Music Festivals

The Five Best Acts at Kaya Fest

Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill Photo by Monica McGivern
If you’re looking for an unforgettable way to spend your 4/20 weekend, the Marley brothers have you covered. Stephen, Damien, Julian, Ziggy, and Ky-Mani Marley will reunite for an epic performance at the inaugural Kaya Fest, hosted by Sway Calloway. The reggae/dancehall music gathering spearheaded by Bob Marley’s son Stephen is expected to fill Bayfront Park with the smooth sounds of Caribbean music, along with a dense cloud of marijuana smoke.

The Marley brothers will celebrate the weed-inspired holiday by sharing the stage with international acts such as Wyclef Jean and new artists like Bunji Garlin and Bob's grandsons. These five acts in particular will make Kaya a fest to remember:

1. Cultura Profética
For the past 20 years, the Puerto Rican reggae band Cultura Profética has toured the world. The group, which consists of at least 12 musicians — including founding members Willy Rodríguez, Boris Bilbraut, Eliut González, and Omar Silva — is expected to deliver a perfect blend of Spanish-based reggae songs such as “La Complicidad” and “Desde Mi Silla” as the only Latino act on the Kaya stage. Earlier this year, Cultura Profética released “Musica sin Tiempo,” which has whet fans' appetites for the group's latest studio album since the 2010 LP La Dulzura. The band isn’t known for frequently collaborating with other artists outside its genre. However, with all the talented musicians in the area, who knows what could happen during their set.

2. Sean Paul

Suh mi go suh den. Sean Paul has taken island music to a level in the United States that no one thought possible. Since he began to push dancehall and soca into the mainstream more than a decade ago, the veteran Jamaican rapper’s unique flow and diverse lyrics have made him a hot commodity around the world. Not only has his music taken over the pop charts, but also his list of collaborators crosses through several genres, from hip-hop to Latin. His Kaya set could be filled with surprise guests, such as Tory Lanez or Clean Bandit and Anne-Marie. Recently, Paul was spotted in South Beach shooting the video for the forthcoming single “Body,” with Atlanta trio Migos. If Quavo, Offset, and Takeout join Paul onstage at Kaya, the "lit-uation" will quickly reach critical mass.

3. Inner Circle

If you don’t know about these "Bad Boys" by now, you should be excited for a reggae history lesson from the most successful band of the genre. After traveling the world in honor of the band's Reggae Revolution World Tour last year, Inner Circle will hit the stage to perform its greatest hits from the past four decades, including “Sweat (A La La Long)” and “Games People Play.” The band’s founders, Ian and Roger Lewis, plan to bring the gang out for Kaya’s extravaganza to pay homage to the Marley family and take the crowd back to a time when the band ruled the Caribbean as the Bad Boys of Reggae. In the past decade, the band has linked up with a few notable artists, such as Flo Rida, Mr. Vegas, and American rock band Slightly Stoopid. It’s uncertain whether Inner Circle will include any of the aforementioned collaborators in its set for the fest, but it would be epic if they did.

4. Skip Marley

The golden apple doesn’t fall far from the Marley family tree. Bob Marley’s brothers and his grandson Jo Mersa Marley will hit the stage, but there are plenty of reasons to pay attention to the youngest Marley on the bill, Skip. Born in Jamaica and raised in Miami, the 20-year-old singer has been pursuing his music career seriously for only the past two years, but he’s already won the hearts of Bob’s fan base with his voice. Skip’s vocals resemble his grandfather’s signature flow so much it’s borderline eerie. Not long after signing with Island Records at the beginning of the year, Skip struck gold by teaming up with Katy Perry for her reggae-inspired single, “Chained to the Rhythm.” His appearance in Miami comes on the heels of his performing the top-charting single at the 59th Grammy Awards, the 2017 BRIT Awards, and the iHeart Music Awards. It would be dope to see him perform his own rendition of “Chained to the Rhythm” with a surprise guest. It doesn’t have to be Perry, but this thought does lead us to our final act.

5. Lauryn Hill

There’s no better sonic experience than Lauryn Hill’s angelic voice soothing your soul. Her fans wish she could relive her days as a part of the Fugees. In recent years, Hill has become a guilty pleasure. Fans still pay to see her, but most have left her shows disappointed because of her tendency to show up several hours late. She has the opportunity to change her notorious rep at Kaya Fest, but what more can we expect? The lineup lists her as a “special guest appearance.” She's not guaranteed to have her own set, but that’s something the people will inevitably expect. She could shock everyone by joining Wyclef Jean during his set for a mini Fugees reunion. Hill will be the ultimate wildcard at Kaya, and Miami is ready for whatever she’s got.

Kaya Fest
Saturday, April 22, at Bayfront Park Amphitheatre, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-358-7550; Tickets cost $80 to $200 via
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tony M. Centeno
Contact: Tony M. Centeno

Latest Stories