The Year In Review

Real Dancehall Crossover Hit of the Year: Charly Black “Party Animal”

Real Dancehall Crossover Hit of the Year: Charly Black "Party Animal"

In The Year Of Tropical House, One Actual Jamaican Tune Did Break Through

Dancehall style ruled 2016, but dancehall artists? Not so much. Sure, Sean Paul had a great year thanks to his chart-topping “Cheap Thrills” collab—plus standout tracks with Major Lazer and Tory Lanez. Popcaan continued to reap the rewards of the Unruly/OVO alliance while making noise in Jamrock and the hardcore dancehall diaspora—along with heavy hitters Alkaline and Kartel. But all year long there was really just one Jamaican hit that managed to break all the way from the streets of Kingston to heavy rotation on the worldwide airwaves. The song that elbowed those Rihanna and Justin Bieber joints out of the way to make a space for real dancehall was “Party Animal” by the Top Trelawney General himself, former Bass Odyssey selector Charly Black. It’s been more than two years since Charly voiced the big tune on Kurt Riley’s “Jambe-an Riddim,” and it still has the girls flipping like a Flip-a-Gram all over the world. (Despite the fact that the video on Charly Black’s VEVO channel gets the best line of the lyrics wrong!) The track’s fusion of dancehall, Latin, and soca vibes caught on big in South American markets like Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, allowing Riley to license “Party Animal” to a French company, P2S Records. From there he struck a distribution deal with Universal Music’s Latin division, which led to a  Daddy Yankee remix and, we can only hiope, mucho dinero. As Mr. Black himself might say, “Whoah!” Video After The Jump… Read more »

Boss of the Year: Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley

Boss of the Year: Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley

Junior Gong Is Changing The Game In More Ways Than One

On “The Struggle Discontinues,” a track from Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley’s  forthcoming album Stony Hill, Gongzilla offers a thought-provoking critique of reggae’s long history as “sufferer’s music.” As the tune puts it: “I don’t wanna sing a song that says ‘the struggle live on’… when will we overcome?” It really should come as no surprise that the artist who gave us hits like “Set Up Shop” and “Hard Work” is all about self-determination and economic advancement. “What we need in reggae music is business visionaries,” he says. “We have a lot of creative, artistic visionaries.” With that in mind, 2016 was a massively successful year for Bob Marley’s youngest youth. His Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise completed its third annual outing, selling out an even bigger vessel than ever before. While the cruise has inspired a few imitators—the sincerest form of flattery—WTJRC has been hailed by Billboard as “the genre’s premiere event.” With the 2017 lineup already announced, cabins are filling up fast. Meanwhile, Damian Marley also announced a foray into the booming herb industry—partnering with Ocean Grown Extracts, which recently acquired an abandoned prison in California which is being converted into a ganja grower—a potent symbol of poetic justice. The company has also entered a “joint venture” with Tru Cannabis to open a medical and recreational dispensary across the street from the NFL stadium in Denver—offering a new way to help keep Bronco tailgaters a “Mile High.” Don’t get it twisted—Jr. Gong’s main focus remains music, as evidenced by the anticipation for Stony Hill , the follow-up to his classic, certified Gold, double-Grammy-winning album Welcome To Jamrock. But it’s also true that rather than playing along, Zilla’s determined to change the game. “I’m working toward killing the struggle,” says Marley. “Not killing people’s ambition to better themselves, but killing the feeling that you have to be a struggler.” In recognition of his transformative power moves in 2016, Boomshots names Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley the Boss of the Year. Photos And Video After The Jump… Read more »

Artist of the Year: Popcaan “Nah Idle”

Artist of the Year: Popcaan "Nah Idle"

2016 Was The Unruly Boss’s Biggest Year, As Papi Showed The World How To Over Dweet

Earlier this week Popcaan dropped the official music video for “Nah Idle,” a tune produced by Mini for UK-based E5 Records that pretty much sums up the Unruly Boss’s amazing year. “We nuh beg people, so no bwoy can style me,” Andrae Hugh Sutherland sings in the video as a focused schoolboy does his best to concentrate inside the unruliest classroom imaginable. Way back in February Popcaan posted to his IG a prayer that he wrote when he himself was a schoolboy. “God is real and he did answer that prayer I pray to him a long time ago🙏🏼 #givethanks.” Around that same time Popcaan also released a web documentary called “Abundant Life,” which revealed a whole new side of the artist once known as the “Raving King” as he read from Psalms 40 and 59 above the sound of a crackling fire and the beat of Niyabinghi drums: “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined to me and heard my cry. He also brought me out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay. He set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song into my mouth…” Since that time what a year Popcaan has had: high-profile collabs, soundtracking Nike advertising campaigns, watching Bolt celebrate his Olympic gold with Popcaan’s tune “World Cup,” celebrating his second consecutive MoBO win for Best Reggae Act with a live performance in Scotland, rocking OVO Fest in Toronto, starring alongside Drake in a short film, winning the Red Bull Culture Clash with a custom dubplate of “One Dance.” While it’s true that Popcaan’s vastly superior version of “Controlla” was omitted from Drake’s album Views, so was Jay Z and Kanye West’s version of “Pop Style.” While Kanye ranted about the decision, Popcaan held his peace. Of course Unruly fans were disappointed on the morning the Drake album finally dropped, but while they were busy filling @ChampagnePapi‘s IG with 🍿🍿🍿 emojis, Popcaan was filling their ears with a brand new banger called “Over Dweet.” Although Popcaan’s Instagram seems to depict a mostly carefree life, none of the blessings he enjoys came easy.  Video After The Jump… Read more »

Breakthrough Artist of The Year: Jahmiel

Breakthrough Artist of The Year: Jahmiel

When A Great Man Rise… Recognize

Ever since the days when Sugar Minott strung up his Youth Promotion sound system, reggae music has been about who’s got next. This year the answer was clear, as we witnessed the emergence of a fresh voice that had been crying out for a few years now, but which suddenly became indispensible, as if it had been, and would be, around forever. A voice for the ages. Jahmiel rose to prominence on the strength of a record released in late 2015 entitled “Gain The World,” Showing no signs of losing his soul, the youth Jahmiel dropped gems like “Where Were U” and “Great Man,” investing dancehall music with wisdom beyond his years as he blended the rock-solid reasoning of roots reggae with the freshest digital rhythm tracks. Somehow he accomplished all this without sounding preachy or cliché. Citing Sizzla and Buju Banton as early inspirations, Jahmiel’s sound is utterly his own and his future is wherever he wants to take it. Sing out youth—we’re all listening. Audio After The Jump…
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Unsung Hero of the Year: Sister Nancy

Unsung Hero of the Year: Sister Nancy

What a Bam Bam!

Boomshots sends a special year-end shout out to Dancehall’s Original Muma, Sister Nancy. Alongside featured artists Rihanna and Swizz Beatz, Nancy is the unsung hero of “Famous” by Kanye West, one of the year’s biggest tunes, nominated for two Grammy Awards. For well over a minute of the 3:16 track, Nancy’s voice plays on repeat, the melody slightly pitch-shifted to match RiRi’s, but otherwise unaltered from the 1982 album cut that made her name famous. Big up yourself Muma Nancy. Watch for an in-depth profile coming soon! Video After The Jump…
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Reasoning with Garfield “Chin” Bourne:
“Authentic Sound Clash Culture is in Jeopardy”

Reasoning with Garfield "Chin" Bourne: "Authentic Sound Clash Culture is in Jeopardy"

Keeping Sound System Safe From The Culture Vultures

As co-founder of Irish & Chin, one of the most respected reggae promotion companies in the world, Garfield “Chin” Bourne has left his mark on the music industry and popular culture as a whole. He is the founder of SoundChat Radio and a range of media ventures, but Chin may be best known as a leading advocate of sound system culture at a time where hardcore soundclash audience is aging, and the appropriation of dancehall culture is not limited to international artists reworking Jamaican rhythms to hit the pop charts. The rise of EDM music and the success of the recent Red Bull Culture Clash highlight the impact of Jamaican sound systems on worldwide pop music, even as the originators of the culture who are still active tend to be marginalized.  Interview After The Jump… Read more »

Soundbwoy Burial of the Year: Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise’s Soundclash at Sea

Soundbwoy Burial of the Year: Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise's Soundclash at Sea

Keeping Soundclash Culture Afloat

There are many reasons to love the Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise—the performances, the fans, the total immersion in what the one and only Shinehead has likened to a “Rub-a-dub Disneyland”—but WTJRC’s unfailing support of sound system culture may be the best reason of all. A plethora of legendary sounds—from King Jammy’$ to Stone Love to Metro Media, Bodyguard, Black Scorpio, Bass Odyssey, Downbeat The Ruler, Renaissance Disco, and Mighty Crown—have juggled on board Damian Marley’s cruise over the years, presenting reggae and dancehall music with an intensity of feeling and cultural correctness that no normal disc jockey or cyber playlist could hope to replicate. Moreover, for the past two years WTJRC has presented the world’s first ever Soundclash at Sea, showcasing the excitement of  top-ranking battle-tested selectors going tune for tune in a musical death match with support from respected clash promoters Irish & Chin. Exposing international reggae fans to authentic hardcore sound clash is important for many reasons, especially at a time when Red Bull’s Culture Clash can fill 20,000 capacity arenas. So as Boomshots continues our 2016 Year in Review, we have to acknowledge the rise of the Soundclash at Sea, which is both a burial and a resurrenction of sorts. Video & Photos After The Jump… Read more »

This Year’s Best Dancehall Christmas Songs

This Year's Best Dancehall Christmas Songs

Reshma B Selects The Sounds To Get Your Holiday Party Poppin’

The Reggae Girl About Town’s new Murda She Wrote column just dropped on Pigeons & Planes, and it’s right on time to help your Christmas jam tun up: “There’s nothing better than Christmas in Jamaica—not just because the balmy Caribbean weather beats a polar vortex every time, but because Jamaicans love Christmas with a passion. The parties start in early December and run all the way through the top of the new year… and the most festive thing of all is the music. Over the years, thousands of reggae Christmas tunes have flooded the internet, but here are Murda She Wrote’s picks for the hottest this year. Full List After The Jump… Read more »

The Biggest Dancehall Riddims of 2016

The Biggest Dancehall Riddims of 2016

Who Run The Place? Johnny Wonder, CEO of 21st Hapilos, Counts Down The Year’s Top Juggling

With Rihanna’s “Work” dominating mainstream airwaves all year, you might think Richie Stephens’ “Sail Away” riddim would take the top spot. Yes that was hot in the streets ten years ago, and shout out to OVO for bringing it back. But here at Boomshots we’re all about the music’s progress forward into the future—and celebrating the innovators over the imitators. After all the Tropical House hype dies down, where does reggae and dancehall go from here? Few people are better qualified to chart the music’s movements than Johnny Wonder, CEO of 21st Hapilos Digital, the leading digital distributor of new reggae and dancehall music from Jamaica. As the man who breaks most big riddims first, Johnny Wonder’s ranking is based strictly on facts—streams and sales—and never payola or politricks. So if you want to know who ran the place in 2016, look no further. Riddim Countdown After The Jump… Read more »