November was interesting for Reggae Dancehall music. It was particularly fascinating to see the younger, more freshly established artists pushing a pace in the music that many older, more established acts have not matched. The blossoming of this Dunce culture from a slang in the music, to a culture was in some ways solidified by the necessary discussion among stakeholders like Damion Crawford on The Fix’s recent interview. His own sentiments on the matter were perhaps the most salient; this culture is a symptom of a larger issue. The issue being a failing education system. Still, without further ado, this month’s playlist - revenge of the dunce edition.
This one starts the list off and for good reason. It is a legitimate step up from the artists most popular song, which was North Carolina last month. It’s the hit after his breakout hit. To say this proves he deserves to be here is an understatement, but he is certainly using his choice of beats and the cleverness of his wordplay to craft a space for himself in the music. It shows an understanding of the sound, which his collaborators on the production side have a hand in as well. If people didn’t know him before this song, they know him now.
Initially, I mentioned that many older more established artists aren’t matching the pace; Masicka is obviously distinguished from that many. A point of note as well, quantity does not always equal quality. Fiesty is not an unusual type of song, in many ways it is another Update. There is of course, an elite tier of artists to which Masicka belongs, who are still THE natural predators of the music, and each single is often a reminder of that. The quality of the songs are superior and they achieve, with a precision that can only come from skill and experience, the same goal that younger artists aim for. This track has amazing flow as always and a great bounce to the riddim; it’s a fitting update.
It is perhaps the song on this list with the most potential. It’s a great example of what is meant by the term Reggae Dancehall. A brilliant love song, that is for many the official unveiling of the relationship between the two. It’s Tonia Ann’s debut, but for those who have followed her career, they might have some idea of this hidden talent. Next To Me is a great listen and, in so many ways, exactly what the music needs. The video is amazing and matches the profundity of the romance, and it is directed of course by Popcaan’s long-time collaborator Nabil.
“Polo slide wid e foot back heng aawf” is one of the most comical lines from Topmann’s most recent single Dutty Foot Fren. This song fits the theme of this list contrasting society’s initial treatment of it’s percieved outcasts including the dunce dutty foot corner boys, with their time in the sun-or rather the Crown. The video matches the fun theme of the music and it’s lyrics, but perhaps what gives it the potential to truly resonate is the truth in the comedy. It’s a great single with good presentation.
Jahvillani has been somewhat missing on the scene due to his travels spreading the music no doubt. Money Pan Mi Mind is a groovy single with all the trappings of our favorite Jahvillani songs. It is a welcomed check-in from the wileside boss as one of the most dominant artists last year. His career has obviously been propelled into higher echelons since his debut album but it’s good to know that he’s still able to compete with these younger artists.
This single from Busta’s new project The Fuse, is a great addition to the list. It serves as a reminder of the golden era of dancehall music where artists crossed over with relative ease. Many would call it a hip hop song, but this beat is the type of beats that Skillibeng has been using to establish his trap dancehall sound. We can see that’s the case by how well he thrives on the chorus and the verses. Busta provides a sufficient sparring partner for Skilli, as a Jamaican himself with a history as one of hip hop’s most feared MCs. Bullet Proof Skin is a great additiona to playlists with that high energy vibe.
This single from Jamal is the perfect song to anchor our playlist. As the originator of the fully dunce slang, Jamal brings an interesting perspective to the culture. This freestyle/single shows that the term is not literal, but merely a slang to describe the outcasts of the education system. Still, academic intelligence is not the only kind. Obviously Jamal has a knack for language and that is a type of intelligence in its own rite. Lines like “Dem tink me nuh know, the system have a way fi mek yuh work and nuh have nothing fi show”, further highlight that this culture is a response to an obvious flaw in the education system.
In This Story: Busta Rhymes, Jahvillani, Jamal, Masicka, Popcaan, Skillibeng, Topmann, Valiant
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