Reggae is indeed the soundtrack to Jamaican life. There is probably no other country in the world where locally produced music has such a profound role in national life. Reggae and dancehall pervades every aspect of Jamaican life. You hear it everywhere, on the streets, on the bus, in bars and in houses.
It’s also very important for the political campaigns of the PNP and the JLP, Jamaica’s biggest political parties. If they want to reach out and move the masses, they do it with reggae and dancehall music. Yesterday there was a huge political PNP meeting at Half Way Tree in Kingston. Party supporters from all over the island came out in their orange colors to hear the party announce the candidates for the upcoming election and hear the Prime Minister announce the election date. The gathering feels like a reggae stage show, people are drinking and smoking and cheering. Reggae music plays a central role in the event. A cabinet member kicks it off with Buju: Our father who are in Zion... One of the government ministers is DJ-ing with his phone. The theme of the meeting is ‘tun up di ting’. Special dubplates for the PNP talk about the party’s achievements. When the minister of finance comes to the stage, the DJ plays I’m all about the money from Alkaline. I find this realy funny. In the song Alkaline sings ‘I’m all about the money, broke life never know me, I’m forever boasty’. Playing this song in a political context made me think that here’s a politician saying ‘I’m only in it for the money (for personal gain)’. But the crowd doesn’t percieve it this way: the minister of finance is in charge of the government budget, right? So he’s all about the money.
The other party, the JLP is also holding a party meeting in Old Harbour. Andrew Holness is their leader, and he emphasises this by making the DJ play Champion boy by Alkaline: One bag a boy medal pon me now, champion boy you know the dam thing go.
Today we will leave Coopers’s family house and head out for Kingston. We can acces our AirBNB appartment on Wedsnesday and will spend today and tomorrow at a small hotel we know. Yesterday we did what a lot of Portmore residents do on a Sunday: head out for Hellshire beach. I’d say a visit to Hellshire beach is a must on any Reggae holiday. Hellshire is a stretch of beach lined with wooden shacks with bars and seafood restaurants like Prendy’s, made famous by a line in a Kartel song: ‘make me go a Hellshire and chill out at Prendy’s’. The emerging sea takes back more and more of the beach every year. You used to be able to follow the coast line along the stalls and bars but you have to access the bar terraces to do this now. Hellshire is a great place to spend the day. Mind you, the seafood is superb but can be quite expensive if you don't pay attention.
Hellshire is a family beach by day, a party beach by night. As the evening falls you see the families pack up their things and the partygoers come in. The main party spot is by a little pier on the left side of the beach. Two walls of speakers are lined up, dancehall blazing. There’s a lot of dancing going on: boys and girls moving in sync to the latest hits, sort of like a video clip. The breeze on the beach is refreshing, the sunset magical. Everything you need to party is right there on the beach. The party lasts untill midnight. That’s it for today.