“QUESTIONING DANCEHALL”

Dancehall music originated in the 1970s which span out of other popular genres such as Ska and Reggae. In comparing the beats of Dancehall, Ska and Reggae, one would conclude that the tempo became the first instrument of the birth of dancehall followed by the content or stories told by the genres of music. 

The name “Dancehall” in itself was self-created, from having dances in the streets, lanes or halls which accounted for the conjunction “Dancehall”.

Ska pre-dated Jamaica’s independence in 1962 but was noticeable upon receiving independence perpetuated by the celebration which infused the heart and soul of the people. Characteristics of Ska are noticeable; Rum “Rude to your parents”, Sound Systems “Clemence Coxson and Arthur Juke Reid” and food such as curried goat. Ska sessions were typically late night events which gave the patrons enough time to get home form their days work, prepare the dinner and household choirs and get ready to hit the sessions clothed in memorable fashion. 

The music served as a soothing remedy for decades of is hardship to the Jamaican People.

In today’s Jamaica, dancehall is the popular music and for most part receives condemnation from societal people and government. 

If you are a dancehall artist in Jamaica your chances of being successful without being arrested is a very slim chance, in fact, many would agree that even though Jamaicans are victims of racism, does still impose racism, classism and sexism on its own people which has encourage artists such as Movado and new comer Xyclone to take their craft overseas where it is accepted and appreciated.

One of the problem with Dancehall Music is that it gets little or no support from Government as it counterparts Rap, R&B and Soca does from United Stated of America and Trinidad respectively.

Dancehall, being the grandchild of Ska has some similar traits and grew some additional characteristics such as its gun, sex and drug lyrics. 

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In attempting to understand in order to accept this sub-culture, it is best to first appreciate that there is a time and place for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1–8) and therefore it is justifiable to allow dancehall its space to cultivate for its consumers. 

Jamaica suffers from an “after syndrome” disease as is evidential to the legalization of Marijuana aka Weed which has received certification in several parts of the world, except where it is organically grown-Jamaica.

Successful Governments has over the years blamed Dancehall and Weed for the state of Jamaica. Claiming that dancehall promulgate crime and violence and the combination of dancehall and weed will engage an unhealthy society, only to now realized that by removing social activities from society and restricting it so much has send idle hands to raid the Ackee Tree at Kings House and has turned unto Children, something dancehall and weed does not teach. 

Jamaica must create that space as it has similarly for the Chinese to invest and perhaps, if the Chinese decides to invest much into dancehall locally, it will change the minds of Government.

In 1998 a little black boy, called Vibes Kartel entered the Dancehall Industry through writing music for Bounty Killer such as “Gal Clown” and other artists. 

At this point in Jamaican history, dancehall was on the verge of a collapse, not much was happening and the story lines were practically the same and old school veterans such as Bounty Killer and Beenie Man were the only available diet in Dancehall Culture with a cliché of the same old clashes yearly at Sting, the world biggest reggae one night show. 

In 1998 Mixed Tapes with riddims such as Faith Riddim, Girls Galore Riddim, Paid in Full Riddim, Fig Leaf Riddim, Mad Lion Riddim and Warlord Riddim were like chicken foot soup on Saturday and fans were migrating their listenership to R&B which at the time featured Ja Rule and Ashanti, Wyclef Jean, K-Ci and Jojo and Usher just to name a few. 

The introduction of Vibes Kartel to Dancehall was similar to the introduction of the record “My Boy Lollypop” by Millie Small and produced by Chris Blackwell on Island Records in 1964; Vibes Kartel infiltrated the Jamaican Dancehall Culture. 

He was the Hero of the Dancehall Culture, in fact, his musical skills drew many attention both locally and overseas. His creativity saw the playful usage of Puns, metaphor, personification, similes, and onomatopoeia, lining his composition of lyrics.

Slangs such as “timeless” replaced the usage of “Hi” and “hello” and for most part, his lyrics is still “timeless”. Although many tried to refuse his lyrics, they were too modern and current, like fitness and health is to 2016. Vibes Kartel “Tek Bu##Y Gal”, “Picture you and me”, “Start Well”, “Di way we Roll” and many others sweet fans to the belly and since his incarceration has left many bellies empty, including Isiah Leng, Promoter of Sting which would pay big money this year to see another clash with a little less abuse of Ninja Man.

Dancehall in 2016 is currently featuring artists/hype man such as Tanto Blacks, Alkaline, Popcaan, Konshens, Demarco, I-Octane, Romaine Virgo, Christopher Martin, Movado and Busy Signal while 2016 is also expected to have an injection of Maestro Don, Krushal, Kezzi, Chan Dizzy, Patexx and Deep Jahi who have been timely making their impacts through deliveries at stage shows, interviews and keeping relevant on social media.

Marketing plays a significant role in the success of dancehall, as it is not financially supported by Government and scarcely support by the private sector, therefore for artists to hit the mark, and get set for the next buss, staying relevant, current and yes. DIFFERENT is perhaps the only way to the success. Marketing tools such as Soundcloud, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Itune, Amazon Music, newspapers and some free shows are all ways in which an artist can stay relevant. 

One point in all to remember is that Marketing is not about being normal, or being accepted by everyone; it is being DIFFERENT, analytical with good judgement in order to experiment and exploit the niche market.

In conclusion, Dancehall certainly need energy and perhaps freeing up the Little Black Boy from Gaza will do just that or as promised my Alkaline 2016 is his year. 

Will 2016 be the year of the resurrection of dancehall? Only time will tell.

Krisho Y.dae Holmes

 

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