Latest entries

Bounty & Beenie on Verzuz: Jamaica’s version of ‘The Last Dance’

Bounty & Beenie on Verzuz: Jamaica's version of 'The Last Dance'

What Could Top This Legendary Moment?

 

The VERZUZ series led by Swizz Beats and Timbaland has been an oasis in the midst of a pandemic. Week after week, music lovers have enjoyed the nostalgia, the spontaneous comedy, and the opportunity to bring the proverbial roses to their favorite artists. 

The anticipation was at a fever pitch when it was announced that dancehall giants, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, would headline VERZUZ for a Memorial Day soundclash. 

Excitement mixed with anxiety. Dancehall fans have always wanted our music to receive its proper due on the global stage. It is a great genre that has birthed hip-hop, reggaeton, Afrobeat, influenced the sound of songs on the top 40 but does not always receive its rightful recognition. 

For these legendary artists, their fans, and dancehall culture overall, the stakes were high, to say the least. Would the VERZUZ audience, primarily Hip-Hop and R&B fans, receive these giants well? Would their misunderstanding—or even worse, ridicule—lead to embarrassment? Story Continues After The Jump…
Read more »

Dre Island Elevates With Debut Album ‘Now I Rise’

Dre Island Elevates With Debut Album 'Now I Rise'

“We rise to the top… cause we know what it takes”

“We rise to the top,” Dre Island sings on “We Pray,” his massive collab with Popcaan, “cause we know what it takes.” Building on that theme of musical and spiritual elevation, the multi-talented musician—singer, deejay, songwriter, producer, and pianist—has just released his debut album Now I Rise. The project features the aforementioned “We Pray” as well as crucial collaborations with the likes of Jesse Royal and Chronixx. “Ah mi family dem deh,” says Dre Island, who has toured Europe backed by Chronixx’s band Zincfence Redemption. A graduate of Kingston’s Calabar high school—alma mater of both Jr. Gong and Vybz Kartel—Andre Johnson aka Dre Island is a living link between the vaunted “roots revival” movement and the sound of the Jamaican streets. “The revival is really within the people,” he says. “Reggae music never stop. Reggae artists always been touring. So it’s just the people’s awareness.” During a time when reggae and dancehall stand at a crossroads, Dre Island has emerged as one of the few artists capable of bringing together dancehall vibes and the ancient roots traditions—not to mention outernational connections like “People” his collaboration with UK talents Cadenza and Jorja Smith. “An island is a small land mass surrounded by water,” the artist told Boomshots correspondent Reshma B in their first interview. “But if you read further it’s also a place where you go to find yourself.” Video After The Jump…  Read more »

Tune For Tune: Breaking Down Bounty & Beenie’s Verzuz Battle

Tune For Tune: Breaking Down Bounty & Beenie's Verzuz Battle

Jamaica Won, The Culture Won—no doubt about it—But Which Selections Won?

 

Why was this night different from all other Verzuz battles? Streamed live from Kingston, Jamaica, the Memorial Day “Soundclash Edition” of Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s flagship IG Live series was easily the most exciting and entertaining yet, as well as the first to delve into dancehall reggae. Considering the fact that Jamaican sound systems pioneered the sort of “beat battles” have made Verzuz a social media sensation well over half a century ago, the creative decision was more than fitting. By pitting two icons of the genre, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man, in head-to-head competition, this Verzuz battle did not just showcase two of its most respected lyricists ever to hold a microphone, it also tapped into an epic rivalry that stretches back more than a quarter of a century. Audio & Video After The Jump… Read more »

The Art of War: Bounty Killer Verzuz Beenie Man

The Art of War: Bounty Killer Verzuz Beenie Man

Dancehall Icons Speak on Rivalry & Respect 

Ever since the whole Swizz Beatz and Timbaland created social media battle platform Verzuz wave kicked off, bringing a much-needed spark of joy and excitement to the dreadful pandemic grind, those of us who love and respect dancehall music and Jamaican sound system culture have been asking ourselves when (if ever) the world would finally recognize that this whole digital sensation was based on the concept of sound clash. Which is to say that it’s all rooted in the rich history of Jamaican music, which gave us cultural icons like Bob Marley (respect is always due) and Kool Herc, who became The Godfather of Hip Hop by transplanting Yard-style sound system tactics/techniques/technology to the Bronx, and King Tubby the Dub master (who really invented the remix way before Puff Daddy) and Daddy U-Roy, who became the world’s first “rap star” by recording three chart-topping hits in 1969 that served to “Wake The Town and Tell The People” that “deejay” music was not just a matter of toasting and boasting in the dancehall, it was an art form unto itself. Video After The Jump… Read more »

WATCH THIS: Kemikal “Gwaan” Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Kemikal "Gwaan" Music Video PREMIERE

Enigmatic Equiknoxx DJ brings “Gal power from the man dem” 

We always take time out to check the vibes from Equiknoxx co-founders Gavin “Gavsborg” Blair and Jordan “Time Cow” Chung. Today we’re proud to premiere a brand new release from Kemikal, an enigmatic artist whom Gavsborg describes as “a lab experiment between Big Pun mixed with Tiger.” Take a moment to let that sink in. OK? Good. Part of the Equiknoxx crew since the 2010s, Kemikal has scored hits superficially with the Polish dancehall community such as “La La La” on the Jim Screechie Riddim. He also recorded cuts on classic Equiknoxx riddims such as: Kamera Trick, White Label, Wash Belly, Gypsy Time as well as collaborating with the likes of Alozade, Chico, J.O.E & T.O.K. Now that you’re up to speed, pree the brand new sup’m called “Gwaan.” Contempt for “peeping toms” and “the male gaze” might seem unlikely within dancehall, but “Gwaan” says freedom of female expression is a must. No social media body shaming round yah so! Video After The Jump…  Read more »

WATCH THIS: Sean Paul “Back It Up Deh” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Sean Paul "Back It Up Deh" Official Music Video PREMIERE

Peep SP’s IGTV Interview With Reshma B

As the first—and only—dancehall artist to appear on the cover of VIBE magazine, Sean Paul has been making history and breaking down musical barriers throughout his career. The Grammy-winning hitmaker has collaborated with some of the biggest stars in urban music, from Beyoncé and Rihanna to DMX and Busta Rhymes, but his come-up was driven by raw uncut dancehall straight off the streets of Jamaica. After more than 20 years in the game, Sean is still going strong, dropping his dutty flow alongside the likes of Stefflon Don, Jhene Aiko, and Dua Lipa. But he’s not just the go-to for a hot yardstyle 16, he’s also an accomplished producer. Sean’s Dutty Rock Productions label has released riddims like “Rope,” “Gang Gang,” “No Caption,” and “Callaloo.” Today VIBE premieres Sean’s latest production, “Back It Up Deh,” a song that pays tribute to the dancehall queens who bust moves when the riddim drops. “I used to want to go to see what the ladies was wearing,” Sean Paul recalled in an exclusive interview with Reshma B. “It was just very sensual outfitting. And then the dancing, it was so free. That’s what I really loved about the culture as a kid. You got involved.” Although street dances are on pause during these quarantine times, Sean’s latest release, and the high-energy video might just have you backing it up while you shelter in place. Video After The Jump… Read more »

Top Shotta: Video Director Kieran Khan

Top Shotta: Video Director Kieran Khan

“Success is no accident”

Born in Guayana, raised in the Bronx, and now based in Toronto, Kieran Khan has built a reputation as one of the most in-demand video directors on today’s dancehall scene. The umbe and hard-working visual craftsman is fond of quoting football legend Pele, who once said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” When Kieran suddenly found himself catapulted into success as the official videographer to international stars like Sean Paul and Cardi B, it was a moment that had been over a decade in the making, but which unfolded in the blink of an eye. Ten years of focus, perseverance, sacrifice, learning on the fly and prompt turnaround, combined with his down-to-earth, charismatic persona has finally paid off. But Khan’s work ethic continues to be his driving force. Consistently rising to the occasion even under strenuous circumstances, Khan has learned that dreams can come true in the blink of an eye. Fresh off the release of his latest collaboration with Sean Paul, “Back It Up Deh,” Boomshots asked Kieran to share some of the stories behind his most memorable productions. Check out the first edition of our new series, focusing on the visual artists who bring the music to life, “Top Shotta.” Videos After The Jump…
Read more »

WATCH THIS: Etana “Truly” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Etana "Truly" Official Music Video PREMIERE

“First Time I Saw Your Eyes…”

The first we heard Etana sing we knew she had a special gift. This was back in the mid2000s when the young vocalist had stepped out from her role providing harmonies for Richie Spice to sing her own songs. Etana had stopped by the NYC offices of VIBE magazine to drop off her new video for a powerful song called “Wrong Address” and decided to bless us with an acapella performance. Wow. The sheer power of her delivery left no doubt in anyone’s mind that we were truly in the presence of greatness. Since then we’ve watched the rest of the world catch onto what we understood that day. Etana has grown into a world-renowned recording artist who made history for women in reggae with her 2018 Grammy nomination. So it gives Boomshots a great sense of satisfaction to present the world premiere of Etana’s new music video today. “‘Truly’ was written to inspire more strength in Love,” the singer says. “This one takes my mind into a place where love is deep and sweet.” As Etana lets her voice fly over a warm & easy lovers rock groove the result is magic—and the visuals match the vibe perfectly. Ready for some real Lovers Rock? Video After The Jump… Read more »

WATCH THIS: Salaam Remi x Mumu Fresh “EmOG’s” Viral Video

WATCH THIS: Salaam Remi x Mumu Fresh "EmOG's" Viral Video

#StayYoAssInside

Salaam Remi is a creative force who specializes in timeless sounds—but as fate would have it, the visuals in his directorial debut are extremely timely. Never one to chase trends, the producer who’s collaborated with iconic artists like Nas, Amy Winehouse, The Fugees, Spragga Benz, Miguel, and J Cole prefers to Do It For The Culture. Appropriately enough, the most recent full-length release on Remi’s own Louder Than Life imprint is entitled Do it for the Culture 2 —a collection of 25 singles that showcase the producer’s mastery of diverse musical styles ranging from Hip Hop to Jazz, and of course Dancehall. His latest collab, a lilting R&B joint called “EmOGs,” showcases the yearning vocal stylings of Maimouna Youssef aka Mumu Fresh. Recorded back in November—just as the Corona Virus was first wreaking havoc in China—the song’s original concept was the familiar dilemma of a loyal girlfriend pleading with her man to stay off the corner. “You’d rather hug the block than hug me,” Mumu sings. “This ain’t Paid in Full in the 80s / You see what that did to DC / That Ain’t work out good for them OG’s emOG’s.” Fast forward to mid-April, and the song is dropping just as America has become the epicenter of a global Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, discussions about whether to step outside have led to life and death decisions in a whole new way. Remi recognized the opportunity to share an urgent and message and decided to flip “Em OGs” to “emojis,” creating a viral video about the importance of self-quarantining. The visuals were created in one day via iPhone whilst artist, actors, and producer/director were all socially distanced in their respective bunkers. The music video has morphed into a PSA that’s been shared by celebrities including Nas, Common, and Niecy Nash with the no-nonsense hashtag #StayYoAssInSide. Spoiler alert: fans of The Wire should watch the video until the very end! Video After The Jump…

Read more »

HEAR THIS: Unified Highway “The Truth” PREMIERE

HEAR THIS: Unified Highway "The Truth" PREMIERE

Brand New Sounds From The Dynamic Duo

In the words of Robert Nesta Marley, “The truth is an offense, but not a sin.” The lyrics of Bob Marley’s song “Jah Live ” ring out even truer than ever in this era of fake news and propaganda spin with lives hanging in the balance. The latest single from Unified Highway finds the dynamic duo of Eric Rachmany (lead vocalist for Rebelution) and DJ/remixer Amp Live (formerly of Zion I) opens with an uncomfortably harsh statement “You’ve been lied to.” One of the last songs written for UH’s new album Headlines, which drops April 24th, “The Truth” floats along on a stark digital rhythm driven by synth chops as cold as a politician’s heart. “It couldn’t come at a more relevant time considering all the different statistics and statements presented by government and media,” said the band via email. “It makes you wonder what truly is factual. Even without lyrics, this song tells its own story instrumentally.” Audio After The Jump…

Read more »

UTG Carry On Family Legacy With ‘Skinny Jeans’ EP

UTG Carry On Family Legacy With 'Skinny Jeans' EP

Likkle Addi & Likkle Vybz Bring That UpTown Greatness

As a new decade dawns in 2020, a new era in Jamaican music has arrived with the rise of UTG, also known as Uptown Greatness. Over the previous 10 years, Vybz Kartel set the standard as dancehall’s undisputed World Boss, re-branding his Portmore ends as “Di Gaza” and sparking a cultural movement that bubbled up from the streets and shifted global pop culture. Now Likkle Vybz and Likkle Addi are taking that energy to another dimension, blessed to live a lifestyle made possible by their father’s success and their mother’s loving guidance. Building on that solid foundation, the teenage brothers are stepping up to carry the torch with their debut album ‘Skinny Jeans’ produced by Short Boss Music and distributed by Johnny Wonder. The album dropped today and the brothers are already featured on the cover of Tidal’s Dancehall Rising playlist. Audio After The Jump…
Read more »

Busy Signal Is “Blessed With Versatility” On ‘Parts of The Puzzle’

Busy Signal Is "Blessed With Versatility" On 'Parts of The Puzzle'

New Album Shows Off Turf President’s Creativity

Busy Signal shows off the full range of his creativity on his long-awaited album Parts of the Puzzle which drops today on V.P. Records. Displaying his mastery of hardcore Dancehall, smooth Lovers Rock, and classic Roots Reggae, Busy also ventures into the Afrobeats space. The 17-track set opens with Busy’s smash hit “Stay So” (which has racked up close to 35 million views on YouTube) and goes on to include bangers like “Dolla Van” and “Got to Tell You” as well as collaborations with Afro B, dancehall O.G. Josey Wales, and Busy’s longtime mentor Bounty Killer. In short it’s a full-course musical feast that no reggae or dancehall fan should miss. During a recent visit to NYC Busy joined the Reggae Girl About Town at Negril Village restaurant. They tested out the hot sauce while discussing all the ins and outs and intricacies of the Hot Head’s creative process. Video After The Jump…

Read more »