Top 5 Dancehall Riddims of 2011
by Jodee Brown
(Jamaica & USA)
Coming into 2011, many Dancehall observers were keen on witnessing if established producers such as Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor, Don Corleon and Russian amongst others would build another superstar-laden Riddim that would satisfy the masses. However, this year saw younger producers take centre stage with Riddims that resonate with fans going into the New Year and beyond.
5. Gaza World Riddim: One of those young production groups who made a strong impact in 2011 was TJ Records who unveiled the Gaza World Riddim this past spring. With an infiltrating bass and strong instrumental background, the Gaza World Riddim shelled out a series of its share of hit singles that took over the Dancehall scene for the majority of 2011. The most notable single on the Riddim was Vybz Kartel’s hit song, Real Badman. The song came as a surprise to some given that Kartel spent all of 2010 abolishing gun lyrics in an effort to gauge more radio play. However, Real Badman gave Kartel’s fans a flashback of the hardcore, “badman” image that help Kartel become the lyrical mean machine that he hails as today.
Additionally, the Riddim produced the internationally-acclaimed single, Bartender by Dancehall/Reggae star, G Whizz. The song was a shift from the norm for G Whizz who’s known for his conscious lyrics; instead introducing fans to a more fun, party-friendly side of the Life singer that fans rarely see. Not only was the song in heavy rotation locally, but overseas as well; culminating in G Whizz copping a nomination for Song of the Year in Africa.
Other reputable efforts on the Gaza World Riddim included Popcaan’s single, Cah Believe and Chan Dizzy’s Dat Mi Know.
4. Summer Fling Riddim: This past summer saw a slew of hit Riddims, one of which was the Chimney Records produced, Summer Fling Riddim. Establishing a party vibe with its punchy instrumental, the Summer Fling Riddim produced its share of hits for clubs and sessions across Jamaica and overseas. One of said club hits includes the hit collaboration, I’mma Need Security by Munga, Chi Ching Ching and Supa Hype. The single made an intriguing impression on the Dancehall scene; earning heavy rotation while enabling fans to embrace a different concept that proved fitting for such a party-themed Riddim.
Also the “Gully Gaad,” Mavado established his presence on the Riddim with the single, Final Destination that added to the Alliance-affiliated singjay’s international aura.; earning a spot on New York radio station, HOT 97’s rotation list while also making the top 30 on the U.S Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B charts. A mixture of youth and experience also took hold of the Riddim as up-and-comer, Versatile and established Dancehall icon, Beenie Man joined forces on the single, I Love The Girls which also was highly-acclaimed within local and international circles.
3. Contra Riddim: ZIP jock turned producer, ZJ Chrome struck several chords in 2011 with the June release of the Contra Riddim. Known for heavy, smooth-flowing instrumentals, Chrome didn’t disappoint on the Contra Riddim and artistes who graced the Riddim didn’t either. Mavado once again dominated the Dancehall scene with the release of his single, Do Road. Regarded as a “hustling” anthem, Do Road also graced top-ten Dancehall charts locally and in North America while ensuring that his status as one of Dancehall’s top deejays remained unquestioned.
Former rival, Vybz Kartel also unveiled a reputable effort with the single, Sex and the City which was well-received by his legions of fans. Other strong efforts on the Contra Riddim included Friends by Shocking Vibes singjay, Bugle as well as Tifa’s spicy single, Matie Wine and Assassin’s Tun Up.
2. Summer Time Riddim: Many questioned if the loss of long-time Portmore Empire producer, Ainsley “Notnice”
Morris in June would severely hurt the group’s ability to produce consistently strong Riddims, given his vital contribution to the Gaza camp’s rise in 2008 and 2009. However, the Summer Time Riddim quieted those qualms as the Adidjaheim Records produced Riddim unleashed arguably the two biggest hit singles in Dancehall this year.
Vybz Kartel’s Summer Time not only became the signature single for this Riddim, as well as for the summer season, but may have been one of the most popular Dancehall singles of its generation. The song topped Dancehall charts locally and across various continents, became a highly-requested song at several parties and clubs across the island while proving that “Di Teacha” could still school his competitors when it came to lyrical dexterity. Like Ding Dong’s #1 hit, Holiday two years prior, Summer Time was an addictive musical masterpiece that fans couldn’t help but sing at random. However, Kartel’s own protégé seemingly created an effort which was as worthy as or more so than the Summer Time Riddim’s title track.
Popcaan’s Ravin’ established itself as a strong rival to Kartel’s song; earning #1 on several Dancehall charts across the world also while propelling him to “breakthrough” status as the song earned him mass respect amongst his Dancehall compatriots and fans that began to see his potential. Ideal for a Riddim with beautifully orchestrated instrumentals, Popcaan’s Ravin’ started a run of form that has some industry observers wondering if this “Hot Skull” is ready to assume the role as the “next Vybz Kartel.”
Making his song even more popular was a counteraction to Ravin’ by the self-professed, “Queen of Dancehall,” Tiana, who unveiled the sexually charged song, Pum Pum Phat. Not only did it elevate the ranking of Popcaan’s original song, it also put Tiana on the Dancehall map as fans took strong notice of her lyrical ingenuity mixed with sex appeal sure to make her a fan favourite while already stirring talk of Female Deejay of the Year.
1.Overproof Riddim: However, no Riddim in 2011 possessed a presence nor hooked an entire Dancehall audience more strongly that the August release of the Overproof Riddim. Co-produced by up-and-coming hitmaker, Justin “Justus” Arison and former Vybz Kartel producer, Patrick “Roach” Samuels, the Overproof Riddim not only exceeded expectations, it may surpass records that Dancehall fans never thought a single Riddim could accomplish. With over 30 songs to its credit, the Overproof Riddim provided a hypnotic instrumental flow with a powerful bass never before heard within Dancehall music. Never before has a Riddim involved so many top Dancehall acts nor produced a plethora of hit songs that earned so much international airplay and #1 hit songs within the same calendar year. Khago’s Tun Up Mi Ting, Mavado’s Settle Down and Beenie Man’s Let’s Go immediately dominated the charts and radio stations worldwide; encouraging players within their genre to experiment with such a tasteful production.
However, what may have helped Overproof’s status more than anything was the appearance of pop superstar, Daniel Bedingfield who released the single, Sometimes You Just Know. Unheard of for a non-Jamaican artiste to grace a Dancehall Riddim, Bedingfield’s effort was well-received worldwide; regarded as one of his greatest singles yet while proving that the Overproof Riddim had developed a strong Crossover reputation.
Tiana’s Bruck Out and Wine, Tifa’s Dash Out and Bounty Killer’s Galactic Gallis are just few of the myriad of hits that the Overproof Riddim produced. What makes this Riddim number one isn’t just its impact on 2011, but the fact that it’s unknown whether or not more artistes will jump on this mass production in 2012. Overproof didn’t just change the face of Dancehall music, it gave the genre a well needed makeover.