Dancehall is the anaesthetizing force of the entire universe, and for the naysayers and so-called dancehall insiders who like to declare the artform as a dying business because of the rise of Afrobeats, and a myriad of other factors, boy, they are in for a surprise: dancehall is alive and well.
Incarcerated deejay Vybz Kartel remains in the top spot as the most streamed entertainer out of Jamaica. With bonafide hits like ‘Any Weather’ , ‘Beat Dem Bad’ featuring Squash and ‘Like I’m Superman’, the deejay has only got better over time. The Teacha’s online verbal spat with one-time protege Adonia underlines the gulf he has placed with every other artiste in his generation. He has proven himself as dancehall’s Picasso and sits at the top of our Hot in 2019 ranking.
Newcomers Chronic Law (pictured above) and Squash have now entered the top five of the most streamed artistes out of Jamaica fuelling the rise of the 6ix. Squash’s singles like ‘Trending’, ‘Beat Dem Bad’, the aforementioned collaboration with Kartel, ‘Oh Lala La’ and his online fisticuffs with Alkaline, has cemented his place on this year’s list, racking up 15.3 million streams. Chronic Law has had a breakout year as well with songs such as ‘Bless Me’, ‘Hide My Tears’ , ‘Government’ and his monster hit, ‘Hillside’, and is now a bonafide star in the world of dancehall. In the process, he amassed 20.9 million streams over the past 12 months. Daddy1, another key member of the 6Ix, continues to do well with songs like ‘BroGad’, ‘Anthem’ and ‘Out Here’, and the best is yet to come, because 2020 could be his time to ascend to the next level.
Apart from reggae stalwarts like Toots Hibbert, top flight deejay Buju Banton perhaps earned the most money touring the globe and performing for legions of his fans. The deejay closed the year on a high as his linkup with ace producer Dave Kelly inspired ‘Trust Phone’, and a video for the project has racked up 2.2 million views in two weeks since its release.
Koffee is undeniably the most popular artiste in Jamaica, with 2019 being huge for her since releasing her “Rapture” EP in March. The success of the single “Toast” has helped her garner attention worldwide, dominating the Billboard Reggae Charts, and winning favour with President Obama when he included the song on his 2019 Summer Playlist. Most recently, during Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ visit to China, the song was performed by the Chinese Military Band. Nineteen-year-old Koffee has brought a younger generation of fans to reggae music with her infectious positive energy and gratitude-fueled sound. Koffee’s Toast holds the coveted top spot with 3.91 million streams over the past 12 months. Her “Rapture” EP was recently nominated for “Best Reggae Album” for the 2020 Grammy Awards and can only be attributed to the success of her music thus far. The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards will take place on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles.
Shenseea comes in at number 5 in our Hot in 2019 ranking. Her combination with Tyga, ‘Blessed’, racked up over 34 million views on YouTube, and she secured mainstream play on major radio stations in the US. She has also been booked solid at events all over the world, but she arguably made a major misstep when she ripped into former friend, Jada Kingdom during the Red Bull Culture Clash at the National Arena in Kingston in November. Shenseea spewed disparaging lyrics about Jada and questioned her credentials as an artiste. Jada’s response was immediate and potentially career-damaging, as she unleashed a diss track online called ‘Shen Heng’ that racked up over one million plus views. She ridiculed Shenseaa with razor-sharp disses applied with almost surgical precision, calling her “a big coward-groupie’.
Spice, who has over 2.4 million followers on IG, is next in the rankings. The de facto Queen of Dancehall has been racking up the frequent flyer miles performing all over the world as she brings her saucy brand of dancehall to the forefront. She did ‘Back Way’ with Vybz Kartel that racked up nine million views, and ‘Tables Turn’ that registered 8.5 million views, and her booty-jumping feature on Stylo G’s ‘Dumpling’ remix ensured that she is still at the top of her game.
Dexta Daps had a great year, starting off with the sultry ‘No Underwear’ and he showed great versatility with ‘Leader’, a collaboration with Masicka that earned 5.1 million views in only three months.
Munga Honorable has seen a resurgence of his career in the fall of 2018 leading into this year thanks to the success of his single “Nah Mad (Ova Nuh Gal).” A music video, which was released on January 1, now has over 10 million views. However, in late January, the dancehall singjay had to count his lucky stars when he was involved in a fatal car crash that took the life of his girlfriend, 26-year-old Tashana Cumbermack, a Canadian citizen. Munga was not driving at the time. He recovered from that to do shows all over the world as his travel ban – due to a murder charge – was officially lifted in the Supreme Court in June of this year. Munga, whose real name is Damian Rhoden, is charged with murder of Cleveland Smith, who was shot dead on Molynes Road on February 12, 2017. The murder case has been in “case management” for several months.
Speaking of comebacks, Tommy Lee made a great comeback this year with the song, ‘Blessing’ which is the second most streamed song coming out of Jamaica with 3.49 million streams. A video for the project racked up 9.6 million views.
Honourable mentions include Masicka who had a quiet effective year filled with multiple tour dates and the ‘Unruly Boss’ Popcaan who possesses countless hits, and who staged a another successful ‘Unruly Fest’.