Words by Jesse Serwer—
The year was 2003, and dancehall was at its peak, attaining unprecedented infiltration of the U.S. and other global markets. Naturally, given the long-running connection and similarities between dancehall and rap, the hip-hop world wanted a piece of the action, and tracks featuring big-name rappers ‘longside the day’s top dancehall deejays proliferated. One major result of this phenomenon was Def Jam’s Def Jamaica project, featuring the Meth and Red x Damian Marley collab “Lyrical. 44,” among other memorable tunes.
Though dancehall rap make perfect sense together, the compilation was also marked by some truly unlikely collaborations that, on paper, just sound bizarre today. Tanto Metro and Devonte with Joe Budden? Scarface and T.O.K.? It was also the album that introduced Vybz Kartel in the U.S. with a young Worl’ Boss appearing on two tracks, including a lttle-known collaboration with Jay-Z, on the remix to Pharrell’s “Frontin.”
One of the most successful tracks on the LP paired Wayne Wonder with rappers Capone n Noreaga (aka CNN) and Mr. Lexx, then still known as Lexxus. The track was chosen as one of the album’s singles, with Capone and NORE heading down to Kingston to link up with Wayne and Lexx in various garrison scenes. Making cameo appearances were Kingston’s downtown market, and lots of livestock.
To promote Def Jamaica at the time, Def Jam enlisted the help of Cipha Sounds and LargeUp family Max Glazer of Federation Sound for a promo mix featuring the album’s tracks. As part of a year-long 15th anniversary celebration, in which Federation have been making their classic mixes available on the Internet for the first time, they’ve recently posted the mix to Soundcloud, which you can hear below.
This of course brings us to tonight’s big event: The Federation Sound 15th Anniversary party in Miami presented by LargeUp featuring Wayne Wonder, alongside Baby Cham and Chi Ching Ching and a whole bunch of special guests. The history between Federation and Wayne is deep, so you dun know big tings haffi gwaan.