Toppa Top ’16: The Best Soca Singles of 2016

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15. Machel Montano and Timaya, “Better Than Them
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Jamaican producer Kurt Riley’s Jambe An riddim keeps on thriving. Occupying a sweet spot between dancehall, soca and EDM, the instrumental first dropped in 2014, with a mostly Jamaican cast (Mavado, Khago) along with Guyana’s Timeka Marshall and Trinidad’s Shurwayne Winchester. Out of that came Charly Blacks’ “Gyal You a Party Animal,” one of the biggest crossover *dancehall* tunes of the last few years. Dancehall gets an asterisk here, ‘cause this one is bigger in Panama, Colombia and Trinidad than it is in Jamaica. With “Party Animal” still big in the soca fetes, Machel Montano and Nigeria’s Timaya connected for a new track on the riddim for the 2016 Trinidad Carnival season. The duo, who previously connected on a remix of Timaya’s “Shake Your Bum Bum” in 2014, showed their chemistry once more, but they weren’t the only ones with the same idea; Trini soca artist Pternsky put his own Carnival-focused spin on the Jambe An with “Non Stop.” — Jesse Serwer