Illustration: TTK

Murda She Wrote: Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Khalia x Tifa, Busy Signal, Elephant Man

With major festivals like Reggae Sumfest coming up next week in Montego Bay, Jamaica and Toronto’s Caribana right around the corner, mid July marks the peak of dancehall festival season. The genre’s biggest stars are serving up bangers that will soon be rocking a block party near you. Now hear this…

JAY-Z ft. Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley “Bam”

Dancehall-influenced sounds have had mainstream radio on lock for a minute now. So it’s no wonder that the biggest names in the rap game—from DJ Khaled to JAY-Z have blessed us with new sound-system ready joints. Of course DJ Khaled has been on the dancehall flex for a minute now. As a proud Brooklyn representative, Hov is no stranger to Jamaican culture. He’s rhymed over Kanye’s Scratch Perry samples and remixed Mavado’s “On The Roc(k)” in the past, but there can be no doubt as to his wickedest dancehall collab ever. Teaming up with fellow Tidal shareholder Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, JAY-Z created a tune called “Bam”—which also ranks as the hardest tune on 4:44.

Yup, it’s another take on Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam,” which is easily one of the most sampled reggae tracks in history. We may have been obsessed with the way  Kanye used the sample in “Famous,” but his mentor No I.D. flipped the reggae classic so nicely he give Ye’s verion a serious run for its money. Unlike “Famous,” “Bam” is a straight up dancehall lick—preserving the elements of the original “Stalag” Riddim and adding harder drums.  Not to mention the those hard bars. “Rude boy nuh live in a tenement yard,” Jr. Gong chants, chanting the hook from the late Jacob “Killer” Miller’s “Tenement Yard” as he complains about “Too much watchy watchy watchy.” Then, down near the end of the track, Gongzilla rips his own verse. “When me come a dance and mi spliff and Guinees / Yo crowd a people tell you mind your business / This a hunting season.” Consider this a warm-up for Gong’s Stony Hill album—the follow-up to Welcome To Jamrock—dropping next week.

Khalia x Tifa “Ride Up”

Whenver Lady Saw aka Marion Hall celebrates her birthday—as she did this past week, on July 12—dancehall fans get another timely a reminder how few and far and few between females stars are in the dancehall industry. Carrying on the legacy of icons like Saw and Sister Nancy are talents like Tifa aka the Princess of the Dancehall and rising star Khalia, who join forces on a futuristic Tony Kelly riddim to do what dancehall ladies do best: stay sexy. “Step inna di dance every man ah like…” the ladies chat, serving up double the trouble. “Them wan’ see mi kitty yeah / Wan’ know how it stay, if it pretty yeah…” To keep it 100, we don’t see enough females pairing up like this. Not since Cecile and Saw linked up on “Loser.” The dancehall is not a space for the faint-hearted and you better believe there’s no room for being understated. So get with it or get out because when everything “Ride Up” you need to keep up.

Busy Signal “Disresepct”

Make some noise for Busy Signal. This guy has gone from strength to strength, both personally and musically. The man never stops giving thanks to the Lord above for overcoming all types of obstacles. But don’t mess with Busy Signal because if he feels disrespected he might just call you out on his next single. During his first U.S. performance ended prematurely at the annual Groovin’ In The Park concert—presumably so that show organizers could get their headliner R Kelly on stage before curfew. Whoops! That did not turn out to be a good decision as the backlash froom Busy’s fans is probably still stinging the promoters. And Busy himself did not hesitate to speak out.  “It was the first concert my mom has attended” busy said in an interview after the show sitting next to his lawyer. But now he’s taken further action and released a song all about the incident, appropriately titled “Disrespect.” As you can image, Busy calls out the promoters on the new track: “How them lock off the mic when them wan’ see mi?” Busy queries. “48,000 people wan’ see mi!” But as the saying goes every dark cloud has a silver lining: despite this gig going pear-shaped the artist has turned his experience into yet another fly track.

Elephant Man “Jamaica Jamaica”

Step aside DJ Khaled! The Energy God is one-upping your Rihanna/Bryson Tiller collab “Wild Thoughts” and its sample of Carlos Santana’s “Maria Maria” with an anthem of his own, titled “Jamaica Jamaica.” The man who has infected the mainstream dancehall with more crazy dance moves than anybody else in the game—sweeping the floor to flagging down a plane—has a new move to teach you. “Put up your gun finger if you rep Jamaica” says Elly. Yep, it’s another signature smash from this pillar of the dancehall community. His final words to the ghetto youths? Have fun and stay boasy.

“Margarita” Riddim

Up and coming producer Konsequence Muzik serves up a gentle yet energetic juggling featuring inspirational cuts courtesy of Jahmiel and Deep Jahi. In the next segment newcomer Andre Shepherd steps up with a sweet lover’s selection. As the juggling continues, the tunes start to get a little bit more raw until by the end Eleyejah leaves nothing at all to the imagination. Just like a good margarita cocktail, this riddim is all about the balance of sweet and salt, with a strong finish.

01 Jahmiel “My Attention”
02 Deep Jahi “Fight With A Smile”
03 Andre Shepherd “Phone Call”
04 Chux Starr “Hobby”
05 Khago “It Have Mi”
06 Sim Sim 2 Bad “Fed Up”
07 Laden ft. Mink Jo Aka Tyra “Tight In Size”
08 Eleyejah “Baddest Fuck”

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