Now for some perhaps even more surprising converts to the sounds of dancehall reggae; though obviously, being people who grew up in urban England in a rave scene steeped in Jamaican influence, it’s actually no surprise at all!
Firstly, legendary drum’n’bass DJ/producer Die turns his hand to dub reggae, featuring vocals from jungle MC Fats and upcoming Rasta grime artist Buggsy. With a video shot in St Pauls, home to Bristol’s Jamaican community and annual Caribbean carnival, and released on Shy FX’s Digital Soundboy label, “Peace & Dub” brings together multiple strands of the UK/JA rave/reggae axis.
Secondly, grime producer-turned-MC (and P Diddy collaborator) Skepta throws down a patois-laden hook over a dancehall beat on his new tune, “You Know Me.” Apparently, after playing this track on his show recently, one radio DJ faux-innocently asked, “isn’t Skepta Nigerian?”And it’s true, he doesn’t come from a Caribbean background, so why is he chatting in patois? Because he’s from London and he grew up with jungle, drum’n’bass, garage and grime. And he’s an MC who’s grown out of that lineage where you draw on dancehall influences and people adopt and adapt Jamaican slang without caring whether your family comes from Jamaica, Turkey, west Africa or the east end of London.
I think it’s brilliant that people over here are currently showing an interest in dancehall and Jamaica. It’s what we campaign for at The Heatwave: recognition of the culture’s importance and influence on UK music, and an acknowledgement of contemporary dancehall’s significant position as a powerful musical movement around the world. But I find it problematic how the industry moves in cycles, disregarding the genre one day and worshiping it the next. Or exploiting Jamaica’s historical cultural capital while often failing to support the people who are continuing to produce incredible music today and who provide the next generation with style, sounds and slang.
So let’s remember that, as 2012 gets underway, and let’s salute the artists who have been committed to dancehall for years, before any of the current attention was being offered. What are they up to at the moment?