Lately dancehall has been creeping its way into the airwaves and car stereos and those who are unfamiliar are going absolutely nuts over it! What is that sound? Is it Caribbean or techno? Let’s call it Tropical House. Except it already has a name and it’s affectionately known as dancehall.
Work by Rihanna ft. Drake
Rihanna’s latest single “Work” has stirred up quite a bit of controversy with her use of her native Bajan dialect and the song’s resonating dancehall beat. Although Rihanna is classified as a pop artist, her culture is Caribbean and it is therefore her right to release a single that speaks to who she is while still maintaining her audience. However, Rihanna is not the only artist as of late to release a single with heavy reggae influence. Artists such as Justin Bieber and Pia Mia have also used reggae over tones in their hottest singles.
Sorry by Justin Beiber
Justin Bieber’s single “Sorry” has been blazing full force since its release. What’s even hotter than the song perhaps is the video, which features a group of women showing off their ability to imitate dancehall moves. Please note, I don’t use the term offensively. They’re very talented young ladies. But of course, if you want a real show you have to be on the dancehall scene. Yet, it was a brilliantly white-washed display of the greatness that is dancehall culture.
Let’s Do It Again by Pia Mia
Rising artist Pia Mia’s breakout single “Let’s Do It Again” was a remake of J Boog’s summer smash hit from 2010 of the same title. Pia Mia admits that she was inspired by J Boog and loved his music so much that she wanted to remake his song. However, this bit of information is not well known by most of her audience. In fact, if I had not heard the original some years ago I probably would never have imagined that it had been redone. Kudos to Pia Mia for paying homage to a great artist, but thumbs down to mainstream media for not acknowledging it.
4. Broadway by R. City
Saint Thomas natives Timothy and Theron Thomas, better known as R. City recently released their album “What Dreams Are Made Of” which of course displays their unique blend of dancehall, hip-hop and pop music. Their single “Broadway,” which was featured on the premiere of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, may have more of a hip-hop vibe but in true R.City fashion it maintains their Caribbean roots because it samples the great Barrington Levy’s hit single “Broader Than Broadway.” This duo has always kept their culture in their music, whether it’s a dancehall beat or simply using their Rock City dialect. We love and appreciate R. City for staying true to their culture while continuing to grow as artists.
While dancehall music has always had a place in our hearts here at COCO, we are simply ecstatic that it is making its home in the hearts of the rest of the world as well. However, I believe that it is important for artists and reggae enthusiasts alike to maintain the pure form of dancehall as we know it. There’s no such thing as Tropical House or slightly Caribbean. It is or it isn’t. And when it is, it should be known without a doubt that this is what dancehall music and culture is. Dancehall music is definitely alive and there’s no way to hide it or try to recreate it any longer. Dancehall to di world!