Words by Gabriel Heatwave
Where to start this month? How about with the artist who is leading the way for UK bashment as we approach 2012: Stylo G.
Stylo joined The Heatwave on our radio show last month to talk about moving from Jamaica to London as a teenager, his father (dancehall deejay Poison Chang) and the links between dancehall and UK rave music. He performed hits like “Swagga Dem” and “Bank Robber” live in the studio before jumping on riddims as diverse as ’80s classic Stalag and grime anthem “Ice Rink.” And you get to hear the official Kardinal Offishall remix of Stylo’s biggest hit, “Call Mi A Yardie.”
Obviously by now you’re convinced that Stylo is the new Glamma Kid/Top Cat/Papa Levi-level don in the UK dancehall scene. No? Well then, we add weight to the argument with three more big tunes from Stylo waiting for you further down this page.
Before we get into all the brand new tunes goodness, a quick reminder that dancehall is blowing up on this side of the pond. Mixmag, an old school Ibiza/superstar DJ/house magazine, is picking up on it, running a big feature this month about how bashment is “[taking over UK clubland].” Witness scenes like this on a Tuesday night in the north of England:
There are a number of big JA tunes bubbling in raves around the country and causing more than their fair share of mayhem. Notably, Mavado’s “Settle Down,” Mr Vegas’s “Bruk It Down” and Cham’s “Wine” are making serious demands of DJs’ rewind fingers. (Do you think you can get repetitive strain injury from wheeling tunes too much?)
And Popcaan has a quartet of hits making everyone go nuts, girls especially: “Only Man She Want,” “Clean,” “Ravin” and now “Party Shot” aka “Ravin part 2.” Going out to dance to music with people you like who like the music and the dancing as much as you do is well fun. And it’s what so much of this music is for, so it’s always good to have songs about that whole thing. “Dem call mi di ravin king”: good name, Popcaan. It’s looking increasingly likely he is gonna be stepping up to fill the boots of his Gaza mentor. Not that Vybz Kartel’s incarceration has stopped his music from blaring out of car stereos, club speakers and cell phones all across the land. Or from being remixed in a UK club style, as on Mosca’s sweet retro house version of “Half On A Baby.”
Good to remind ourselves that there are a lot of talented musicians in Jamaica but let’s jump across the Atlantic again for some more British bashment, shall we?
I didn’t hear this when it came out in June but Khalia’s version of Vybz Kartel’s huge hit “Summer Time”—where she pitches it up an octave and relocates it in London—is a must listen even though it’s getting dark at 4pm these days and “summer” is almost a curse word. More appropriate for the season is Stylo G’s “Winter Swag,” where he chats about gloves and suchlike, pretty much forcing you to say ‘brrrr’, rub your hands together and wish you were near an open fire.
Perhaps less aptly named is the BBQ riddim from Adde, the Swedish producer behind “Summer Time,” featuring Stylo G again. I can’t say I remember ever having witnessed a barbecue in the winter, but you can definitely keep warm by skanking out to the tunes by Stylo and Lea-Anna (not to mention Mr Vegas, Gyptian and Million Stylez) on the riddim.
“Yu Go” is another multinational riddim: produced by a Bosnian, released on a German label and featuring vocalists from Jamaica, USA, Sweden and the UK. More proof that dancehall is a worldwide thing right now. It’s a Cockney & Yardie thing so we’re all about Serocee’s cut here. Strictly speaking, Serocee is a Brummie from Birmingham rather than a cockney but I’ve heard his cockney accent and it’s a vibe, so we’re good still.
International reggae star Gappy Ranks just dropped a sick weed tune on Wundah’s super sparse snare-snapping “Spot Check” riddim called “Da Herbs Deh,” with one of the baddest intros I’ve heard in a while: I love the way Gappy personifies himself as “a Amsterdam.” And his vocal style is fully unique, veering between singing, deejaying and almost rapping.
Guess who else is on this riddim? Yep, Stylo G. I’m almost bored of writing his name this month; time for him to get an alias or two so I can switch between them! I challenge you not to get “none a dem can’t go round my style, my style” stuck in your head after a couple of listens of “My Style.”
On “Streets So Warm”, BBC Radio 1’s Toddla T teamed up with dubstep superproducer Skream and singjay Wayne Marshall for an anthemic, conscious lyric over a bleepy, squelchy, percussive rhythm track that rolls on unstoppably. It’s all perfectly complemented by Rollo Jackson’s video:
Rollo was also the man directing the cameras at our Showtime live show back in June showcasing the cream of the UK dancehall/rave scene: from Asher Senator to Stylo G via General Levy, Glamma Kid, Skibadee and Wiley. And another TEN big artists. His feature film cutting up live footage and in-depth interviews with the key characters is due out on DVD in mid-December. Sounds like a good stocking filler.
Two of the artists we really wanted to book for Showtime but who couldn’t make the date were Navigator and Durrty Goodz: they’ll definitely be on the line up next time. Navigator is a mythic figure in UK soundsystem culture: he learned his craft with the Ragga Twins on the seminal Unity Sound in the 80s before becoming one of the top 90s jungle MCs. Read all about what made him want to be an MC, his soundsystem apprenticeship, the explosion of UK rave and more in a deep two part interview he did with Trust In Wax.
Ever since I heard Durrty Goodz with a hype Ward 21-style flow on the amazing “Pum Pum” riddim I’ve thought of him as a dancehall MC. Obviously he excels on grime and kills it over hip hop, but with a flow like his he can’t not voice dancehall! So I was excited when he got in touch earlier this year and asked me to send him a bunch of foundation dancehall riddims. They were for a performance he was doing at a Smiley Culture tribute concert, but little did I know he was going to record on them, too. The results are staggering. I don’t want to say too much about these versions of “Sleng Teng” and “Golden Hen”: just sit back and soak up the sounds. Crazy fast chat, and flow with echoes of Saxon sound and Eski Dance. Stories set in grime’s east London heartlands. Immense.