Toppa Top ’15: The Best Dancehall Tracks of 2015

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1. Vybz Kartel – Dancehall

As stated above, we could have filled out this whole list with just songs by Vybz Kartel. But “Dancehall” was a cut above anything else by Kartel, or any other dancehall act, this year. Right from the song’s opening intro, a recorded phone conversation with Kartel about his influences which ends with the proclamation, I am dancehall, you could tell it had a special energy. And it delivered, becoming the definitive bashment anthem in Jamaica this year. Kartel’s always been a step ahead of every other dancehall act because he knows his music is bigger than him, that it speaks for others even more than it does for him. That’s never been plainer than on “Dancehall,” a rallying cry for an oft-demonized genre, dancehall’s own equivalent to “Hip Hop” by Dead Prez. Add what was easily the year’s sharpest-looking dancehall video into the equation, and there was really no way to select any song but this one for the toppa top spot. —Jesse Serwer