Dancehall

Reasoning with Daddy U Roy The Original Dancehall Teacher

Reasoning with Daddy U Roy The Original Dancehall Teacher

Paying Respect to a Pioneer of Deejay Music

The race is not for the swift, but who can endure it. And Jamaica’s foundation deejay Daddy U Roy is still setting the pace. Ewart Beckford, O.D., known to lovers of Jamaican music as U-Roy aka Daddy U Roy the Teacher, passed away last night at the age of 78. As a pioneer of Jamaican deejay music, aka toasting, aka the birth of dancehall, U Roy’s impact on popular music worldwide cannot be overstated.

In the video for Rah Digga’s “Imperial,” Busta Rhymes shakes his locks into the camera and proclaims that “This station rules the nation with version.” Ardent students of reggae roots will recognize the line as a direct lift from “Rule the Nation,” a musical blast from 1970 that forever changed the soundscape of Jamaica, sending tsunami-sized ripples out from the little island that rocked the world. Never before had an instrumental “version” of a popular song been combined with straight-from-the-dancehall microphone toasting to create a hit single. Working with legendary rock-steady producer Duke Reid, a smooth-talking called U Roy scored not one but three big tunes. “Wake The Town” and “Wear You to the Ball” completed U Roy’s six-week lock on the top three positions in the Jamaican charts, and proved that deejaying (or, as Yankees would rename it, rapping) was here to stay.  Interview Continues After The Jump… Read more »

Skillibeng Creates “Cinema for Ears” on ‘The Prodigy’ Skilltape

Skillibeng Creates "Cinema for Ears" on 'The Prodigy' Skilltape

Reasoning With Mr. Universe

It’s not easy to make a name for yourself in the midst of a viral pandemic, but as Skillibeng explains on his smash hit “Mr. Universe,” he’s built for this. “From before Corona me social distance,” spits Skilli, who celebrated his 24th birthday today with the release of his highly anticipated project, The Prodigy Skilltape, and an interview with Reshma B of Boomshots. It’s been a breakthrough year for the artist known as The Fresh Prince. On the strength of his relentless creativity and tireless work ethic, Skillibeng has emerged as the face of dancehall’s new era. Video After The Jump…
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Buju Banton’s ‘Til Shiloh’ Marks 25 Year Milestone

Buju Banton's 'Til Shiloh' Marks 25 Year Milestone

Reasoning With The Gargamel On The Making of a Classic

Before Buju’s landmark album Til Shiloh was released in 1995, he stopped by the VIBE offices to give me a preview. We shut the door of my office, popped a cassette in the stereo, and burned a spliff in the middle of the day while I heard songs like “Untold Stories” and “Til I’m Laid to Rest” for the first time. Songs like “Champion” and “Murderer” were already dancehall anthems, as was the late Garnet Silk’s “Complaint,” which Buju had enhanced with his raggamuffin DJ flow. As we wrapped up the listening session it became clear to me that Buju had created a timeless classic. A quarter of a century later, Buju has gone over many hills and valleys and he’s still standing strong. He appeared on the cover of VIBE in celebration of his long-awaited album, Upside Down 2020, which has since been nominated for a Best Reggae Album Grammy Award. And today Til Shiloh, recently certified gold by the Recording Industry Institute of America, marks its 25th anniversary with a deluxe reissue that features three exciting new tracks. In honor of the occasion, here is the converstion we had on that day back in 1995.  Interview After The Jump… Read more »

WATCH THIS: Stonebwoy and Davido Connect In The “ACTIVATE” Music Video #PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Stonebwoy and Davido Connect In The "ACTIVATE" Music Video #PREMIERE

Ghana x Nigeria Link Up

We last tapped in with Ghana’s Afro-Dancehall monarch Stonebwoy when he premiered his “Blaze Dem” freestyle on VIBE x Boomshots to follow up the victory lap for his Anloga Junction album. Now he’s joined forces with Nigerian Afrobeats superstar Davido, who’s fresh off the relase of his album A Better Time, which features collabs with Nicki Minaj, Young Thug, Chris Brown, Nas and Hit-Boy. “The inspiration behind this song is to ACTIVATE positive energy,” says  Stonebwoy. “To ACTIVATE love and to ACTIVATE on the dance floor and see the combination of Afrobeats and Dancehall take over the world.” Stone & David have known each other as far back as 2015, but “Activate” marks their first time collaborating. More than just popular entertainers, both artists are using their platforms for positive works. Davido has been on the front lines of the resistance movement against Nigeria’s abusive SARS police unit, while Stonebwoy recently led a massive march to promote peace and unity and good health in Ghana. The song was born out of a spontaneous vibe whilst Davido was on a weekend trip from Nigeria to Ghana. The video was shot the following day.​ VIBE and Boomshots are proud to premiere the visuals. Watch as two African icons come together to create musical magic. Video After The Jump…
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WATCH THIS: Runkus “Quarantine Slide” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Runkus "Quarantine Slide" Official Music Video PREMIERE

Facetime Flexin’ with the Ladies

Fresh off the success of his futuristic posse cut “5Gz,”—which featured the lyrical onslaught of Kabaka Pyramid, Jesse Royal, Royal Blu, and Munga Honorable—Runkus returns on a solo flex with fresh sounds called “Quarantine Slide.” Son of the brilliant if under-rated dancehall DJ Determine, Runkus was surrounded by music from an early age, and raised in an era where Jamaican youth were exposed to diverse outernational influences. “Our generation grew up on MTV and BET, so anything the international market showed us is what we drew to,” he told The Gleaner last year. “The first rapper I loved on my own was Missy Elliott, then I got into Timbaland productions, Lil Wayne, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac… At the same time, I got into other sounds, like Erykah Badu, Nina Simone, Justine Timberlake, all while listening to Vybz Kartel.” The dreamy synth-driven production on his latest release—courtesy of Runkus and Universal Zinc Fence from the Soul Circle family—bears traces of those diverse influences, including shout-outs to the WorlBoss and Shawn Storm. “The song was just an inspiration of the times,” says Runkus. “For those who are stuck inside with their significant others and for those who are stuck inside on their own, wanting to slide [lol]. We have to move forward but I wouldn’t advise anyone to get used to this as the ‘new normal’ but to create a new normal for themselves and loved ones, cause we only have each other.” Today Boomshots proudly premieres the brand new music video from Runkus. “The video was inspired by just being stuck inside,” says the artist / producer, “and thinking of the best most efficient way of displaying wanting to slide in the quarantine time — hence the constant calls.” Video After The Jump… Read more »

WATCH THIS: Sizzla “Without You” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Sizzla "Without You" Official Music Video PREMIERE

Some Sweet Love Songs From Kalonji

“Righteousness will always get a fight,” Sizzla Kalonji once told me, “and that is only to make you stronger.” That conversation took place in 1997, he year Sizzla electrified lovers of reggae and dancehall music with two landmark albums, Praise Ye Jah and Black Woman & Child. Sizzla has gone on to become one of the most prolific artists of his generation, releasing his most recent album, Million Times in September—a collection of 12 sweet love songs, touching on the sounds that made songs like “Just One of Those Days” and “Give Me A Try” so legendary. “Beautiful people want to listen to the beautiful reggae music,” Sizzla told me. “And you know reggae bashes against corruption. It’s not just a music to sing spirituality only and to make you feel good and sing love songs, conscious songs. And it’s good for social commentary, a very good music to be used for social commentary. And any little thing happen to the poor people, we’re quick to express ourselves on dancehall riddims and on the one-drop roots rock reggae riddim. And what we’re explaining and expressing is the total truth. It’s a music that can be used for expressing our innermost feelings and thoughts.” Today VIBE and Boomshots proudly premiere the new music video from the album “Without You.” Big Up Kalonji every time.  Video After The Jump…
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WATCH THIS: David Lyn “Keep Moving” Visualizer PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: David Lyn "Keep Moving" Visualizer PREMIERE

Straight From Miami Via Tuff Gong Studios

David Lyn grew up in Miami, surrounded by music from an early age. A Jamaican-American youth who loved Michael Jackson and Usher as well as the stars of his island homeland, David was 13 years old when he got into the studio with his stepbrother, Andron Cross, now known to the world as Grammy-Award Winning Producer IzyBeats. Today Boomshots premieres the latest step on his musical journey, the visualizer for his song “Keep Moving,” recorded in Kingston Jamaica at Bob Marley’s legendary Tuff Gong recording studio. The song will be part of David Lyn’s forthcoming EP, Any Day Now. “Smooth seas never made a skilled sailor,” David points out. “No matter how big the waves get we must stay the course and keep moving.” Video After The Jump… Read more »

Murda She Wrote October 2020

Murda She Wrote October 2020

Unruly Boss Covers Reshma B’s Column on Tidal

At the end of each month, the Reggae Girl About Town rounds up the top tunes for her “Murda She Wrote” column on Tidal. If you’re looking for October’s wickedest selections, you’ve come to the right place. This month’s lineup features certified Boomshots by Popcaan, Chronixx, Spragga Benz & Konshens, and Skillibeng. It’s Murda!

Jamaica is a small island with an outsized impact on the world. “We likkle but we tallawah” is the local phrase that sums it up best. “Likkle” means “little,” of course, while “tallawah” is a patois term describing someone who’s “strong-willed, fearless and not to be taken lightly.” All of which is a good description for Popcaan, the 5-foot-6 musical giant who looms larger than ever over the global dancehall scene.  Music After The Jump… Read more »

WATCH THIS: Elephant Man “Skankers” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Elephant Man "Skankers" Official Music Video PREMIERE

“Dis Yah One Yah Make The Dancer Dem Madd”

“All of us put in work to try leave the ghetto,” said Elephant Man as he made his debut in the pages of VIBE back in April 1998. “That’s a feeling that really can’t leave you.” Posing in the photo shoot with an iced-out pachyderm pendant dangling from his next, Elly and his bredrens from the Scare Dem Crew—Boom Dandimite, Harry Toddler, and Nitty Kutchie—made it all the way from Seaview Gardens, one of Kingston’s hardest neighborhoods, to a full-page write up in VIBE’s NEXT section, the magazine’s showcase for “People on the Verge.” It was a good day—but Elephant was just getting started. The legendary dancehall icon would go on to share stages with Usher and Chris Brown, collab with Missy Elliott and Lil Jon, perform live on the nationally televised VIBE Awards, and sign a deal with Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Records. Throughout it all, he continued repping Jamaican dancehall culture to the fullest. They say an Elephant never forgets.Video After The Jump… Read more »

Untold Stories: How Johnny Wonder Buss Bounty Killer

Untold Stories: How Johnny Wonder Buss Bounty Killer

“Big Up Yourself Johnny Wonder”

You don’t have to be a dancehall head to know Bounty Killer. He featured on No Doubt’s Grammy-winning pop smash “Hey Baby” and lit up Instagram this May during his epic Verzuz battle with Beenie Man. Arguably the most influential artist in modern dancehall history, Bounty Killer is thoroughly respected for many reasons—his prolific catalog of recordings, his stylistic impact on the art of deejaying, his advocacy for ghetto youths, not to mention the many artists he personally helped to “buss,” or break into the music business. Even the most casual dancehall fan should be aware of the major stars who benefited from Killer’s support early in their careers. Without Killer’s co-sign the world might never have experienced the talents of Elephant Man, Mavado, Busy Signal, or Vybz Kartel—to name just a few. With no Kartel we’d have no Portmore Empire, no Popcaan, and so on and so forth. But who helped Bounty Killer buss? The usual answer is to that question is King Jammy, who did produce Killer’s breakout hit “Copper Shot.” But how did that song become a hit? As Peter Tosh once sang, “half the story has never been told.” The world might not know this legend of Jamaican dancehall if not for an Italian youth from Brooklyn named Johnny Wonder.   Full Story After The Jump… Read more »

WATCH THIS: Agent Sasco ft. Bounty Killer & Kabaka Pyramid “Loco” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Agent Sasco ft. Bounty Killer & Kabaka Pyramid "Loco" Official Music Video PREMIERE

“New Generation A Come Up Now”

Ever since Sasco linked up with TeflonZincFence to create “Loco,” it was clear that this was a special record. Teflon’s stripped-down beat hit like blunt force trauma, inspiring the artist formerly known as Assassin to serve up some of his hardest lyrics since Hope River. While speaking from a streetwise perspective, Sasco’s witty rhymes also expressed his concern for the youth—somewhere between Whitney’s “Greatest Love of All” and Slick Rick’s “Hey Young World.” The song took on a life of its own, as great songs do, and the streets demanded a remix. (One YouTube commenter suggested Sasco link up with Koffee and call the tune “Cocoa,” but I digress.) As fate would have it, Sasco recruited Killer and Kabaka for the remix, delivering a lyrical onslaught that was every bit as mad as the title suggests. Today Boomshots premieres the highly anticipated visuals for the remix—somewhat reminiscent of Biggie’s classic “Sky’s The Limit” video. “I’m very excited about the release of the ‘Loco Remix’ video,” says Sasco. “We went for a different concept which has my son, Joshua performing as me. He’s definitely excited for the release. It’s gonna be Loco!” How did Joshua do in his first starring role? As Sasco’s mentor dancehall legend Spragga Benz observed, “Weezy have di bounce.” Video After The Jump…
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WATCH THIS: TeeJay “Rags to Riches” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: TeeJay "Rags to Riches" Official Music Video PREMIERE

“UpTop Means Progress Overall”

The first time TeeJay linked up with Boomshots he was chilling out in the Bronx, braffin’ as usual, having just returned from a shopping spree with some fresh gear. During a streetside interview, Reshma B asked him the meaning of UpTop. “UpTop means progress overall,” he explained as cars drove past. “You know, if you up, you showing progress. Staying up, going up on a different level in life. I’m always going up in life.” The youth born Timoy Janeyo Jones was raised in the Glendevon section of Montego Bay and grew up in a musical family, recording songs with his older brothers from an early age. Since signing with Romeich Entertainment he has continued to level up, emerging as one of the most versatile dancehall stars of the new generation. Today Boomshots premieres the music video for his latest hit “Rags to Riches,” produced by Damage Musiq. “I came up with a bit of fusion reggae drums and R&B synth that gave that island vibe feeling where you just want to reminisce and be happy,” says the producer whose Billionaire Sheik Riddim provides the musical backdrop for the tune. “What inspires me to sing ‘Rags to Riches’ is the things that I have been through in life back then an’ where I am now today,” says TeeJay. “The people I am surrounded by and the things that we do, I used all those things and turned it into art. Poverty was an inspiration to me, so I wrote this song to motivate other people to show them that nothing is impossible in life an’ they should never give up.” Shot on location in MoBay by Xtreme Arts, the visuals show the UpTop boss leveling up from zinc fence streets to mansions and pool parties. Video After The Jump… Read more »