Dancehall is Jamaica’s Golden Child
The Evolution of Dancehall
Dancehall originated in the late 1970s in Kingston, Jamaica branching off from its parent genre, Reggae. Named after the dancehalls that housed local sound systems, from early sound systems like Coxsone’s Downbeat Soundsystem and King Tubby’s Hometown Hi-Fi that featured MC’s and a DJ, to crews like Gemini, Kilamanjaro who evolved to feature live bands to go with their monstrous speaker arrays.
Jamaica gave life to a space that was responsible for the cultural creation and dissemination of ideologies reflective of the island’s inner cities. The music and artists of the genre are representatives of day to day life and combine elements of the American gangster ideal with the true stories of hardship that plagued the lower and working-class people off Kingston. The music explores Kingston’s 6 G’s: guns, gyals, ghetto, gays, ganja, and God and utilizes track instrumentals better known as “riddims” to paint the portrait of Jamaica’s most lively music scene.
Buju Banton: The Modern Dancehall Pioneer
Buju Banton is widely considered one of the most influential and well-regarded musicians in dancehall and Jamaican history. With singles dating back to 1987, his impact yields legendary status as his 2nd album, Mr. Mention (1992) went on to become the greatest selling album in Jamaican history. Though Banton faced much adversity, the island of Jamaica along with the world celebrated his return to music this year with a new album “The Upside Down 2020 Experience”
Contributed by Greer Baker a writer from The Clive Davis Institute x Billboard MUSIC INDUSTRY ESSENTIALS program.