Over the past few years, Dancehall music in Jamaica experienced a bit of a downward slop when it came to creating massive hits. But in 2014, despite not making an outstanding international impact like they once could, the singles that were released proved that the core of Dancehall was still present and that it wasn’t planning to go anywhere!
The all-stars of the year were no doubt Vybz Kartel (who remarkably is maintaining his grip on the genre’s forefront despite being behind bars for multiple years), controversial newcomer Alkaline and Popcaan. The former has been taking notes from Addi Di Teacha with his explicit-laced lyrics, while the latter proved why he’s one to watch thanks to his debut album — last summer’s Where We Come From.
When putting all of this in consideration, though, who really did control the Dancehall scene in 2014? Well, keep on reading to find out in our top 15 picks for the best singles of the year!
15. Popcaan — “Unruly Party” (June 2014)
14. Mavado — “Nah Use Dem” (September 2014)
13. Vybz Kartel — “Nuh Trust People” (September 2014)
12. Vybz Kartel — “Happy Pum Pum” (April 2014)
11.Alkaline — “A Bagga Tings” (September 2014)
10. Vybz Kartel — “Cock It Up [Pretty Position]” (January 2014)
9. Vybz Kartel — “Credit Alone Done” (August 2014)
8. Demarco — “Good Book” (March 2014)
7. Vybz Kartel — “Without Money” (June 2014)
6.Popcaan — “Fall In Love” (April 2014)
Now, let’s get into the Dancehall Top 5!
5. Alkaline — “Bruk Out” (October 2013)
Yes, this song was released in late 2013, but Alkaline‘s “Bruk Out” single (arguably his breakthrough hit — no pun intended) saw its reign during the top of the following year and beyond. A Jamaican artist can never go wrong with a dancing tune for the ladies to wine to, and this song has the perfect mix: it includes raunchy lyrics, an interesting flow and a pounding bassline that mimics a female’s shaking bumper.
4. Spice — “So Mi Like It” (October 2013)
This next track is on the same riddim as “Bruk Out,” but it carried its own ever since its debut. What made Spice‘s “So Mi Like It” such a hit was the visual — a smart move on her team’s part! It was released in January 2014 on the artist’s VEVO channel, which catapulted her into the mainstream arena with its — get this — over 14 million views! Which Dancehall artist can attest to those numbers nowadays? What made it even better is Spice’s killer representation for females everywhere, Jamaican or otherwise.
3. Gully Bop — “Pussy Specialist” (November 2014)
This next artist was virtually a nobody in 2014 until one wise person decided to upload a video of him deejaying in his hometown gully. Once that clip made its way onto the Internet, Gully Bop became a star almost overnight! But don’t think this is a gimmick. People are so captivated by the deejay because he has actual talent. His flow has a traditional, old-school vibe that has always been praised in the Dancehall scene. Not to mention he actually has a personality! Once he puts out more versatile songs, I’m sure Gully Bop will continue to succeed in this new year.
2. Vybz Kartel — “Miami Vice Episode” (May 2014)
Vybz Kartel may be indefinitely serving time in prison, but he still continues to treat his fans with solid music time and time again. One of the tunes that made an impact in 2014 was “Miami Vice Episode.” Sure, the artist can make a shocking bad man anthem, but this single highlights his musical flexibility. It is a breezy, summer-worthy love song that is completely enticing. Songs like “Miami Vice Episode” proves just why Kartel is a legend-in-the-making for our Dancehall generation.
1. Popcaan — “Everything Nice” (March 2014)
Surprisingly, my top pick for best Dancehall single of 2014 isn’t a heavy, club-appropriate thumper. Instead, Popcaan‘s “Everything Nice” off his debut LP is a chilled groove. It is a feel-good downtempo that includes subtle synths and blissful percussion — these are elements that isn’t accustomed to typical Dancehall music. But that is what makes the song so special. It shows how far Popcaan has come as an artist, from Kartel’s side chargie to a budding solo star. Play this at any Caribbean party, and I bet you everyone will be singing it word for word with their approved two fingers in the air.
What were your favorite Dancehall tunes from the past year? Share them with us in the comments below!
Photo Courtesy of: Riddim Killa