Sting, Jamaica’s renowned dancehall music festival, has unveiled an impressive lineup for its 2023 edition, marking its 40th anniversary. This year’s event, scheduled for Boxing Day, will return to its traditional venue, Jamworld in Portmore. The lineup, branded as ’10 Giants’, features dancehall and reggae veterans like Bounty Killer, Tanya Stephens, Anthony B, Spragga Benz, Turbulence, Macka Diamond, Capleton, Fantan Mojah, Bugle, and Tommy Lee Sparta. Anthony B expressed his excitement about returning to Sting, where he first made a significant impact in 1995. In addition to these headliners, the festival will introduce new and emerging talents in the dancehall and reggae scenes.
The anticipation for Sting 2023 is palpable among fans, particularly because of its return to Jamworld, a venue deeply associated with the festival’s origins and history. A patron expressed their eagerness for this milestone celebration of dancehall music at Sting 2023.
However, Sting’s recent history has been tumultuous. Notably, in 2016, the festival faced significant challenges, marking the first Boxing Day in over three decades without a Sting staging. This decline was attributed to financial losses and a lack of willingness from top artists to perform at the festival. The clashes that were once a hallmark of Sting’s excitement eventually contributed to its downfall. Isaiah Laing, the festival’s founder, admitted that Sting had not been profitable for several years.
In 2022, Sting attempted a comeback but ended abruptly and chaotically. Clashes between the entourages of several artists led to the premature end of the show, with many anticipated performances being cut short. This chaos was a disappointment to fans and performers alike, and it highlighted organizational issues at the festival. Valiant, one of the artists scheduled to perform, expressed his frustration with the show’s disorganization, describing Sting as “a big unorganized and unprofessional show”. Moreover, the absence of notable dancehall veterans like Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Cham, and others indicated a disconnect between the festival and some of the genre’s most influential artists.
As Sting 2023 approaches, the festival faces the challenge of not only celebrating its 40th anniversary but also redeeming its reputation. The return to Jamworld and the lineup of ’10 Giants’ are promising steps towards revitalizing the festival’s legacy. However, it remains to be seen whether this year’s edition can truly bring Sting back to its glory days, given its recent struggles with organization, artist participation, and maintaining a safe and enjoyable environment for fans and performers alike.