Vybz Kartel: A Brand With No Bounds

June 17, 2011  |  

(New York Times) — SHORTLY before 10 p.m. on the final night of Best of the Best, a reggae and hip-hop concert held over the Memorial Day weekend in Veterans Park in Miami, DJ Nuffy, the master of ceremonies, began to introduce the dancehall reggae artist Vybz Kartel. But Vybz Kartel wasn’t actually in the park, in Miami, or even in the United States. He was more than 500 miles away at Jamaica Jamaica, a fancy nightclub just outside Ocho Rios, because he has been denied a United States visa.  “And now for your feature presentation, the biggest thing in Jamaica,” DJ Nuffy roared, adding “him look like Michael Jackson.” The sly remark — referring both to the artist’s enormous celebrity in the Caribbean diaspora and to his controversial practice of lightening his skin — drew laughter and mischievous cheers from the crowd of some 10,000 who stared intently at a screen on the stage where artists including DJ Khaled, Busta Rhymes and I-Octane had performed just moments before. “Let’s welcome via satellite, live to you, Vybz. Vybz. Vybz.”

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