Here is my yearly chart of the best songs of the previous year. This is done via my radio program, ‘Yard Bounce’, and runs through what I consider to be the 30 best tunes in dancehall for 2011.
1. VYBZ KARTEL - Summertime (Summertime Riddim: Adidjahiem)
2. MAVADO & LAZA MORGAN - One By One (Elektra)
3. SEAN PAUL & ALEXIS JORDAN - Got 2 Luv U (Star Gate)
4. MAVADO - Settle Down (Overproof Riddim: JA)
5. DEMARCO - Love My Life (Star Kutt)
6. SPECIALIST - Street Hustle (Phone Card, Bananna Chips, Cash Fi Gold) (Downsound)
7. MAVADO - Final Destination (Summer Fling Riddim: Chimney Records)
8. POPCAAN - Only Man She Want (Lost Angel Riddim: High Stakes/Sonique)
9. KHAGO - Blood A Boil (Bottle Party Riddim: TJ)
10. AIDONIA - Summer Sun (Dre Day/Star Status)
11. I OCTANE - Badmind Fi The Year (Cashflow)
12. CHARLY BLACK - Too Blessed (TGIF Riddim: Coppershot)
13. WAYNE MARSHALL - Good Ole Wife (Matrimony Riddim: Washroom)
14. BEENIE MAN - Nah Talk Too Long (Hungry Dawgz Riddim: Seanizzle)
15. ASSASSIN - Drink & Merry (Drink & Party Riddim: D’Que)
16. MAVADO - Do Road (Contra Riddim: ZJ Chrome)
17. SHABBA - None A Dem (Pepper Riddim: Big Ship)
18. I OCTANE - Nuh Dream Bout Boy (Young Money: Good Good)
19. DI GENIUS - Nuh Beg Friend (Bad Acid Riddim: Big Ship)
20. CHRIS MARTIN & RICHIE LOOPS - Summer Spazz (Scikron/Big Yard)
21. BOUNTY KILLER - Ready Fi Dem (Run Di Place Riddim: Boardhouse)
22. POPCAAN - City (Eternal Riddim: Not Nice)
23. ASSASSIN - JPS (Big Dog Riddim: Boardhouse)
24. VYBZ KARTEL - Duppy Know (V6 Riddim: ZJ Chrome)
25. VYBZ KARTEL - Bike Back (Adidjahiem)
26. TONY MATTERHORN - Dancehall Duppy (Circle Dem Riddim: CD Master)
27. MACKA DIAMOND - Cow Foot (Shadane)
28. LADY SAW - Wife A Wife (Star A Star Riddim: TJ)
29. BEENIE MAN - Inna Di Go Go Club (357)
30. CHAN DIZZY - Hello Badmind (Head Concussion)
2011 proved to be another fantastic year for dancehall music. Despite the constant detractors and traditionalists who refuse to embrace the evolutionary nature of the music, the sheer volume of good music that was released made it difficult for me to come up with a final countdown. There were a large number of tunes that could have easily made it and in the case of this list the deciding factor was usually chart success and overall reception in Jamaica. To a lesser extent, attention was paid to the global response to a particular tune.
Vybz Kartel had, as has become the norm, a slew of hits that could have made it. His two collaborations with Russian, ‘Look Pon We’ and ‘Get Gal Anywhere’ were both huge but I was unable to find a spot for them in the final list. Given his legal woes, it remains to be seen whether this may be his last roll of the dice as a perennial chart-topper. This all hinges on the amount of material that is yet to be released. After all, it would be remiss to let a Jamaican artist be stifled by such circumstances as incarceration or even death.
The other big gun, Mavado, seemed to shift a gear this year and as a result a great deal of what he touched turned to gold. While lacking in the overall prolificacy of Kartel, Mavado managed a number of entries on to the list and his cut on the Pepper riddim could have easily pipped the Shabba Ranks selection that I eventually made. The mega-hit “Delilah” was only denied by personal taste which reinforces that these lists are always subjective to some extent. I-Octane had a superb year and is now an undisputed a-grader. Perhaps it was a consequence of trying to counter my own personal bias towards an artist which I have followed since near his beginnings, but I managed to omit some tunes that were certainly worthy of their place on any list. These included “One Ting Mi Know Seh”, “Short Term Memory”, “Burn Dem Bridge”, “Nuh Ramp Wid We” and “Ting Dem Loud” to name a few. Vybz Kartel’s protégé, Popcaan, had a breakout year and now deserves to be taken seriously in his own right. His mega hit “Raving” was only denied by the ‘one track per riddim’ rule I employed in the countdown this year as was his tune on the V6 Riddim, “See Me and Talk” which was only narrowly beaten by Vybz Kartel’s effort. Other hits such as “Party Shot” and “Clean” also deserve special mention. Other tunes that were unlucky not to find a way into the top 30; Wayne Marshall, Future Fambo and Tifa – Swaggin’, almost every other cut on both the Bad Acid and Summer Fling riddims, Sean Paul and Future Fambo – Wedding Crashers, a number of cuts on the Armagiddion riddim, Buju Banton – Pedal Pusher, Toya and Beenie Man – One Man Woman, Cliftwang Brown – Nobody Canna Cross It, Mr. Vegas – Beautiful Life, Mr. Vegas – Certain Law, Busy Signal – Swag Tun Up, Nicky B and Sean Paul – If It Isn’t Love, Wasp – Thank You, Chan Dizzy – Mek We Party. Riddims deserving special mentions included Matrimony, Life, White Label, Bed Squeek, BBQ, Love Salute, XXX, Buss Pipe, Nymphomaniac, Island Vibes, 12 to 12, Sunrise, VSOP, Bubblegum, and TGIF.
So ends another fantastic year in Jamaican music. Personally, the main result of this countdown is to reaffirm my love for Jamaican music and to build anticipation and excitement for another twelve months of quality releases.