Jamaica

DJ Frass Sees “No Limit” for Dancehall in 2021

DJ Frass Sees "No Limit" for Dancehall in 2021

Moyann & Shenseea Power The New Sunroof Riddim

“Artists like Koffee and Shenseea are opening the door for younger artists like myself,” says rising dancehall star Moyann, who covers the March edition of Tidal’s Murda She Wrote dancehall column by Reshma B. “Everything starts from somewhere.” It’s been three years since Moyann first broke onto the scene as a fresh-faced teenager, but she’s been on her musical journey for a lot longer than that. “This has always been a passion for me, from a tender age,” Moyann tells Reshma B. “I’d always be singing in the mirror, visualizing myself as an artist, performing in front of my mom, my sister, my dad.” In 2018 the Montego Bay native borrowed her sister’s phone and recorded a video of herself spitting lyrics while playing a riddim on her own phone. Thankfully she didn’t overthink anything and DM’d the homemade demo to producer DJ Frass. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m just gonna send it and if it happens, it happens.’” Frass soon hit her back and the rest is history. Her latest song, a massively catchy collab with Shenseea, lifts Moyann to a new level and defies the narrative that female artists don’t support one another. “Haters vex ca’ me bless but me nah stress,” the girls sing. “Me have one live fe live and me nah have one fuck fi give.” Say it louder, girls! Audio & Video After The Jump…

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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 »

WATCH THIS: Yaadcore “Tension” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Yaadcore "Tension" Official Music Video PREMIERE

Ask Nuh Question, Nuh Badda Mention

Did you ever notice something about this journey called life? Funny how sometimes your moment of elevation is the same moment people around you start to feel you gone past your place. When things come to bump, you may be surprised to know who might end up praying for your downfall. More time you find the situation can lead to tension. Like just this morning, Yaadcore forward with a. big new tune. Caan say you never know—it’s been all over social media all weekend. In case you never get the memo, the top rootsman selector of this generation has his own label imprint 12 Yaad Records—because who better to curate some serious sounds? Elevation we say. And yes, he’s an artist too because why not?  Video After the Jump…  

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Watch The Documentary ‘Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes’

Watch The Documentary 'Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes'

New Doc Tells the Truth About Jamaica’s Recording Industry

Lee “Scratch” Perry has seen it all. The notoriously eccentric reggae producer, vocalist, and visionary has created classics with artists ranging from Bob Marley & The Wailers to The Clash and The Beastie Boys. A literal living legend, he may be the only person on earth to have collaborated and quarreled with such iconic Jamaican producers as Coxsone Dodd, Joe Gibbs, and King Tubby—and outlived them all. When he burned his own Black Ark studio to the ground in 1979, people called him a madman, but Scratch just has his own way of doing things.

One rainy night in the English countryside, the British filmmaker Reshma B sat with Scratch in a spooky old mansion, interviewing the man who’s also known as The Upsetter, The Super Ape, and Pipecock Jackxon for her film Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes, which has its worldwide debut today on Quincy Jones’s Qwest.TV and Jay-Z’s Tidal. Video and Full Story After the Jump…
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HEAR THIS: Runkus ‘IN:SIDE’ Album PREMIERE

HEAR THIS: Runkus 'IN:SIDE' Album PREMIERE

When We’re Not Outside, Take Care of In:Side

One of the few redeeming aspects of the year 2020 was the emergence of Runkus as a force to be reckoned with at the forefront of Jamaica’s vibrant music scene. As with many so-called “overnight success” stories, most of the rise of this multitalented singer, deejay, rapper, and producer has occurred under the radar. Or, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow so memorably put it:

The heights by great men reached and kept
      Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
      Were toiling upward in the night.

Back in the Christmas season of 2014, Runkus popped up on the Reshma B Chains pop-up shop at Manor Park Plaza in Kingston. Identifying himself as “Paula’s son, aka Determine bwoy, aka Joyce grandson, aka Pam nephew” the tall, slim dreadlocks youth with a wide-brimmed hat proceeded to unleash a lyrical barrage alternating between dreamy spliff-fueled melodies and furious fast-chat syllables that promised greater things to come. Flash forward to this past November, when Runkus rolled out his witty “Quarantine Slide” visuals with Boomshots. Today he blesses us with a full album on the Delicious Vinyl Island label, aptly entitled IN:SIDE. “The project came about simply from the times,” says the artist and producer who lists Missy Elliott, Timbaland, and Vybz Kartel—not to mention his brilliantly inventive father Determine—as musical influences. “Being locked down in my home city, Portmore, under order of the Government,” he says, “I took to the only thing I knew, music. In a trying time, it was my salvation.” Album & Videos After The Jump… 

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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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“Dreams To Remember” Happy Birthday Toots

"Dreams To Remember" Happy Birthday Toots

Memories of A Legend On His Earthstrong

 

“Ready?” asked the drummer. “Yes sir!” Toots Hibbert replied.

The year was 1968, and Toots and the Maytals were about to make history at Federal recording studio in Kingston, Jamaica.

The drummer, Winston Grennan of Beverley’s All-Stars, counted off “1, 2…” and the band began to play a brand new sound. The fast-paced ska beat that took Jamaica by storm in the early ’60s had given way to a slower, sweeter sound known as rock steady around 1966. But on this day, the Maytals — a vocal trio comprising Toots and his friends Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Mathias — were cutting a song called “Do the Reggay.”

Where rock steady songs were more delicate and romantic, the reggae beat was raw and muscular.

“I want to do the reggay with you,” Toots sang, his powerful voice cutting through the rhythm.

“Yeah yeah!” Raleigh and Jerry harmonized.

“Is this the new dance?” Toots went on. “Going around the town?” As soon as their song hit the streets, everybody in Kingston town wanted to do the new dance too.

Toots said the name was inspired by Jamaican slang for girls you see on the street. “From streggae to reggae,” he explained.

If you can sing a song that spawns an entire genre, that’s something. But if that genre goes on to impact global culture for the next half a century or so, you must truly be something special, someone astonishing. “Reggae has gone around the world now,” Toots told me in 2016. “And I never copyright it. If I had charged like a few cents, one cent, I would be a millionaire now.” Full Story 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 »

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 »

Reasoning with Skillibeng “I’m Still Trying To Write My Best Song”

Reasoning with Skillibeng  "I’m Still Trying To Write My Best Song"

“New Flows Always”

“Victory with an easy entrance” proclaimed Skillibeng on his dubplate for Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness ahead of the landslide victory in the 2020 election. Likewise, Skilli himself has been victorious this year in spite of the global pandemic, establishing himself as Jamaica’s new force, specialising in elevating lyrical standards. Seen by many as a face of the rising Trap Dancehall wave, the 23-year old reflects influences ranging from Vybz Kartel to deceased US drill bastion, Pop Smoke, paying tribute in remix of club-smash “Dior.”

Born in the eastern parish of St. Thomas, his passionate East Syder fanbase grows exponentially on a daily basis, drawn in by inventive flows and sharp lyricism. The vibrant countryside parish, better known historically for Paul Bogle, the Morant Bay Rebellion and rich Afrocentric traditions, is one of the trending regions for talents in dancehall. Skillibeng is the latest attraction alongside 6ixx’s Chronic Law and the unstoppable OVO-signed, Gaza-alumni star, Popcaan.

With co-signs ranging from Jamaican pocket rocket Koffee, incarcerated reigning dancehall king Vybz Kartel to rapper Young MA, the lyrical technician is making huge strides in his relatively new career. Since breaking through in early 2019 with the acclaimed Prodigy mixtape, a slew of releases including guest spots on Jada Kingdom’s popular mixtape E-Syde Queen: The Twinkle Playlist, the weed ode “50 Bag” and “Mr. Universe,” along with controversial hit “Brik Pan Brik” sparking debates around Scamming songs (songs about the lifestyle of lottery scammers—an increasingly popular hustle tied to organized crime in Jamaica), all aided the young talent in establishing himself as a forerunner among the new generation.  Marvin Sparks speaks with Skillibeng about his year 2020 rise in lockdown, Popcaan friendship, collaborating with Vybz Kartel, lottery scamming culture and recording a dubplate for the Jamaican Prime Minister. Q&A After The Jump…
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