beaming down by satellite. Wow, we could finally see Sizzla and Jah Cure almost “in the flesh”.

Of course no Best of the Best could exclude local rap mogul DJ Khaled and new protege Ace Hood, but honestly, I took that opportunity to sit it out in the press tent with my feet up. Sorry, just can’t learn to appreciate artists who shout mother-f*cker every other word, even surprise guest Busta Rhymes

Then there were the bashment girls everywhere – what a show in themselves! Skirts up to where?, necklines down to the there, and insanely high stilettos – just what anyone with sense would wear to stand on concrete all day and into the night.

So even though the day started badly with parking where we thought the press entrance was (and would have been if they hadn’t flipped the whole layout of the concert, leaving us on the farthest side of the entrance), it was as good a show as we’ve come to expect from “the Best” and we didn’t forget where we parked like last year when I had to take a cab to drive around looking for my car. 

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