Dancehall made its mark on mainstream music in 2016. With well-known pop artists taking cues from dancehall's vibes and flare; artists like Drake with "One Dance," Rihanna with "Work" and Justin Bieber's "Sorry." In 2016, popular music was dancehall, dancehall became pop music. We also saw many original dancehall veterans like Mr. Vegas and Sean Paul stage major comebacks this year. In 2016, new and old dancehall artists were kings (and queens). Whether it was for their new collaborations or their influence on mainstream music, dancehall artists ruled music this year.
With so many songs and great artists to choose from its hard to narrow it down, but try we must. So here is KingstonToLA's Top Ten Dancehall Songs of 2016.
To start our Top Ten list, pulling in at number ten we have a "Major Key Alert" featuring Mavado for his song "Progress." Voiced over the Money Boss Riddim, the song is a reminder to always move forward and keep progress. Never stay idle. Keep your head down and progress to the next level. Work hard, play hard. It's a great message to carry on into 2017 after a rather rough 2016.
We have to give mad props to the artist who occupies our number nine spot, Dexta Daps. Dexta was one of dancehall's biggest breakout stars of 2016. His R&B infused dancehall style is on full display with the single "Mi C Mi Bed N Miss U." Daps does his part and keeps the ladies happy with the slow, soulful jam, as it shows he is the master of dancehall love songs. He's working on a new album and more tour dates coming in 2017. We can't wait.
Pulling up at number eight, we have our first female dancehall star to make the cut, Ishawana for her single "Everybody Needs Someone," produced by DJ Frass Records. In the music industry for about a decade, Ishawna has worked with the likes of Bounty Killer, Don Corleone, and Jamaican cross-over artist Safaree Samuels, to name a few. The sexy music video of the aforementioned single was directed by Jay Parpworth and hit over 50,000 views in its first week. That was a sure sign that the beautiful Ishawana had a hit on her hands.
Aidonia is sitting pretty at number seven for "Dat A Di Ting," backed by the popular Pile Up Riddim, from DJ Sunshine. The creator of his own record label, 4th Generation, Aidonia has been doing his ting in dancehall music for quite some time. Most of his inspiration for creating music and lyrics comes from his own life experiences. Now, with his renewed travel documents, The Genna has a lot of touring to catch up on. KingstonToLA was lucky enough to see him perform "Dat A Di Ting" live at The Savoy for his first-ever Los Angeles show. He definitely knows how to work the crowd. Keep a look out for more tour dates in 2017.
With dancehall being seen as a man's sport, it's nice to have some more feminine mystique in our Top Ten list. Holding down the number six position is Grace "Spice" Hamilton. Spice, also known as Queen of the Stage, puts on one of the best stage shows in all of dancehall. Earlier in the year, she took the stage at one of Los Angeles' premier dancehall venues, The Savoy. Watching that stage show, that's when we knew her track, "Indicator" would go down as one of the top dancehall songs of 2016.
Our number five spot goes to the dancehall artist that had the most fun this year, Chi Ching Ching and his single "Roast Or Fry (Breadfruit)." Signed to Popcaan's Unruly label, trendsetter and tastemaker Chi Ching Ching embodies the spirit of the island. So, it is appropriate that he sang about Jamaica's staple food, breadfruit. Turning it into a catchy tune, pondering the question: how do you like your breadfruit? Roast or fry (roasted or fried)? Traditional dancehall pairs popular songs with a dance style and Chi Ching Ching always delivers both for his fans. His quirky lyrics are a perfect match to create new dancehall moves that quickly spreads in the wonderful world of dancehall choreography.
Alkaline grabs our number four slot with his dancehall tune "Formula," off his New Level Unlocked album. Alkaline described the title of his album, saying it was about life lessons; taking everything you have learned from life and applying it to always move forward. We are most definitely looking forward to what 2017 has in store for Alkaline and for all of us.
One of the most trending songs of 2016 was Konshens' single "Bruk Off" and it occupies our number three spot. The music video has over 27 million views on YouTube. Konshens is ending 2016 on a great note as he gets ready to release the follow up to his 2012 album Mental Maintenance. The artist recently released the single "Power Move," a never before seen collaboration with dancehall greats Sean Paul and Vybz Kartel. The single is already blazing its way into the new year.
Unruly Gang leader, Popcaan, came out swinging in 2016 when Drake showed him some love on Views with the artist's "Love Yuh Bad" sample on "Too Good." Popcann's year was not without controversy, as his original verse was cut from Drake's single, "Controlla." Yet, this controversy seemed to increase his popularity, as Drake and dancehall fans alike searched the web for the original version of the track. His single, "Ova Dweet" was released around the same time as Views. Call it kismet, but it propelled Popcaan's popularity even further into the mainstream. The single is a song that we heard playing in every dancehall set and it continues to be nicely suited for the sound systems. The poppy and fresh instrumentals combined with Popcaan's cool swift vocals made it perfect for our number two slot as well as one of our top anthems of 2016.
Vybz Kartel hit us with several fire tracks this year. In January, Vybz started off strong with seven fresh new songs, all of which were recorded before his incarceration. Kartel kept the momentum by releasing more songs as the year progressed, all leading up to his fifth studio album, King of the Dancehall in June. The album debuted the single "Fever," produced by hit-maker Devin "DJ Perf" Peyrefitte, and led the charge as the first song from the 14-track album. The X-rated tune has been a constant at dancehalls since early summer and shows no signs of slowing down as we enter the new year. So, with that in mind, the king gets our top spot and really the MVP of the year for dancehall music.
Stay tuned on KingstonToLA.com for more dancehall coverage as dancehall continues to excite, grow and expand!