photo by Terence Price


Davido, spazzing.

I know my dance hall music, so forgive me for invoking instinctively invoking Sean Paul in this. But he did somehow break through to international stardom after being a mediocre artist at home, but more impressively with consistent hits from riddim builders (producers) in Jamaica. He hasn’t even come close to the initial impact with the transition to more mainstream producers like Stargate. That homegrown music development might be the thing that brings international youth-driven, call-and-response-by-spastic-dancing music to the forefront. Also, at this point, I’m convinced every other region and language does Caribbean-Pop better than the West Indies. 

A couple of bland attempts at a mainstream dance sound from Caribbean artists earlier this year turned out to be pretty disappointing. Fambo & Ricky Blaze’s effort “Pon Fire,” in which Fambo sounds more like what Flo Rida will sound like when he’s making rap-techno hits in his 70s (you know it’s going to happen), felt pretty lifeless. DJ Power’s “Fly So High" with Kardinal Offishall & Machel Montano is kind of a jam, mainly because of Machel Montano’s contribution. But it still lacks much of the "ragga-ragga" essence that gets people to dane to Caribbean dance tunes.

I have to admit I initially neglected this segment, but many Nigerian offerings seem to show exciting potential for purely danceable tunes. Jaywon’s “Why We Are Here" not only includes an uplifting message, but has part-chant, part-rap vocals gives me a vibe that doesn’t feel like it’s pandering. Davido’s "Dami Duro" has a clear rap influence in style and aesthetics, but the delivery and rhythms could easily be on a dance hall riddim circa 2007. This has been my jam of mine recently and explains why the only two images are from this video. One of the biggest sells of Davido’s song is just how much fun Davido has with the music. It’s a simple but very overlooked element.

Davido using a stack of money as a phone.

I’ve seen lots of blog posts, tags, etc for Tropical Bass, which annoys me about as much as the genre World music. It’s easy and convenient but is also bland and diminishes a lot from each music culture’s contributing sound.  Also, “Bass” is not a genre either, hipsters.

The song stream at the top is Don Omar’s “Hasta Que Salga El Sol.” It’s a summer jam. It’s smooth. You are likely to see people grind to this sooner or later. Reggaeton might have an unfair advantage over West African rhythms, et al considering it’s development began around the same time as dance hall did, and probably has more iterations than the Jamaican art form. But for me it helps to demarcate an important point in the Caribbean’s influence in music across the world, and consequently on the way people party across the world.

Only goodness can come from music made with sincere and pure intentions to drive people to shake body parts to it’s rhythm.

  1. blackbeans posted this
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