Murda She Wrote: Mavado, IShawna, Popcaan, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Stephen “Ragga” Marley
The best real dancehall music out right now.
Anytime the war vibes simmer down in the dancehall is a good time to celebrate. Closing out April strong, the Jamaican music scene seems to be cooling off the gun thing just a touch and returning to the fundamentals: songs about God, girls, and ganja. Who could be mad at that? And with Spring in the air you know there’s bound to be some discussion about what is acceptable bedroom behavior. Explicit content ahead.
Mavado “Ride All Night”
When you think about which dancehall artist can deliver big tunes for the girls and the gangsters same way, Mavado is one name that always comes to mind. Throughout the end of 2016 the Gully Gad was in major war mode, flinging lyrical bullets at adversaries old and new. But Chimney Records sultry piano-driven instrumental; inspires the Gangster for Life to sing a tune his female fans can really feel. Making his preferences very very clear, Mavado proclaims his love for a girl who can “ride all night” in the bedroom. Leaving nothing to the imagination he praises her tightness (“like a Vice-Grip”) and mentions that she should be “wet like a Waterworld,” but he doesn’t discriminate on race: “Indian, black white, Chiney—my kind of girl.” I predict a lot of special requests in this song’s future.
Ishawna “Equal Rights & Justice”
“Shape of You” Remix
In the last edition of this column Spice burned out the men who “hide and eat gal like beef patty.” Now here comes Ishawna with a different argument in her song “Equal Rights & Justice” aka “What Your Tongue Can Do.” The “Princess of the Dancehall” first broke onto the scene when she was DJ Foota Hype’s girlfriend. Since then she’s dealt with public breakups, rumors, and open discussions of her relationship status. After all that Ishawna still stands strong as one of the best female artists in the game. When you think of Ishawna you think “sexy,” but on this song—a remix of Ed Sheeran’s dancehall-inflected hit “Shape of You”—her trademark sexiness goes through the roof. No stranger to controversy, Ishawna tackles the subject of oral sex head on (no pun intended). In Jamaica men performing oral sex on women is still a taboo subject. if it goes on it’s not an open topic of conversation without a big discussion. But it seems Ishawana simply doesn’t give a shit. “You never hear about foreplay? Ah modern times boy, relax—it’s ok.” This is a big deal within dancehall music, which has always enforced very specific codes of conduct when it comes to sex. As Ishawna’s song title suggests, she’s demanding equal rights and justice: “If you wan’ head my yute, yuh have to suck this,” she sings straight-up. “Mi wan’ look inna your dreamy eyes when you ah chew pon mi pum pum like french fries.” And if you think she likes the soft touch then you better think again. “Deal with me like bag juice” she demands. Just make sure your damn mouth is clean!
Popcaan “Stronger Now”
“Fight dem a fight when a rise man a rise,” Popcaan reflects on his latest collab with go-to producer Ainsley ‘Notnice’ Morris. No matter how much feel-good Popcaan’s music gets you can always hear a real message from a real youth coming through. “Stronger Now” is a reflective tune that finds Papi reaffirming his core values—“God over Devil, you know?”—and downplaying his materialistic accomplishments while highlighting his real-life journey through darkness into the light. ”Man ah forward from dumplin’ and gravy,” he sings about the progression that’s taken place for him. History shows that rising up through the ranks and achieving true stardom is not an easy process. “We nuh give a fuck weh di media say,” Popcaan sings. “We just listen weh di real a say,” keeping his head in the right place. But make no mistake, the artist is extraordinarily focused. “See them underestimate bad man / Right now mi colder than London / Nah stop shake the hater dem, one one.”
Damian Marley ft. Stephen Marley “Medication”
From the album Stony Hill
Premiering on the worldwide weed holiday of 4/20, “Medication” provides a bubbling rub-a-dub riddim upon which the Marley Brothers confess their love for Merry Jane. As the ancient culture of marijuana industry continues to grow into a multi-billion dollar, there’s more and more awareness of the medicinal potency of the most popular plant on the planet. However for the Marleys this is no newfound love affair. Both Damian and his elder brother Stephen were born into the Rastafari culture. Instilled with the belief that “Herb is the healing of the nation,” they’ve been privy to those benefits for years. The latest single from Damian Marley’s long-awaited album Stony Hill, due out this July 21, “Medication” is a classic combination tune where Jr. Gong deejays the verses and then Ragga floats in to deliver the chorus: “Elevation, your medication makes me high.”
Various Artists “Money Mix” Riddim
Good Good Productions
On “Money Mix,” the latest riddim from MoBay’s Good Good Productions, producer Zum takes us back to vintage 80s dancehall vibes. The throwback sound of the “Money Mix” riddim inspires Kartel to dip into some classic 90s dancehall selections: Gregory Peck’s “Poco Man Jam,” the original hit on the influential riddim track that’s widely referred to as the “Dem Bow” riddim. The other tune Kartel patterns his flow after is Admiral Bailey’s massive “Science Again”—the original anti-obeah anthem. “Hooba-Kabba Habba-Kabba” is Kartel’s shout-out to Bailey’s original lyrics, poking fun at the mystical phrases obeah workers call out when they’re practicing “Science.” The rest of the juggling keeps up the vintage vibes, with Mavado’s “Fresh Cash” standing out as the riddim’s other top selection—in that embodies the concept of the riddim, i.e. all about money. The lineup is stacked with strong female artists: Tifa buns out “Chicken Heads” while Shenseea & Boom Boom buss a song called “Wine” while Spice & D’Angel join forces for “No Worries” not to mention a track called “Lifestyle” by TV personality Yanique the Curvy Diva. Of course Savage, Masicka, and Ky-Mani Marley do their thing as well, all contributing strong cuts in the juggling. Overall, the “Money Mix” Riddim brings dancehall forward to the vibes that made it a global force in the first place.
01 – Vybz Kartel – Poco Man Skank
02 – Shenseea & Boom Boom – Wine
03 – Mavado – Fresh Cash
04 – Tifa – Chicken Head
05 – Savage – Watch
06 – I-Octane & Ding Dong – Stop Wild Up
07 – Kiprich – Eye Top
08 – Kymani Marley – Angel
09 – Masicka – 10 Outta 10
10 – Teejay & Kapella Don – Home
11 – Shane 0 – Better Urself
12 – Spice & D’angel – No Worries
13 – Yaneek Curvy Diva – Lifestyle
14 – Marvin & Nickeisha – Clean & Fresh
15 – Money Mix Riddim – Good Good Production