Toppa Top ’16: The Best Dancehall Singles of 2016

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December 15, 2016

Words by LargeUp Crew
Illustration by Robin Clare

Dancehall *went mainstream* again in 2016, infiltrating charts and conversations all year long. The resurgence most benefited bashment-savvy pop and hip-hop acts like Rihanna, Drake and Tory Lanez, who rode timely, dancehall-inspired singles to chart and radio ubiquity. Few actual Jamaican productions were afforded similar exposure by industry gatekeepers, even as songs like Drakeโ€™s โ€œControllaโ€ and Siaโ€™s โ€œCheap Thrillsโ€ brought light to featured guests Popcaan and Sean Paul, respectively. However, the boost in visibility fueled an energy thatโ€™s been missing from dancehall in recent years, as artists like Vybz Kartel, Popcaan and Alkaline offered some of their strongest output to date, and competition among top-tier acts ratcheted up.

As is the norm in dancehall, a few songs from previous years made their presence felt in 2016. Songs that appeared on last yearโ€™s list were not included here, even if they were major in 2016 โ€”ย  Dexta Dapsโ€™ โ€œShabba Madda Pot,โ€ a 2015 favorite that picked up even more steam this year being one example. However, a pair of songs that were technically released earlier than 2016 are.

Hereโ€™s our picks for the Top 16 Dancehall Songs of 2016.