Music Festivals

Reggae Lover's Guide to Best of the Best 2021

Tarrus Riley is a part of the lineup for the 15th-annual Best of the Best.
Photo by Birhan Tonge
Tarrus Riley is a part of the lineup for the 15th-annual Best of the Best.
After last year's hiatus, Best of the Best Music Fest is back for its 15th edition. For one year only, the event was moved from its usual date in May back to Sunday, October 10, at Bayfront Park. Attracting soca, dancehall, and reggae lovers from all over the country, the festival has hosted a slew of famed acts, including Buju Banton, Nicki Minaj, Bounty Killer, Gyptian, T-Pain, Diddy, and Wyclef Jean.

This year, concertgoers can expect another lineup of luminaries at one of the biggest Caribbean music festivals in North America. From classic soca hits to contemporary dancehall and reggae, here's New Times' guide on some of the artists you can expect to hit the Best of the Best stage.

Alison Hinds

The Bajan crooner has evolved into one of the most popular soca artists globally — hence her title as the Queen of Soca. The name behind one of Carnival's most famous anthems, "Roll It Gal," Hinds has claimed a stake in the genre's global success. Her hit records are a must-play at Caribbean festivals and fetes all over the world. Whether you decide to skip out on Carnival this weekend or head to Best of the Best right after playing mas, one thing's for sure, Hinds' infectious songs will have you on your feet through her entire performance.

Jo Mersa Marley

The grandson of Bob Marley and son of Stephen Marley, Jo Mersa Marley is primed to continue his family's legendary legacy. Debuting his music career in 2014 with his EP Comfortable, he's already made appearances on Morgan Heritage's Grammy Award-winning album Strictly Roots and on the 2016 father-son collaboration, "Revelation Party." Last year, he appeared alongside his cousin, Skip Marley, on the "Survival 76 Cypher," a song paying homage to what would've been Bob Marley's 76th birthday. Fans of the Marley clan can expect to hear the continuation of an iconic sound.


Koffee

Hailing from Spanish Town, Jamaica, the reggae singer-songwriter made a splash in the genre in 2019 with her hit single "Toast," featured on her debut EP, Rapture. Last year, she became the youngest and only woman to score a Grammy for "Best Reggae Album" at 19 years old. After releasing a string of singles during last year's quarantine mandates, the 21-year-old is slated to headline Best of the Best. Fans can expect to hear her bombastic voice-over thumping riddims — and perhaps the live debut of her new single, "West Indies."

Spice

With a style as bold as her personality, the Love & Hip Hop Atlanta cast member was dubbed the Queen of Dancehall way before her foray into reality TV. The Portmore, Jamaica, native first swooned fans with her 2009 hit single "Romping Shop," featuring Vybz Kartel. Since then, her vibrant dancehall songs brimming with seductive tones have become a staple for Caribbean DJs and partygoers. Fans attending Best of the Best can expect to see a mashup of some of her most famous, whine-inducing hits — and maybe an appearance of her signature blue hair.

Tanya Stephens

An iconic reggae artist, Tanya Stephens first rose to fame in the late '90s when she released "Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet," a single featured on her second album, Too Hype. Throughout the '90s and early aughts, she went on to make herself a top contender in reggae and dancehall with tracks like "Draw Fi Mi Finger," "Part Time Lover," and "It's a Pity." Since then, her discography has been crystallized into classics for lovers of the genre and up-and-coming artists. Revelers can expect to hear and dance to several nostalgic songs from one of dancehall's most recognizable pioneers.

Tarrus Riley

The Bronx-born reggae singer-songwriter has edged his way into the crème de la crème of his genre. Since his 2004 debut album, Challenges, the singer has attracted a global audience and an array of collaborators, such as Major Lazer, Shenseea, Koshens, Dexta Daps, and Ellie Goulding. His raspy, smokey voice has grounded reggae, pop, and dancehall tracks since the 2010s, making him one of the most influential contemporary reggae artists. His performance on Sunday may be one of the most anticipated.

Best of the Best. 3 p.m. Sunday, October 10, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-438-9488; bestofthebestconcert.com. Tickets cost $65 to $175.