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Out this Friday
Yesterday saw the sentencing of Vybz Kartel following his conviction for Murder, for those of you who have some how escape the news; he was sentenced to life with no chance of parole until served at least 35 years. As I said on facebook yesterday the sentence does fit the crime, so I won’t be one of those people that claims to be shocked by his sentence, it’s just shame its come to this, dancehall has lost a very talented individual as we will see below.
Here I will try to take you through my top 41 favorite Kartel songs (in no paticular order), expect some surprises, some hits from his earlier years and plenty of slackness.
So Mi A Say
One of many collabs between Vybz Kartel & Don Corleon we will see in this list, it’s tunes like this that highlight why kartel rose to fame so quickly, lyrics & delivery mixed with a great beat…..”Most Girls love Mi So…..”
Last Man Standing
This tune dropped within 24 hrs of his sting clash with Mavado and was like a final nail in the coffin for Mavado in terms of this clash. Kartel did little more than sum up the clash in this tune but some of the comparisons Kartel uses really hit hard!
Taken from his first album Up to Di Time, this cut on the Marmalade riddim was a banger! There’s a saying that a beat is only half a song and this is a great example
Badda Dan Dem
Kartel killed the Casablanca riddim with this boastful track. At the time kartel offered something so different to what dancehall had been offering and anyone who can remember the original Life Of Grime Mix CD (In the days of the physical CD) will remember this track kicked off the whole series!
In days before smartphones, Kartel released this lyrical bomb! Cheekily using the “Hello Motto” tagline Motorola (remember them) had used in an advert around the same. Kartel’s use of melody to emulate phone sounds and the line “Can You Hear Me Now” were brillaint!
White Trash Party Remix
Vybz Goes toe to toe with one of Hip Hop’s finest Eminem on his remix and easily delivers, it’s tunes like this that make me wonder why no one within Hip Hop reach out properly.
Frontin’ Def Jamaica Remix
Part of the Def Jamaica Album, Kartel, teams up with Wayne Marshall and of course Jay Z & Pharrell to produce one of my favorite dancehall remixes. Not Much more to say really except BIG TUNE!!!
Kartel in full Teacha mode, although many blamed Kartel for everything under the sun. This is Vybz talking directly to youths and talking a lot of common sense – that teamed with a classic riddim equals this great track.
Produced by Vertex, this combo with Jah Cure shows Kartel’s other side. At the time this was rumored to be part of a album project that would of see the Worl’ Boss take on his Addi Di Teacher alter ego for an entire album, Kartel’s Social commentary is often overlooked but this highlights how good he was at it
Thank You Jah Jah
If you read the Vybz Kartel book, he explains this track in detail in the first chapter, taken from the Gangster City Riddim, his lyrics sit nicely over Not Nice’s simple chord progression. Even after 3 years this track is still huge!
Move Your Body Remix
Just what this tune needed, from the minute Jabba shouts remix the madness begins! “Ladies ride ride it….”
Brilliant Marketing hear from Kartel, advertising his rum through a big tune. Imagine how much it would cost to get an advert out to the amount of people this tune has reached, plus its a big tune!
Touch A Button Nuh
From the intro drops, you no what time it is! The damage this tune used to do in a dance!
Love this tune, partly because I can do a great british accent just like kartel 😉 Also any tune that features the line “Come In the kitchen lets have a cup of tea” get’s my endorsement.
The Soundtrack to many peoples summer and Kartel perfectly provides that summer vibe, also a big break for swedish producer Adde Instrumentals.
Business itself could be on this list but teaming it with DJ Snake & Lil Jon’s Turn It Down For What was a masterstroke by Willy Chin, similar vibe to Touch a Button Nuh and this tune is doing damage!
Kartel & Wayne Marshall combo often in the early years and this was their first real commercially successful tune (I remember seeing the video on MTV Base)
Picture This (Me & You)
Classic on the blackout riddim, using the popular Nursery Rhyme to provide this great slice of slackness
Kartel & The Doctor on one tune! What a combo, especially as at the time Vybz Kartel was Bounty Killer’s Protogje
Sweet To Di Belly
Kartel working with Don Corleon who produced much of his first album their relationship produced some big tracks and none bigger than this
Go A Jail
In Combo with Alozade on this piece from the Chrome Riddim, hopefully life really is a cushy for him in Jail as his going to be there a long while.
“First Thing we do when we wake up” – Big Weed anthem! Need I Say more
Often Exclaimed in dances by patrons! It’s one of those tunes that has people screaming the lyrics regardless of the content, I wonder if Kartel looks back on that tune as his recent content is very far removed
Taken off the divisive Kingston Story Album produced by Dre Skull, this is a simple track that allowed Kartel to deliver some heart felt lyrics.
Go Go Wine
Another Dre Skull collab and big one at that! The Bass on this tune is immense and his lyrics encourage the ladies to buss that “Go Go” wine
The title says it all, puts many MCs/Rappers too shame
The Lyricist part 2
Part 2 of the above track – Kartel effortlessly delivering lyrical fire!
Addi di teacha on this one teach the ladies the ABC with a difference!
Buss It Up
Kartel alongside Kano on this grime inspired track, can you imagine Kartel on a Grime Set??
Pon Di Floor
Without this combo many people would not of been introduced to Kartel, although he only features briefly the combo with Major Lazer’s beat took dancehall to a new audience.
Took Neyo’s Miss Independent and made it his own to the point where people associate the riddim with him more that Neyo.
Slackness pure and simple but even when talking slackness Kartel makes hits
Send Fi MI Army
There’s a lot of warish tunes I could of picked but this is my favorite – one of them tunes that make selectors gassed!
Straight Jeans & Fitted
Kartel always mixed fashion and dancehall well and this combo with Russian run dances across the world!
This song fuelled the Gaza/Gully rivalry in the UK I remember being in a club in essex and got asked by a rather intoxicated raver if I was Gully or Gaza my answer “Let me tell you about Gaza…”
Get Your Own Lighter
Any song I can use to tell my bredrins not steal my lighter is a winner with me. Plus it features the line “Jesus Christ Fatty gone pon di sound box….Cross mi Fingers hope she don’t drop”
More Freestyle than track at only 1min 18secs but still better than a lot of artists full tracks
This alongside his piece on Set Mi Free riddim and English town seemed to run “Urban” raves for years and considering the slackness this was huge hit!
As Soon as “Hustle di Money” comes in the whole dance lights up! At a time when there was lots of big tunes centered around the ladies this was a man dem anthem! taken off the brilliant Good Life riddim this still gets a huge response now
Kartel has always had a knack for summing up periods in dancehall and this tune sums up perfectly what was happening at the time
From mentions in The Guardian to Clarks themselves Acknowledging that sales went up after this tune, this is truly a modern anthem. Although not being the first to sing about Clarks he brought desert boots back to the masses
This freestyle was featured on the Up To Di Time CD and is bad!
It’s officially the first week of British summer, and I haven’t written a blog post in a while so I thought I’d give you little round up of my thoughts on what’s been happening in dancehall recently.
The Art of Blogs
I thought I’d start with a little moan about the current trend for blogs to post the same content without offering any sort of individual opinion. Many bloggers seem content with copy and pasting stories from each other (or from other media outlets) without offering their own slant on the topic. I’m not saying people have to go down the line of Vice and others that give the impression they are looking down their noses at most things they comment on but I for one enjoy reading a blog that offers me the chance to get an insight into the writers opinion and even give me a sense of their personality. I understand blogs are competing for clicks but still I don’t believe that’s an excuse for some of the shoddy plagiarism I’ve seen lately!
Media Need to Get Their House In Order
Continuing on from my little moan on the lack of creative bloggers, I think the media has a lot to answer for lately. If you only read blogs/websites you would think that dancehall has descended into some sort of strange sexual frenzy, with numerous reports of slack artists, slack songs, demonic behaviour and a lot more along those lines. Now before we start I’m by no means pretending that we haven’t seen a lot more slackness within dancehall but as I’ve said before Dancehall is a genre that encompasses many styles of artist and the media’s obsession with reporting on the negative elements of dancehall, although nothing new holds back the genre. Artists achievements go unnoticed while an unknown artist gets a full page article on his song about his love for eating pussy or for tattooing his eye balls!
Alkaline, Vybz Kartel Mk 2 I Think Not
This brings me on nicely to Alkaline who seems to be dividing dancehall recently, I am a genuine fan of Alkaline but he’s come in for a lot of criticism lately whether it’s being compared to Vybz Kartel or for the content of his music. Now let’s address the Vybz Kartel comparison, yes he uses similar shock tactics (although I will say Kartel’s use of shock tactics always seemed more calculated) and yes he sings about some more freakier topics but that’s where the similarities end for me. I have said on radio a number of times Alkaline embodies a lot of aspects from various “Gaza” artists and has almost refined it, taking the best elements of a number of different artists, Kartel included. As for the criticism regarding the content of his music, I think its simply if your not a fan don’t listen, as I’ve said earlier there is plenty of artists with various styles to choose. I also have a problem with the number of artist jumping on his hype with “diss” songs. Yes it’s always a part of dancehall but I don’t like seeing a young artist being shot at lyrically, when very few of these artists are bringing anything more constructive to the dancehall table and on this subject I will let Alkaline have the final say
Alkaline – Too Real
P.S look out for Alkaline hitting the UK in April for his first UK appearance
Dancehall Music Round Up
Time to take you through a few of my favourite new releases
Busy Signal – Professionally
The Turf President delivers a brilliant visual for his take on P Squares afro beat anthem “Personally”. Not only do we get Busy’s brilliant lyrical delivery but the video is a great advert for all that’s great about dancehall, with the female dancers throwing down some great moves and having some great fun doing it!
Its not only Busy who’s caught the afro beat bug, ANG artist Kalado has jumped on Personally as well with a much more explicit take (Check it out below)
Kalado – Personally
Spice Ft Busta Rhymes – So Mi Like It Remix
Fresh from collaborating with Soca king Bunji Garlin on the remix of Differentology, Busta has brought his talents to Spice’s Hit “So Mi Like It”, Busta delivers everything you expect and a little bit more and I can see this dominating dances over the summer.
Onto big riddims and I have to mention Claims Records new riddim “Pre Order” featuring big cuts from Cham, his wife O and a nice collab from Veterans Wayne Wonder & Beenie Man. I remember seeing Cham post a preview of this on facebook and I looked forward to its release, it follows a simple formula but like the saying goes if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Cham – Don Fi Who
Finally I wanted to mention Rvssian’s new riddim aptly named after him, I’ve always been a fan of his production and although I was initially disappointed when I first heard this riddim it really has grown on me. The riddim features cuts from Masika, Konshens, Vybz Kartel & J Capri and Sean Paul and it’s Sean’s piece that I have really taken to (Never expected to say that).
Sean Paul – Front & Back
End Of An Era
Finally it saddens me to write that after a long run Heatwave have decided to concentrate on their Hot Wuk parties and will finish their weekly event Hot Wuk Wednesday’s at The Social. As someone that has been resident there on and off since it’s Madd Raff Inception I have nothing but good things too say, the vibes have always been electric and it will leave a lot of patrons wondering where they can get their weekly west end dancehall fix!
It’s not often I write blogs down but having waxed lyrical to numerous friends in the “industry” I felt I had to write this. This Blog was originally only going to cover certain dancehall & reggae tunes I felt didn’t get the commercial love I felt they deserved in terms of radio play listing etc. but I feel that subject probably doesn’t cover where we are actually at. There have been numerous blogs/articles since the demise of Choice that talk of the marginalisation of Caribbean music and as I have said before it was something I saw coming for a while but the question I ask is; what justification do radio stations have for this? Admittedly sales of reggae music have dwindled over the years but does sales necessarily reflect popularity, and I would also argue the correlation between lack of sales and lack of mainstream radio play is surely an interesting one. Its almost a catch 22 without support of mainstream media, dancehall & reggae is relying almost solely on a core audience. A core audience that like many others has got used to getting their reggae dancehall fix serviced via various “promo” websites (I could write another blog solely on the piracy issue, so for today lets put that issue to one side, especially as its an issue that blights not only reggae & dancehall but the music industry in general). When I talk core audiences I feel its important to point out this is a group that is hugely multi cultural and isn’t just the stereotypical crowd often pedaled by mainstream media (Channel 4 I am talking to you!). Yes admittedly this crowd is divided into various fractions (we will talk about this later) and this does not always help but the love for dancehall & reggae for me is as strong as ever. You go to any town or city across the UK and you will find somewhere that plays dancehall & reggae and in UK’s major cities the number of dancehall & reggae nights reflects the popularity it has so why is this not reflected via mainstream radio? Aside from specialist shows on 1xtra and the odd bashment mix “urban” DJs provide during their shows the lack of airtime received by reggae and dancehall is frankly ridiculous. You go back 5/10 years go and you would hear Wayne Wonder, Beenie Man, Sean Paul regularly on A/B lists and you would also hear the influence dancehall and reggae had on other songs featured. Now interestingly that influence is still apparent; abet in a slightly different way, with numerous genres using reggae style vocals or producers such as DJ Fresh & Major Lazer using typically soundclash style concepts in their music. We have also seen typically reggae/sound system concepts being used away from the music production, whether it be something like Red Bull bringing the concept of musical warfare to a wider audience which I have no problem with, to a recent “soundclash” I saw advertised between TOWIE’s Lauren Pope and Kiss Breakfast Show host Melvin which quite frankly brought a tear to my eye (especially as it was billed as a soundclash). It often makes me wonder why the “industry” is happy to pillage Reggae and Dancehall in this way but yet refuses to support the music in the mainstream. I know I have waffled a bit without putting forward any tunes that could have been play listed, so let me put a few forward before we continue:
1.Laza Morgan Ft Mavado – One By One
I was driving around listening to this with my Mum in the car, and by the second chorus she was singing along and I personally believe if this play listed the summer of its release this would have been a major hit – It already has a very commercial appeal and with the correct support you could hear a tune like this not only doing well in the charts but also becoming summertime anthem just like many dancehall tunes before it.
2. Denyque – Make Me Believe You
Now maybe this tune will eventually get the love it deserves, but this is a quality track from an artist that has huge mainstream appeal. Over the years dancehall has had it problems with content that was hard to crossover but this tune has so much going for it – catchy lyrics, classic dancehall riddim and a song subject that has mass appeal!
3. Mavado Ft Nicki Minaj – Give It All To Me
To me this tune is a no brainer, I thought it was a hit before Nicki was featured but that only adds to the appeal. I will admit this track dropped rather late in the summer and playing dancehall on daytime radio after Notting Hill Carnival has always been something that very rarely happens but come on!
There are plenty more I could mention but I think I will leave it there for now as there is plenty more to talk about. I am not blind to the fact that the music industry has seen a huge change in recent years. We have seen the influx of EDM on “urban”(I hate this word) music which probably has made it harder to fit dancehall into the play list equation as it doesn’t sit so comfortably next to a Calvin Harris record as it would of sat next to the R’n’B of a few years ago. I also admit that the bad press dancehall has received with regard homophobic lyrics and to a lesser extent slackness has not helped the cause but I still think it does have a place on daytime radio and as stated earlier its popularity has probably increased over the years not diminished. So far I have talked a lot about the dancehall side of things but reggae probably faces an even bigger challenge. Unlike Europe where reggae is played on national radio frequently, the UK has almost abandoned playing reggae on any new mainstream radio outlet. Yes you may hear a few classic Bob Marley tracks on radio but no wonder many peoples view of reggae starts and ends with Bob when radio seems to have abandoned it as a genre. Artists such as Chronixx have been getting critical acclaim in the press and have sold out shows throughout the UK but we are still light years away from hearing “Smile Jamaica” on Radio 1. Now I admit similar to the problems dancehall has with fitting the daytime schedule, reggae has an a even harder job but surely good music has a place on national radio? Well here is the interesting thing I have noticed with stations such as radio 1, Kiss, Capital etc. – good music is the last thing that interests radio programmers who seem to have resorted to the lowest common denominator when it comes to radio – resorting to silly gimmicks, bland presenters and a play list that repeats almost hourly. This is a problem that is not just bound to radio but reflects wider society and I won’t sit here and condemn it wholly as I understand many enjoy their reality TV and there is a place for that in balanced media of any form but reggae & dancehall seems short changed in this balancing act. I slightly swept Channel 4’s My Crazy New Jamaican Life under the carpet earlier and from what I have heard I was one of the lucky ones as I avoided it while being wholed up in hospital (one of the few benefits!) but it’s this stereotypical view of Jamaican life that is equally mirrored in the view many media outlets that has allowed this short change to happen. Yes there is undoubtedly a very slack element to dancehall that over the years has changed the context of how dancehall is seen. Whining was never originally about sexual gratification but more an art form that reflected the seductive sound of dancehall. I remember as a teenager spending ages getting my head around holding a whine properly only to see it now replaced by young people daggering each other (less about hip movement and more about thrusting) and that’s not to say that there is anything wrong with daggering, but more the fact that it’s again allowed dancehall culture to be cheapened by mainstream media. Music does change and many peers in the reggae dancehall world often comment that dancehall especially has lost its edge recently taking more hip hop influences but I’m sure this was a view echoed by elders in the 80’s scared of the digital revolution etc. However this outlook that dancehall is somewhat a lesser sibling of reggae is unfair and in my opinion detrimental. There is more than enough different strands and styles to dancehall and this move to be a Selector that plays one or the other (Dancehall and Reggae) is detrimental to the music. Yes their will always be sound systems that specialise but there is definitely an argument to say that sounds should be able to represent reggae as a whole (encompassing dancehall under that umbrella) like sounds have done for years. We started talking about lack of mainstream radio support and it is somewhat understandable when people within the core industry regularly turn their noses up to certain aspects of the music. I mentioned fractions within the core audience and these fractions do have an effect on the wider commercial appeal. I recently read a opinion piece in the evening standard from the Independent Editor who bemoaned the fact that London was missing quality reggae nights after a bad experience at a Dub night in Brick Lane and you can clearly see how a bad experience can affect the casual fan and with so many strands it must be hard for the casual fan to untangle the good from the bad but this is surely where mainstream radio has a role to play. If mainstream radio found space to play quality dancehall and reggae even if only occasionally and allowed a few more specialist shows you would hope this would help to reflect the finest both Jamaica has to offer in terms of music and the UK has to offer in terms of taste makers. I’ve said on facebook after Choice was “re branded” that there is plenty of quality reggae and dancehall shows out there both on traditional Pirate radio and the more modern podcast medium and it is about time they were given the recognition they deserve whether that be by greater light shone on what they are currently doing or being given the opportunity to showcase their talents on more mainstream stations. Ultimately we do need to make some changes to how we do things in the core if we strive to see reggae and dancehall back where it belongs. Unity is something I’ve longed to see for some time. I’m not saying we all have to be friends and get along but supporting each others endeavours and pushing the scene forward is surely a simple thing to do. Similarly getting taste makers together to discuss where we want our music to go and what artists and songs we wish to promote will surely strengthen the scene and provide a platform for radio pluggers and labels to pressurise mainstream radio into putting dancehall and reggae back on the A/B lists and stop the culture of reggae and dancehall being cheapened further. I for one don’t want to see a TOWIE star and the words soundclash in the same sentence nor do I wish to see dancehall culture cheapened by pointless channel 4 documentaries and on that note I’ll ask you this where is our generations “Babylon” or “Dancehall Queen”? Films that certainly represented dancehall and reggae in a greater degree than anything we have seen since. Remember if you agree or disagree with what I said here I just hope it opens a debate and gets dancehall and reggae back to where it should be and finally I urge you to continue to support reggae and dancehall by buying the music and attending the events and concerts!
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