Toppa Top 10: The Best Dancehall Albums

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2.Super Cat, Don Dada (1992)

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Though in some ways less consistent than Super Cat’s ’80s-era Jamaican LPs his major label adventure Don Dada ranks among the classics of the genre. Not only did this set of songs establish Cat’s musical persona to the world, in many ways it did so for dancehall as well. The Puffy Combs and Salaam Remi-produced experiments with hiphop, which powered the album’s radio and video presence are landmarks on a number of scores (first appearance of the Notorious B.I.G., first usage of the term ‘bling, bling’, etc.) but also established a whole new sub-genre of badman talk over raw drum breaks. On the other end of the spectrum, “Nuff Man A Dead,” “Coke Don” and “Oh It’s You” are as menacingly melodic as any of Cat’s early reggae 45s. Forming a bridge between the two extremes are songs crafted with Heavy D’s input (“Big & Ready”; “Dem No Worry We”)–in some ways the most satisfying on the album. What truly unites the diverse riddims on Don Dada, however, is Cat’s unstoppable flow. An unlikely formula for crossover success—a lexicon of street cred (“Kingston, mi dere when Massop get shot”) impenetrable to non-Jamaicans, a relentless, never-take-a-breath chat that hardly left room for conventional hooks—proved to be the most enduring blueprint for dancehall hit making.

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