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Director of Reggae Sumfest defends Empire rapper booking


THE EXECUTIVE director of one of Jamaica’s biggest reggae festivals has defended his decision to add Empire star Bryshere "Yazz" Gray to the line-up.

Many critics had noted that Gray, who plays rapper Hakeem Lyons on the hit show, only has one song, Drip Drop, to his credit.

But Johnny Gourzong, the executive director of Summerfest Productions who stage Reggae Sumfest, says the actor and rapper is extremely popular locally because of his role on the highly successful TV series.

Gourzong says in addition to Gray's popularity on the TV show, booking the youngster for Sumfest is only right since the theme for this year's staging is the 'Summer Blockbuster'.

He says this theme essentially alludes to the fact that several of the musicians to be featured on this year's line-up have had successful acting careers.

"A number of people requested this young man. The Empire series is not only popular here, but also overseas,” Gourzong said.

“In addition to that, we are working with the Blockbuster theme and people like Common and Jennifer Hudson have been in movies. Even our own Spice and Christopher Martin have performed well in the movie Destiny so why not Yazz as well?"

Gourzong also disclosed that it was not expensive to book the artist for the show since he had already taken a liking to Jamaica.

"He wanted to be here, it's his first overseas trip, so he is looking forward to being at Sumfest. It's a little youth who wants to be a part of the culture. He only has one album, but he is a promising rapper," he said.

Gray will be on July 18 for 20 minutes.

Empire was created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, and stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.

Sumfest 2015 kicks off on Sunday, July 12, with a beach party at the Aquasol Beach Park in Montego Bay and an all-white affair at Pier One on Tuesday, July 14, also in the same city.

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