- 5th April, 2016 | 2397 views
Dancehall Can’t Dead : How Dancehall has influenced the mainstream
Dancehall is taking over the charts again in a big way as Rihanna, Justin Beiber have massive tracks with a dancehall vibe. But who remembers when dancehall was not as accepted as it is now???
Dancehall in its current form has always straddled the line of social acceptance. From its early existence artists like Yellow Man and Eeko Mouse toasted over riddims describing the streets, the culture and lifestyle of Downtown Jamaica. Artists like Shabba Ranks and Beenie man took dancehall or ragga as it became known to the world with tracks that charted in both the US and UK.
The high energy riddims and contagious flows of artists kept people dancing throughout the late 80s and 90s. However, the raw powerful and unadulterated lyrics of dancehall got worldwide criticism and stopped the movement in its tracks . Dancehall was outlawed, artists banned, mainstream clubs would never allow dancehall to be played and DJs were forced to play in community centre dances or shubeens across the cities.
The 2000’s saw dancehall seep through the mainstream cracks once again with early Rihanna, Elephant Man and Sean Paul gaining chart success. Dancing had always been a big part of the genre but with videos and performances Sean Paul and Elephant man and other artist had people whining , logging on and dutty whining around the city. Whilst DJs such as Goldfinger (Radio 1) and Big John (Choice FM/ Galaxy) were blasting the sound on the airwaves.
Although in the clubs we still were limited to what we heard through the speakers. Prominent dancehall DJs still could not be put on lineups or flyers. Event organiser and Real Dancehall promoter Triple S recalls times when DJs were told to change the dancehall they were playing as the police had entered the club.
Triple S known for bringing dancehall on to popular Broad St in the Midlands with his popular Ikandi Dancehall Affair brand recounts the opposition he was met with and how times have changed.
“There were always pressure on clubs to appear anything but urban. We were expected to conform to a predetermined image dreamed up for the city by those in power.
It became more difficult to market authentically urban events for the fear of a visit from licensing officials and the event being deemed so high risk that the security measures required meant that the event now became financially unviable. All this despite dancehall being played up and down broad street by ‘less urban’ venues. Dancehall is intwined in the UK’s party culture and as such should be embraced with open arms by all.”
Dancehall took a major blow in 2014 when the hottest artist of the generation Vybz Kartel was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams. But even that hasn’t halted the Dancehall train as Vybz still releases tracks from behind bars.
Now we are seeing dancehall played in the charts in the clubs and taken over by pop artists, with Drake being the latest artist to lay down a dancehall inspired track “Controlla” with Popcaan. This alongside Jamaican artists Mavado and Alkaline means once again dancehall is playing a major influence in music across the world which proves that Dancehall Can’t Dead.
Watch out for Real Dancehall Saturday 9th April at Myyst with Some of Dancehall’s biggest DJ’s playing special Dancehall sets from past to present. Click here for more information on the night