MURDA SHE WROTE: Vybz Kartel, Gorillaz x Popcaan, Konshens x Chris Brown, Mavado
The best real dancehall music out right now.
Drizzy Drake has the internet going nuts with More Life, which has shattered streaming records set by his previous release, Views. Like many Toronto yutes, Drake has been a fan of dancehall for a long time and he’s showing it once more on his latest release. Even the title was borrowed from a tune by the dancehall World Boss, Yet despite using of the word “Riddim” in a song title, shouting out Unruly, and peppering his playlist with plenty patois, let’s be clear about one thing: this is not a dancehall album. Not even a likkle bit. With that said, let’s ease into the real ting…
Vybz Kartel “Politics Time”
If anyone knows about getting caught up in politics—or “politricks” as he might prefer—Vybz Kartel has a pretty good idea. This month kicked off with great news as the appeal of Kartel’s murder conviction was pushed through the Jamaica courts. But he’s also been in the news because a former government official Lisa Hannah made a statement that all of Kartel’s music should be banned from the airwaves due to the fact that he’s a convicted killer. His latest release—taken from ZJ Liquid’s new Black & White album—speaks directly to the issue. When faced with these types of situations the debate seems to be endless, but one thing is for sure—there is no debate on how popular Kartel’s music is. No other artist can speak to the streets like the World Boss. His connection to the ghetto yutes keeps him playing in the dances and has given him a following like no other artist of our time. “Well it’s politics time again and the yutes are dying,” he sings over Liquid’s relick of the classic Dave Kelly riddim “Man Fi Dead,” named for a classic Buju Banton selection of the same name. Kartel speaks of his decisions and how he deals with the system: “politics trick me from the start, so mi nah go vote again,” he states, making it clear what he thinks of the leaders in these high positions: “We see them every five years like an eclipse. Bare smiling face and lying lips.”
Gorillaz ft. Popcaan “Saturnz Barz (Spirit House)”
This week Popcaan popped up on a major collab with British group Gorillaz, the first single off their upcoming album Humanz. In the song’s signature style animated video—which has already been viewed over 15 million times—the group members (2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs) turn up to a haunted house and split up to explore the place. The Unruly Boss soon takes over, singing the main vocal as his character takes on the forn of various spirits and objects floating around the house—from a giant one-eyed snake to a talking slice of pizza. Against this eerie visual journey, Papi spins one of his indelible melodies singing an autobiographical account of his experiences so far. “All my life—me neva have mi gun so mi haffi move sharp like mi knife,” going on to note that “I’ve been encouraged to be a killer like Rodney Price.” (That’s a reference to Bounty Killer’s born name, in case you never know.) The song is a major international look for Popcaan, as well as a reminder of how versatile the Unruly Boss can be. Often referred to as the “raving king” when he first burst on the scene, the Unruly Boss has now built up a catalog of A-list tracks ranging from badness to reality to one of his favorite subjects—”de gyal dem.” Although it wasn’t produced in Jamaica, the “Saturn Barz” beat is sure to fit right in at the next Unruly Wednesday juggling.
Konshens x Chris Brown “Bruk Off Yuh Back (Remix)”
The last year or so has been a crazy stretch for dancehall vibes in the mainstream. With so many pop stars—from Drake to Bieber to Rihanna—lacing the charts with reggae-infused hits, it was starting to feel as if the music’s epicenter was shifting out of the Caribbean altogether. Amidst all these outernational movements, Konshens’ “Bruk Off Yuh Back” (formerly “Bruk Off Me Cock”) was the biggest straight-up dancehall track to come out of Jamaica. So it’s no surprise to see R&B bad bwoy Chris Brown jumping on the remix. “The man dem know that when you see Konshens pon the flyer there’s gonna be a lot of ladies,” he recently explained to me. And there aren’t many girls who would deny themselves a quick “bruk off” with Chris Brown if the opportunity were to arise. The track has not changed a bit—Birhchill’s “Moskato Riddim” runs straight through with just a few added FX—and Breezy. “Who you ah ramp with? Ah no game,” Konshens declaires just like on the original. Then in comes Chris Brown. You may not recognise him at first but it seems he’s been polishing up on his patois: “Bruk off yuh back Baby girl, gwan wind it up” he sings. “Pull up, pull up, gun shot!” A feel good sex tune for the ladies—not mad!
Mavado “Dirt Nap”
It might be spring but it’s still dark outside and Mavado sure is feeling the darkness on his latest release for DJ Sunshine’s Yellowmoon Productions. Over a punchy mid-tempo track the Gully Gad warns his enemies to frankly back the fuck up—otherwise they may just be taking a long-ass snooze in the grave. “Gwan pray,” Mavado Never one to mince his words, Mavado has had enough experience with back-stabbers over the years and he’s calling them all out on this tune. “Them didn’t wanna see you rich, they don’t wanna see me with cars and hot bitch,” he laments. “Over shoes nuff a them run go switch, tell them swim in the sea with the fish.” As for those thinking of crossing the gully side with no regard for the consequences, Mavado urges them to think again. “This year man ah pressure dem” he sings in a none-too-subtle warning. “So if dem think ah the past years, tell them check again.” Nuff said.
Markus Records’ Connection Riddim
As the son of dancehall icon Buju Banton, Markus Myrie was born into the business. But your name will only carry you so far in this game. By producing worldwide hits like Popcaan’s “Only Man She Want” he built up a solid reputation for his Markus Records brand. Popcaan leads up his latest riddim, with a tune called “Unruly King” that sounds like it will be another massive tune for his catalog. Also featured on the vibesy new juggling are Jahmiel, Vershon Jafrass and Versatile. Markus always has a special vibe with Vanessa Bling, and their new tune “Chosen” is no exception. “Give me a money counter, cause we no tek check round yah,” she chats confidently. “Every know say me a boss lady.” Sounds like another win.
Popcaan “Unruly King”
Versatile “Gyalis Fi Dem A Road”
Vershon “Too Young”
Vanessa Bling “Chosen”
Jaffrass “Tun It Up”
Jahmiel “Too Dumb”