Popcaan, “The City Yeah” Pt Twice (Official Video)

8 Jun

It’s been a year since “Wagwaan Popcaan” transcended into the international platform with “Clarks” and “Dream” and while many were still stuck pondering the playfulness of Vybz’s catchphrase, Popcaan was busy at work improving his lyricism and flow.

Several tracks emerged since the new year with the more matured sound of an artiste venturing out from under his mentor’s wings. Popcaan released “She Gone” off the Yung Riddim (Notnice) about a lover who’ll never get a man like him- “remember every gyal waan Popcaan”- and then coincided the single with “Tun Up the Scheme” and “No Sponsor“, both from Notnice.

Kartel’s entourage has slowly diluted since the peak of its franchise. With Kim, Lisa Hyper, Ryno, Former Manager Cory Todd, Merital Family and most recently producer Notnice and artiste Jah Vinci all leaving the camp to pursue their own projects (often with bitterness and controversy fueled by Kartel). Some are still lurking in the shadow of Jamaica’s most talked about deejay, Kartel, while others, freshly relieved from the troop, are imagining up new ventures. And the struggle to stay afloat will be difficult, not because they don’t have the potential, but because Kartel is an eclipse of a personality with an endless supply of production capabilities.

The young Popcaan, who recently shot down rumors that he too was leaving the Gaza, is quickly developing an artiste rapport with his fans that rivals those of his mentor’s generation. Still Jamaican fan’s grapple with the complexities of dancehall tribalism. Comments from “The City Yeah” youtubes highlight these conflicts within Popcaan’s fan base:

“Popcaan is a talented youth but it all will seem futile when associating with people who favor the devil’s work!!!!!!!! Now all is said and done..Popcaan your talented my youth……” – Black 56104

“Only reason why me listen to gaza cause of popcaan always droppin mad tunes nah lie.. JOP MI SEH Str8 always” -Gucci Thing

Despite the hesitance from the “other” side, Popcaan keeps getting more intriguing. And why not? An evolution on the scene would be welcomed with open arms. You can only listen to the same five deejays so many times before you crave something newer, something less embattled. After all, Popcaan says, “Mad still in Adi city yeah, but me haffi say, I’m kicking it the happy way.”

Konshens, “Buss a Shot” Official Video

8 Jun

Always a great artiste with a consistent stride, Konshens does a well-produced heartfelt track for those dancehall/reggae artistes lost in the last year to sickness, tragedy and as Konshens points out in the video, greed. Using his crisp voice (don’t come looking for autotune here) Konshens encapsulates the depth of Jamaica’s musical losses this year. Brap Brap. See also the clean version, Buss a Blank.

Laden’s R&B Hustle

25 May

For a while now Di Genius has been strengthening his roots in the R&B genre, utilizing his innate attraction to elongated synths and languid melodies to interlock them with the “oh oh oh” choruses of singjays like Mavado and Nicky B. Two new releases from the young producer prove his adoration for the genre with continued musical collaborations from close friend Laden. The two singles, “Come Mek Me Touch You” and “She’s Getting Drunk (Moet)” offer Laden in the best light of his talents, the realm of the singjay.

It’s no mystery that Laden as a singjay has become a darling of sorts for the crossover of dancehall/R&B and he may continue to stay up top in this genre (see the most recent Mavado exploration). Laden, who has lingered on the periphery for a great while, despite the strength of singles like “Really Like You” and “My Love”, is expounding on Di Genius’ R&B explorations with these tracks and solidifying his footing as a Jamaican R&B singjay to be dealt with.

Laden, “Come Mek Me Touch You”
Laden – Come Mek Me Touch You

Laden, “She’s Getting Drunk (Moet)”
Laden – She’s Getting Drunk [Moet]

Column: Anger Management – Busy Signal, “Pon Dem”

12 May

The lyrical ammunition that feeds dancehall’s infinite archive of deejay conflict is fascinating for the dramatic posturing but also important because an angry deejay can be a lyrical murder if they have the capabilities. In some ways it’s what proves a deejay has reached status in the patriarchy (because dancehall is a patriarchy) or is trying to inoculate themselves into the circle. And if you’re young and poor in Jamaica, there is plenty to be angry about.

Since the beginning of the year, we haven’t been feeling the heat from many of dancehall’s “top” deejays, and call me nuts but a bout of anger is sometimes the best medicine for a) purging of societal corruption b) challenging the unchallenged c) invigorating a watered down career. The Anger Management column celebrates every thing about the angry deejay that we love to hate and hate to love. Check it out after the jump.
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Mp3: Blaze Fia Riddim

9 May

Just stumbled upon this new Blaze Fia Riddim from Dutty Rock Music. It’s been reported to be the newest producing venture from Sean Paul’s camp… actually straight from the musical keyboard that is Sean Paul’s transcendent mind. It’s chock-full of Jamaica’s finest, including a track from Sean Paul called, “Gal a Bawl for More” plus great tracks from Future Fambo, Elephant Man, Assassin, Busy Signal, Wayne Marshall… and plenty of other great artistes. Peep it below.

Assassin, “We Love The Girl Dem”

Elephant Man, “Turn Mi On”

Sean Paul, “Gal A Bawl for More”

MP3: Adele & Jamie XX vs. Cecile, Mr. Lexx, Timberlee, “Rolling in the Heat” (Heatwave Refix)

9 May

So… *half smiles, stretches fingers*… back to hybrid sounds, bastardized tracks, dancehall soundsystems and the depths of Adele’s despair. The Heatwave crew has been stirring their summer coals over there in farin ‘ol merry England, dropping a refix on the remix of the soul lounge sound of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”. Heatwave calls it “Rolling in the Heat”, a double edged word play on the HEATwave and Summer HEAT, maybe?? I’m assuming. But it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think “Rolling in the Heat” is the club crew’s sly little way of saying they’re bringing on the Heat with their heavy bass yard version.

Talk about evolution of a song, the track has had multiple makeovers, beginning originally, of course, with Adele before taking a little dubstep detour with a remix from The XX producer, Jamie XX, and then being remolded dancehall-version style by The Heatwave. Topping off the track with dub overs from Cecile, Mr. Lexx, Timberlee and squeezing in a tidbit of Dixie Cups, “Iko. Iko”, Heatwave make themselves a hefty club track with a little fire under its ass (maybe that’s why it’s called “Rolling in the Heat”)

Get it here.

Adele & Jamie XX vs. Cecile, Mr. Lexx & Timberlee, “Rolling in the Heat”:

Tarrus Riley, “Shaka Zulu Pickney”

10 Feb

Another beautifully imagined video from Director Storm Saulter has emerged for Tarrus Riley’s roots track, “Shaka Zulu Pickney.” Evoking Garvey, Malcolm X, Nanny, Sam Sharpe and other Black American and Jamaican heroes in his track, Tarrus Riley continues to stay on the path of good virtue by keeping the content conscious.

I had the opportunity to do a video interview with Riley once a few years back (a video that lingers somewhere in the FADER/Suite 903 archives never to emerge). At the time, Riley, a man of medium build who sports small square glasses, wore a green army jacket pocked with picture pendants of Garvey, Marley and other Jamaican national heroes. It’s refreshing to see he is a man who sticks as squarely to his values as he does to his choice in optical styles.

In related news, check the trailer for Storm Saulter’s feature film, “Better Mus’ Come” with English subtitles below. Look for the film to be released in New York in late March with a week’s full of festivities at Gallery 151 in SOHO.

Happy Birthday Bab Morley!!

6 Feb

Photo from Morrison Hotel Gallery

Check the Birthday Bob mix Safari Sound whipped up:

The Clash/The Hype

18 Jan

The exact point of incision that catalyzed the feud between Aidonia and Vybz Kartel escapes me but as of last month, the two deejays have been indirectly and directly exchanging disses through the media. Aidonia released his track “Left Dem White” as a diss to Kartel, giving a healthy serving of his trademark lyrical elasticity with a barrage of venomous allegories. Kartel responded by twitter saying he wouldn’t bother even giving into the hype (in effect giving into the hype.) Thus was born Kartel’s Dancehall Hero pt. 2,” a preview for which was released earlier Monday and a follow up to “Dancehall Hero” which pissed just about every artiste off in the industry.

Aidonia ft. Navino, “Left Dem White” Download.

I don’t normally wallow in these sorts of matters. Clashes appear often as contrived petty cat fights veiled by the notion that two deejays are flexing their lyrical muscles. Not to disregard their importance, a good “clash” has long been the beacon of dancehall worthiness for an artiste. Nowadays, it seems more like a publicity stunt, presented as a shiny new platform to deliver hits for artistes. But hype is hype, and many artistes will take the free publicity, especially Kartel who uses unusual antics to keep the attention of the public. In this case, he has already used the clash with Aidonia to jumpstart his next hit, “Dancehall Hero Pt. 2” which, despite only having previewed a rough sound bite at a recent session, is getting an unwarranted amount of attention from fans.

To make matters worse, promotional sites such as Hypetv further mock the original dancehall clash with videos like this, claiming that they are bringing back “authenticity to save the music” and “authentic dancehall fans” through “lyrical death matches.” Key words being “authentic” here. Oh, but don’t forget to scroll down and pay up your 25 USD to enter the authentic contest.

A Year in Dancehall: 2010

29 Dec

Vybz Kartel drives full force ahead

Last year Kiss my Teeth/Imagelala did a much more straightforward run down of the top ten riddims and singles of 2009, but this 2010 round-up goes a little deeper into the shifty geology that makes up this year’s successes and failures in dancehall. In 2010 we saw the sometimes successful, sometimes brash shuffle dancehall took into new sounds, the systematic revoking of visas, catastrophic failures in album sales, the incredible personal branding successes and some serious bleaching. Read it all after the jump.

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