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Remember When Riddims Were King

When Riddims Were King

23rd May 2020 will be remembered in history for one of the most epic events in one of our universe's darkest times. We will never forget the night dancehall kings and former extremely heated rivals, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, battled on the Verzuz platform built by hall-of-fame producers, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz.

An unfiltered, 360-degree view on Jamaican dancehall events was showcased; DJ’s and dancing (Beenie Man’s daughter Desha Ravers) to deejay’s clashing on the same riddims. The latter elements provided the jewels in the night’s highlight reel, and undoubtedly the best thing to happen on the Verzuz series.

Word spread like guava jelly within the dancehall community and Jamaican diaspora upon announcement. Not only was it a clash between the longest and fiercest rivalry we know, but finally, the world gets to see where the Verzuz concept really started. Also, competing is Jamaica’s national sport; they go together like rice and peas or bulla and…
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Wrote about Dancehall's Deadest Decade (2010-2019)

First things first; I want it to be known that this is in no way an attack on the music I love. It’s constructive criticism which I hope is a guide towards a better future. Any good relationship requires communication about the good as well as the bad.

Right now, I’d describe my relationship with dancehall music as complicated, strained may be more accurate. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel ashamed to say I’m indifferent to the current happenings. How did I get here? Well it’s due to a series of disappointments over the past decade.

But before I explain how I arrived here, I’ll give a bit of background about myself. I’m Marvin Sparks, a mid-1980s born-and-raised Londoner (UK) of Jamaican heritage. I have visited Jamaica fifteen times since my first visit in 1990. My dad plays strictly Jamaican music in the car, mum always plays popular south London, Jamaican community station Vibes FM in the house. I sang songs by Black Uhuru, Lovindeer and Tiger before I knew the likes of…

A win for Damian Marley is another L for Reggae Grammy

Yeah, i said it. Damian Marley does not deserve to win the best Reggae Grammy. Everyone’s sitting on the fence, not me. It’s cut and dry to me. 

I’d have bet my last penny he will win if I were a betting man. In fact, I’ve been calling Stony Hill a Grammy-winning album since he finally announced the release date. The much-delayed album, pushed back maybe three times, “conveniently” dropped less than a month after Chronixx’s much-anticipated Chronology. If I thought it was a bit too much of a coincidence, I wasn't any less convinced when I heard the second track “Here We Go” where he says “no punk can’t finish what Bob Marley started”. Who was that aimed at then?
And the way I feel about that song and album is basically how the Grammy’s will be represented this year if they give it to Damian Marley. Regressive. Elitist. Or is they say in Jamaica a "Fight 'gainst the youths!"
Chronixx made a far more innovative and cohesive body of work, one that expands on what reggae…

Top 10 Biggest Dancehall Tunes of 2016 - Fact

People go on about how dead dancehall is, like no one cares for it, but when you consider these people lack major industry experience and resources, these numbers are pretty healthy. Dancehall has always been a hit industry. Hit songs and shows. Talking about sales in this day and age is pretty dead.

A problem is people compare dancehall success to hip hop and r&b. Why compare music from a place of 2 million people with one that has 200 million+ people on their own land space? A predominantly independently run and divided scene against one boasting millions of $ of investment from corporates. A genre that relies on foreign territories to sustain it compared to one where homegrown artists can tour home and live well. Dancehall has to be exported but doesn't have to investment to do so yet still survives.

Yes, dancehall has punched above its weight in the past, but believe me, it continues to do that. Don't think "Oh, it ain't in the Billboard charts anymore" a…

Why Hasn't Jamaica Had A One Dance?

For anyone who doesn't know, Drake - One Dance was number 1 in UK for 14 weeks and 10 week in US. It topped the charts in 16 countries. Drake is known as a hip hop artist but he dabbles in other styles of music such as dancehall, r&b and afrobeats. One Dance is a dancehall song which samples a UK funky classic and features afrobeats superstar, Wizkid.

Truth is, if a Jamaican dancehall artist made One Dance in 2016 it probably would've been popular in dances but struggled to break through from the dancehall's to the charts. And that's if it wasn't deemed to pop sounding by core Jamaican dancehall DJ's. It could've been one of those rest of the Caribbean hits that does well in New York and the rest of the tri-state, Africa then hits Jamaica on the rebound.

Most of those types of songs aren't worth the risk because many of them float in no man's land; not hardcore enough to fit dancehall DJ's sets, and despite its accessibility to the mainstrea…

So, Jamaican Music Is Currently Dominating UK Pop Chart

Based on official UK top 100 singles chart week commencing 15th April

1. Drake featuring Wizkid & Kyla

Don't listen to the afrobeats or UK funky claims, Drake made a dancehall song with elements of the aforementioned. But I addressed that in the 'Mis-Appreciation of Jamaican Culture' post.



2. Sia feat. Sean Paul - Cheap Thrills

Sidenote: Song declined by Rihanna



5. Zara Larrson - Lush Life

Sidenote: Allegedly a song declined by Rihanna. Not sure how true that is.



10. Rihanna feating Drake - Work (peak chart position 2)



13. Major Lazer feat. Nyla & Fuse ODG- Light It Up (peak chart position 7)

Sidenote: Nyla is part of Brick & Lace fame. They dropped one of the best written dancehall pop crossover songs ever in Love is Wicked. I believe she's the singer although she singjay's on this.



26. Justin Bieber - Sorry (peak chart position 1)



39. AlunaGeorge feat. Popcaan - I'm In Control



43. Kygo - Stay (peak chart position 20)



58. Jay Sean feat. Sean Paul - Mak…

(feat. Sean Paul) [the 2016 edition]. The Songs Them So Far

So, Craig David and Kano are having renaissance moments in the UK. "feat. Sean Paul" is also having a bit of a revival. 13 years (yes thirteen years) on from his grand entrance into the mainstream market with the unstoppable dance floor smash "Gimme di Liiight".



Obviously, it was followed up by the US #1 "Get Busy", "Like Glue" and "I'm Still in Love With You " but in and amongst all of that, Sean Paul became a go-to guy for features to make singles hot. That melodic dancehall wave from a Jamaican was fully in.