Here are seven Reggae and Dancehall songs, released over the last month, that are worth streaming. This playlist is not based on numbers, and it’s not in chronological order from best to worst. It’s just seven good songs out right now. That’s it.
Using my experience as a music journalist, and my everyday experience on the road, I will create a list of seven songs every few weeks to highlight some songs I feel are good and doing well in the space.
You can find a playlist on DancehallMag’s Spotify as well.
This one is special because Morgan Heritage is one of the artists that pioneered telling the truth and saying what was real even if it wasn’t anything to smile about. The fact that they have made the effort to connect with the popular young artists is a good look and the beat is tuff.
History really speaks for itself. A very apt single after the waves his recent 438 album has created and how exceptional it’s doing. But definitely check out this song, check the lyrics.
Dream is a reminder that Nation Boss is a real talent. It’s actually on the same riddim as Masicka’s History. But we tend to fall into the same trap of neglecting artists after their hit song, or setting a pedistol they can only fall from. Nation Boss’ Humans was a great single, he’s continued to drop powerful collaborations but this one definitely hit different.
As always Protoje’s beat selection is formidable. Excellent performance of the song and very relatable lyrical content. This one slaps exceptionally hard, especially when you’re actually up in the hills. This is a nice lead single heading into what looks like a new album on the horizon for Proto.
Yeza is an impressive lyricist and she shines on her latest single Glory, which is topped only by the remix which features the legendary Sizzla Kolonji. Not only does Yeza complement Sizzla, but she also manages to match his well known lyrical ferocity.
Activate is mystifying in many ways because the big drums on the riddim get you interested quick and of course 10tik’s flow is unreal. Skillibeng, who is featured and has recently come under heavy lyrical scrutiny delivered what I feel is one of his strongest verses to date. Not only does he dip in and out of different flows, he also has a true message in his verse if you check it. Outside of all that, I gave the song a break and went back to it a day after which is when I noticed all the other layers in the back. It’s not just dark, it’s detailed and that speaks to quality.
Baghdad is a vibe because the riddim is almost meloncholic and Govana with his experience matches it with a reflective but resigned tone. Earlier I talked about detail and quality and it might be something I reference a lot but here it also applies. It’s what separates the artistry of someone like Govana from the oversaturation of violent imagery. The attention to the details is an indication that the artist is conscious they are telling a story. Roshawny Badg provides the arrogant, contrast to Govana’s icy soliloquys.
I am a music journalist for 9 going on 10 years, having interviewed artists from the likes of Beres Hammond, right back to artists like Skillibeng. Writing features and interviews for platforms like The Fader in the US, The Face Magazine in the UK, Riddim Magazine in Germany, and of course right here in the Caribbean with Dancehallmag for the last few years. I’ve decided to create this playlist because I work a lot with Jamaican music, I’m a fan of it, and primarily because I don’t do as much news reporting as I used to earlier in my career, I’m happy to be able to engage the stream of new music.
Another major reason for creating this playlist is to help to deal with the panic attack that some Jamaicans face every few weeks in regards to the changing face of dancehall music. We can all agree that the music is saturated with violent imagery, but that voilence is a part of the culture at the moment in excess. Whether it is the chicken or the egg is neither here nor there for me. What I am interested in is truth, and there is some truth to what is being depicted even in the voilent music. That being said, as humans we are self-actualizing beings, both consciously and unconsciously. We actualize the things that we believe about ourselves, consciously and unconsciously. Some artists are unconsciosly aware of the truth in their music because they may be following a formula that seems to be working. But there are some artists that are conscious of the truth in what they are singing and saying. These artists usually have a better command of the storytelling skill and those are the ones I’m trying to unearth in my work as a music journalist.
The problem is; it’s not that easy to identify them. Especially not based on news. But I’ve also realized that when you speak to these artists, truly speak and listen to them, with empathy and compassion, you get a gleam of whether or not they’re conscious and intentional.
Jamaican music and culture are heavy, complex machinery, if we are unconscious and passive in our consumption of it, our power or vote in the space is routed somewhere else. I feel that even though we consume the music every day, this is why we are dissonant about the songs that have become popular. If we have the desire for the face of the music to change, we have to become active in our consumption and rewrite our image of the music through the songs we listen to and support.
A lot of that will come down to the work we do to find the music we would prefer to hear become popular. We have to divert our attention there because this argument about who is responsible for what will never end. We can see it because ocassionally we get some great artists that force us to pay attention to good music, but then as soon as the buzz of their hit song is gone, we go back to the depressing view that bad music is THE music. That’s really why I’ve created this playlist. I’m doing my part to keep people reminded that good music is out there.
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In This Story: 10Tik, Govana, I-Octane, Jahshii, Masicka, Morgan Heritage, Nation Boss, Protoje, Roshawny Badg, Rytikal, Sizzla, Skillibeng, Yeza
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