In the music history, there has never been another musical genre or subculture so exclusively focused on rankings, ratings and the constantly updated scoring of who is the king, queen or even the don of all capos than Dancehall.
This musical genre from Jamaica mixes smooth reggae with fast rhythms, and manages to merge dance with the Rastafarian culture.
Who started Dancehall music?
The history of dancehall begins in the late 1970s in Jamaica, when popular music moved away from its reggae roots towards a more modern, daring and different culture. This new trend was called dancehall and marked the emergence of a new musical phenomenon that would eventually go global.
After Bob Marley’s death in 1981, the music began to change. The lyrics began to take on a new sense of identity. Themes about sexuality, violence and dance took center stage. DJs like Yellowman and Shabba Ranks boasted of their looks and prowess, a form of individual advancement for the humble Jamaican classes.
Technological innovations around the art of DJing also meant that faster digital beats could be produced and more DJs could jump on the scene. With the creation of the Sleng Teng beat in 1985, it was possible to mix a digital beat with different vocals. The dancehall style of ‘talk-over’ became easy to reproduce and easy to do.
Notable in the history of dancehall was the rise of DJ Yellowman in the early 1980s, which marked that transition from mainstream reggae to dancehall music that took place in Jamaican nightclubs.
In the 1980s and 1990s, computer-generated beats mechanized and accelerated dancehall. Notable dancehall DJs like Shabba Ranks, Sugar Minott, Barrington Levy, Frankie Paul or DJ Yellowman are among the most important dancehall tracks of all time.
Why is it called dancehall?
This musical style owes its name precisely to the dance halls of Jamaica, where you could both listen to this type of music and dance to it.
How has dancehall influenced the new contemporary pop?
The real turning point came in 2003 with Sean Paul’s Get Busy, the first dancehall single to reach #1 in the US. Beenie Mann, Popcaan or Vybz Cartel also had some international impact, while Kevin Lyttle, from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, gave it a pan-Caribbean dimension thanks to his hit ‘Turn Me On’.
From there to Barbados with Rihanna and to North America with Drake and Diplo’s Major Lazer. A song that marks its global reach today is Work by Rihanna and Drake. Today, dancehall is a fashionable phenomenon in countries all around the world.
Top 20 Dancehall tracks of all time
Here is a list of some of exponents that created the origin of the rhythm and style of Dancehall music. Each artist takes us to their country of origin and at the same time connects us with different cultures. Undoubtedly it is a style that transmits strength in their lyrics, dances and songs.