Also known as ragga or dub, dancehall music originated in the late 1970s during a time of political turbulence. Since then, dancehall music has evolved into our Island’s most dominant music form.
JARIA‘s Reggae Wednesdays Dancehall Diamonds Edition, held virtually on February 2nd, was a cultural celebration like no other. Admittedly the pandemic has taken away some of the edge and ambience provided at physical dancehall street events. Notwithstanding, Dancehall Diamonds Edition was a Boom Box Friday takeover. And what a way to celebrate the music than where dancehall originated; in the streets of Kingston.
Dancehall Artistry Showcase
Dancehall artists from past and present graced the stage, showcasing their talents and love for the music. The opening segment saw artists such as Harry Toddler, General B, Leopard, and Kerry Lopez singing their rendition of Dennis Brown’s 1983 classic, “Easy take it easy”.
Beekle Baily, the inimitable 90s dancehall artist, was the night’s MC. Dapperly dressed in a two-piece suit; he immediately owned the stage singing “Man a king”. Leopard was the first act on stage, and he brought the vibes and energy, providing a taste of what performing on a dancehall stage is all about. Tracey Mowett pleased the audience with her melodic voice singing her rendition of Veronika Bozeman’s hit song, “What is love”. Her versatility was on display as she went on to perform her dancehall single “No gal can’t.”
It was nothing short of entertaining throughout the intermission as the dancers took the spotlight, demonstrating their dancing prowess, further highlighting the essence of what dancehall provides for its patrons. As the Selecta dropped tune after tune, the vibe of the music intensified. Dancehall music is an art form like none other that enables its listeners to exude creativity through dancing.
The Afrocentric vibe of Kerry Lopez was nothing short of entertaining, as she graced the stage singing her hit single “dearest Daddy” This would not be dancehall without the unique sounds of those in the audience. Lighters sparked, and even the Rastaman with the two pot covers clapped them to the beat as he danced.
Trouble Deh Deh
Recording artist Boom Dandimite ran onto the stage full of energy, singing “Trouble deh deh” to the crowd’s cheers. Mr ‘hits after hits’ himself; General B performed “A just the music”. His song spoke volumes about what the night represented, celebrating the music that Jamaica has brought to the world. Dancehall music is such a powerful art form. “It educates, elevates, and motivates”. These were words spoken by General B before he went into his hit “Nicki”, which sent the audience into a frenzy, singing word for word. He called on stage Lazer Matrixx and Tishana, aka Pinky Famous, to perform their songs, and they did not disappoint, ending to a loud cheer from the patrons.
Originally from the famous Scare dem crew, Harry Toddler, also filled with energy, kick-started his set with the hit single “Don’t run een”. His opening moved the entire crowd to begin dancing up a storm, which is dancehall in its element. He ensured to show love to one of the dancehall’s great dancers Mr Wacky aka Bogle, with his classic “Dance the Angel”. In true dancehall fashion, those in the audience and the dancers on stage didn’t miss a beat while dancing. Harry Toddler’s performance wouldn’t be complete without him belting out his hit “Pressure Cooker”. Might I add that a gold pressure cooker was involved in the performance? The endless creativity of our dancehall artist was on full display. The dancing didn’t stop there. The sound of “Abuya” came from Toddlers mic, causing an immediate eruption as the audience danced to his hit song “Middle east.”
Dancehall Diamonds Sparkled
To conclude the evening’s spectacle was recording artist Mr Lexx. The “Let those Monkey’s out” artist got nothing but praise for his work. Beginning his segment with the single “Crocodile”. He sang “Gal yuh better can cook” among others, to the delight of those present. Mr Lexx moreover made sure not to leave the ladies out of his performance as he serenaded them singing “Struck by love”. Likewise, the set would not be complete without a few of his classics, and he didn’t let us down.
The celebration of Jamaica’s Reggae culture in essence is unique. The art form originating in the 1970s still paves the way for Jamaica and its creatives. The Dancehall Diamond Edition of Reggae month was a blast and one to remember for ages to come.