Finally it looks like dancehall music is getting it's long deserved international recognition. After years of influencing all different types of modern dance music - think about dubmixing, the M.C., dubplates, and sound systems, all are elements that are common to styles like speed garage, hip-hop, drum & bass and techno - dancehall is getting into the spotlights itself. In England the club deejays are now discovering dancehall and they start mixing it in their sets of music that they use to play in their clubs.
Their attention was attracted by Beenie Man's monster smash Who Am I, that managed to get into the UK Top 10. Recently Beenie sneaked into the UK Top 100 again with Foundation whilst other tracks, like Mr. Vegas' highly infectious Heads High on Danny Brownie's "Filthy" riddim and - yes, it's him once again - Beenie Man's Year 4 on Steely & Clevie's kicking "Bagpipe" riddim, are waiting to climb the national charts as well. But it's not these two tracks alone that are full of potential to break through. The past half year a lot of records have been released that are able to break into the popcharts. To mention a few: Shaggy's Sexy Body Gal using the riff of Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger", Buccaneer's Fade Away based on Enya's "Orinoco Flow", Bodyguard Monster Shack Crew's remake of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al", Hardcore Lover T.O.K.'s combination with Lady Saw using the melody of Stevie Wonder's "Part-time Lover" and Scare Dem's Girls Everywhere containing an interpolation of George Michael's "Faith" ! All these songs have something recognizable for the main audience, whilst they remain hardcore to the dancehall massive. Besides this nowadays dancehall artists like Beenie Man, Monster Shack Crew, Scare Dem Crew, Mr. Vegas, Bounty Killer, Merciless and lots more have all their own image and their music is fast and kicking...and that is what the kids want.
Now dancehall is getting main attention in England and I expect it will get more attention in other European countries as well, as England has always been the musical trendsetter for the rest of Europe. In the U.S.A. the dancehall, hip-hop and R 'N' B markets are getting closer and closer. Of course, dancehall has been promoted within the hip-hop scene for a long time by people like Bobby Konders, Funkmaster Flex and the New York radio station Hot 97 FM and dancehall and hip-hop artists have been doing combinations for years.
On the other side hip-hop is influencing dancehall a lot. Take for instance Shocking Vibes' "Busta Rhymes" riddim - rebuilding Busta's Put Your Hands" - and the numerous versions of the "Nightrider" riddim on Jamaican labels like Hi-Power, Star Trail, Pure & Clean and Ice-95. Jamaican top sound systems like Stone Love, Bodyguard and Renaissance are playing huge amounts of R 'N' B and hip-hop tunes in their sets and the Jamaican producers are releasing countless dancehall versions of big R 'N' B and hip-hop hits.
To satisfy demand shiploads of dancehall tracks are remixed on the latest hip-hop or R 'N' B riddims and hip-hop or R 'N' B tracks are remixed on the hottest dancehall riddims too. So, it's crossbreed all over !! With these two tendencies going on those who thought that Jamaican music died with Bob Marley soon will know that Jamaican music still is alive and kicking !
Writer: Danny "Pepperseed" Bouten, September 1998. ~ Graphics : Mr. T.
You can contact Danny "Pepperseed" Bouten through e-mail: danny@ovadoze.myweb.nl

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