Rygin King said he wanted to do Sumfest

July 19, 2019

Even a year after his sprightly appearance at Reggae Sumfest, Rygin King's performance is still etched in the minds of dancehall lovers who are wondering, where is he on tomorrow's line-up?

The dancehall-trap pioneer closed Festival Night One in 2018 in tandem with his Montego Bay peers Teejay and Tommy Lee Sparta. Clad in all-white, King reaped the respect and awe of patrons with his high-energy stage presence, and a healthy catalogue of 'waker-uppers', including Learn, How Mi Grow, Tuff and Things Go Change.

After his performance, King said that he was eager to thrill once more at the event in 2019. Fast-forward one year later, he told THE WEEKEND STAR that disrespect contributed to his absence at the festival which unfolds this weekend in his home city.

"I want my fans to know it's not my fault, I really want to do Sumfest, but it is out of my control due to who is responsible for Sumfest and the disrespect," he said.

"Dem got to my management from January to book me for the show, but we weren't pleased with the contract dem send, and got back to them to say we think we have a relationship where we can get together and reason about it. Dem quickly said 'no', if me not taking what they are giving me, them don't want me and dem will find someone else and I'm like, you can't find someone else to replace me, because a me the people dem waan fi see."

Though he did not wish to disclose what he was offered nor what he requested, he did reveal that his compensation last year was $40,000, a hotel room for the night and 15 tickets to the event.

"They've been disrespectful all of last year, but you know when yuh humble and tek certain things 'cause you know weh yuh want?" he asked. "My career has expanded from Sumfest and I thought I had a negotiable relationship with these people. Yuh cya have Rygin King shell Sumfest last year and this year you're gonna say you don't want him. I think it's their poor decision, and whosoever is responsible for Sumfest don't know anything about reggae or dancehall music, and that is something that will mash up the relationship with artistes and the show."

Downsound Records owner and businessman Joe Bogdanovich acquired the rights to the Reggae Sumfest brand in 2016. The event was first held in 1993 through organisers Robert Russell, Johnny Gourzong and Tina Davis of Summerfest Productions.

"This festival has been going on for years and if Mr Gourzong don't take back the festival it's not gonna be the Sumfest it has been over the years, it's gonna be 'dead fest' 'cause no one is gonna go," King said.

"On Sumfest, you used to have eight hours of stars and real performers, this year you won't have that. You have some artistes hot right now but dem don't have an hour or half an hour of hot songs. How long will the people be in the venue before they are entertained?"

His comments mirrored that of promoter Romeich Major, who told THE WEEKEND STAR last week that his acts (Shenseea and Teejay) were not billed for the show based on fees he described as disrespectful to their brand.

"The artistes aren't getting respect from who is responsible, and they don't wanna pay the artistes what they supposed to get," said King. "Rygin King is selling out shows worldwide; when I go on a tour in Europe, the accumulation in the crowd is very massive. It's an international festival that they are treating like a peace treaty or fun day. We nah worry about the money, it's the respect."