Thanks to Justin Bieber’s Sorry and Drake’s Once Dance, Jamaican-born genre dancehall is making its way back into the mainstream with producers and vocalists alike combining its rhythmic foundations with innovative electronic beats. Here are a collection of seven new artists from all around the world that are drawing upon the dancehall genre for seven very different outcomes.
Palmistry is a vocalist and producer from London who is signed to Brooklyn label Mixpak. He’s due to release his debut album PAGAN on 17th June and so far he’s released two songs from that record. Lifted is the latest and it’s a minimal, delectable tune peppered with delicate, slippery vocals. It’s like he’s taken a dancehall tune and pulled away the layers until he was left with almost nothing. It’s a bare-boned affair but so effective.
Judging by the dark cover of Gaika‘s latest mixtape SECURITY you probably wouldn’t guess that he’d be drawing from dancehall vibes straight outta the Caribbean. The London MC has flipped the dancehall genre, using its sunny melodies but surrounding them with dark, demonic beats. PMVD is a great example of that. It’s weighted by a thick bassline but then it’s also elated by an infectious rhythm. He’s also signed to Mixpak, the Brooklyn label that released Popcaan’s excellent 2015 record Where We Come From.
NYNE is a Melbourne artist who until now has been involved in dark R&B projects. Bad Trip is also a dark song lyrically but it’s also peppered with sunny, dancehall vibes courtesy of fellow Aussie producer CHIEFS. It’s almost like a dark, woozy rendition of Justin Bieber’s Sorry with sleek verses leading into a dancehall break that introduces the song’s rhythm. A really strong single that’s sure to hang around your head for days.
Nadia Rose is one of many very talented Female Grime MCs hailing from the UK right now but her latest drop really puts her at the top of the pack. The 22 year-old brings an unwavering fierceness to her latest drop Mufasa over a beat that finds a happy place between jungle and dancehall. It’s got a distinct grime feel to it but the bounce comes courtesy of a subtle dancehall influence. She’s apparently been writing bars since she was 13 and all the practice shows. She’s a charismatic and effortless rapper.
New Patan (Feat. Sillati)
It’s hard to capture people’s attention with a dancehall instrumental because the riddims are often distinguished by the vocals laid over them but Leeds producer Mina has done a phenomenal job on New Patan. The young producer pulls influences from West Africa, the Caribbean and London to make a sound that is part tropical and part British underground. New Patan is sunny and infectious without being over the top. Check out Mina’s full Soundcloud – it’s full of excellent dancehall-inspired beats.
Hold Up (Chiamu Remix)
From Baby Boy to XO, Beyoncé has always pulled inspiration from Caribbean-flavoured beats and Hold Up continued that trend on Lemonade. The song’s arrangement is minimal but Italian producer has bolstered it up with dancehall production to make it club-ready. It doesn’t take anything away from the addictive vocal melody, instead tinkering with the instrumental for a different vibe. Chiamu also remixed Palmistry’s Lifted, also featured on this list.
London trio Sälen made us swoom with their debut track IILWMBF which was a mostly lo-fi affair but for offering number two they have ramped up the energy a bit. Diseasy keeps the sweet vocals but adds to them with island-inspired beats for an anthem all about bad decisions. The beat, which doesn’t kick in until well after a minute, pulls from all different directions using dancehall percussion, trop-house synths and pop sensibilities.