Words by Gabriel Heatwave
Hello again. Sorry, we had to take a break from Cockney & Yardie last month as it’s been a bit of a busy summer. In between a bunch of festivals including Glastonbury (UK) and Outlook (Croatia), playing on Notting Hill Carnival soundsystems and floats, supporting Sean Paul live and celebrating the eighth birthday of Heatwave, there hasn’t been much time to rummage through the crates and pick out the cream of UK bashment for our friends across the pond.
But it has been a fertile time for dancehall in the UK and a couple of the predictions I made here back in January are very much coming true: bigger and bigger bashment hits from UK artists, producers and labels of all genres working with dancehall MCs and an increasing interest in dancehall music and culture. You’ll see evidence for the first two in the rundown below, while the third became clear as we played to thousands and thousands of people all over the UK and Europe this summer. I have never seen dancehall/bashment get that level of reception at mainstream music events.
Unfortunately, we haven’t really seen the big JA tunes cross over to the UK mainstream, which is down to the sorry state of major label infrastructure, a lack of understanding of the dancehall market and the fact that most people aren’t interested in buying music anymore. But that’s not to say that the tunes aren’t HITTING like they used to. In past years, tracks like “Summer Time,” “Rum & Red Bull” and “Star Bwoy” would’ve been snapped up by majors, promoted heavily over carnival weekend and undoubtedly charted. That may not be happening today but go to raves throughout the UK, watch the reactions to those tunes and then tell me they’re not hits on a par with past crossover anthems like “Heads High,” “Dude” or “Click Mi Finger.”
Stylo G – “Call Mi A Yardie”
Among the Jamaican hits that have been killing every set for us all summer long, there’s also a UK tune that has been getting consistently huge forwards: Stylo G’s “Call Mi A Yardie.” This is the third time we’ve mentioned that tune here since it dropped in April, which is testament to its power in the dance. Now there’s a video, south London rapper Sneakbo’s “Call Mi A Naija” remix and even a Kardinal Offishall version on the way.
While it’s nice to relive the summer holidays, we’re also looking forward to the incoming autumn (or as you guys call it, fall), stockpiling big tunes like squirrels to keep us going in the lean months ahead. I know we’re gonna need some audio nuggets to accompany the two billion cups of tea that will be drunk over here in the next few months.
Let’s kick it off with some upfront UK bashment, sticking with Stylo G. Check his crazy double time flows on a new version of the classic “Love Punaany Bad” riddim. One of my favorite things about Stylo is how he employs foundation styles while retaining a very up to the time sound.
Stylo G, “Beat Dem Bad”
And while we’re visiting Stylo G, let’s get a bit more in depth and find out more about his Warning Crew and his brother, producer Kody Starr.
Stylo G, “Warning Crew”
Ms. Dynamite had one of the biggest UK underground hits this summer with “Neva Soft” produced by Labrinth, the man behind Tinie Tempah’s “Pass Out.” It frustrates me how many people don’t recognize Dynamite as a dancehall artist. If there was any doubt about this being a bashment tune, Stephen McGregor’s remix removes it. Listen to “Neva Soft (Di Genius Remix)” here.
BBC 1Xtra’s #1 dancehall presenter Robbo Ranx has moved into production this summer with a little help from Wundah. The brilliantly named “Champagne Campaign” riddim dropped recently featuring Wayne Wonder and Delly Ranx alongside UK artists like BabyBoom, G Starr and Lea-Anna. The standout cut for me is Gappy Ranks’s broodingly menacing “War Ah Yuh Gate.” It’s not on YouTube yet but you can hear it on one of our recent Rinse FM shows.
Lea-Anna hooked up with fast-rising Swedish producer Adde (who also made Vybz Kartel’s “Summer Time”) for a big summery single, “Sway.” I love how Adde’s productions are simultaneously very poppy but also have that hardcore dancehall swing.
I haven’t gone back and checked, but I think I’m right in saying that Curtis Lynch gets included every time I sit down to write a Cockney & Yardie column. Definitely the most prolific dancehall producer in the UK, and it’s not a case of quantity overshadowing quality either. His latest release is the “Dancehall Style” riddim which features his crisp trademark drums, bubbling organ and the bassline from the Answer riddim. I’m buzzing off the fact that on this rhythm Curtis has voiced Stush (known for her garage anthem “Dollar Sign”) and Frisco (from grime crew Boy Better Know) as well as his usual dancehall sparring partners Tippa Irie and Mr Williamz. Stush in particular brings something very, very wicked to the riddim, with her attitude-laden storytelling on “Call Mi Phone.” “Let me introduce you to mi friend dial tone.” Indeed. She destroys the video too.
V/A – Dancehall Style video
Earlier this year, we reported that Dolamite and Peckings were working together on a full-length album. No sign of the longplayer yet but the first few collaborations that have been promo’d are very promising. The highlight so far is another piece of brilliant storytelling: “Hustler’s Story.”
Dolamite, “Hustler’s Story”
So the above confirms the current strength of the UK’s dancehall output. What about my January prediction about producers and labels from other genres working with dancehall artists and bashment styles? Grime, funky, dubstep and hiphop in the UK have always been heavily influenced by Jamaica, but there’s certainly been an upswing in collaborations and samples this year. Under his Orange Hill guise, former 1Xtra DJ Ras Kwame has linked up Kano with Busy Signal – and also NYC’s very own Fatman Scoop – for a bass-heavy wining anthem. The interplay between Kano’s and Busy’s bars is wicked, and Kano’s dancehall-esque flow really comes into its own in combination with the versatile Jamaican MC.
Orange Hill, “Wine De Best” f/ Kano, Busy Signal & Fatman Scoop
How many times has the Cutty Ranks “Limb By Limb” hook been sampled and remixed? Probably at least a million (more on that soon! –ed.). Amazingly, Fireworkz have managed to find a new way of using it. Bounty Killer sounds crazy on the grime/dubstep beat, but is actually outshone by Shystie. Like Ms. Dynamite, Shystie is a female London MC who for some reason is not universally acknowledged as a bashment artist. OK so she raps as well, but she KILLS it when she chats in patois. And her biggest hits are all dancehall style, so what’s going on? “Man haffi pull it, pull it.” Real talk.
Fireworkz, “Limb By Limb” medley
From grime to hiphop, but no less Jamaican: Seanie T and Roots Manuva. I’ve been on these two since “Skiver’s Guide” in the late 90s; London hiphop with a dancehall influence. On “Move Ya Shoulder” the JA thing is even more explicit. And the video, courtesy of Shoot The Thrill’s Darren Rahaman, is next level.
Seanie T & Roots Manuva “Move Ya Shoulder”
Rodney P is another UK rapper whose JA links are strong, as we pointed out here a couple months ago. Now he’s teamed with Mighty Moe from UK garage legends Heartless Crew and London-based soca artist Jah Mirikle. That’s a top class trio of London/Caribbean MCs and they’ve re-licked the riddim from Johnny Osbourne’s classic “Truth & Rights.” Which is good. Nice footage from some London demonstrations as well.
Rodney P, Might Moe & Jah Mirikle, “Live Up”
AND finally: bass music specialists Tomb Crew and RackNRuin featuring Illaman with Rubi Dan/Juxci D and Navigator/Serocee respectively. Three generals on each track = thrice as nice. Large up The London Grind for both of these videos too.
Tomb Crew, “Watch This”