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Dancehall's Hot Singles

by Jason Gubbels

Dancehall's Hot Singles

About this playlist

If you've already studied Napster's excellent Dancehall 101 primer, then you're ready to delve a little deeper into the latest sounds blasting from Kingston's hottest (and sometimes literally sweltering) clubs. Jamaica's contemporary superstars operate in a strictly singles-based medium -- while full-length albums are still common, the real story in dancehall is being told in the fast-paced and cutthroat world of two- to three-minute songs. And staying current with dancehall can be a tricky problem, given the genre's demand for release after release after release.

Consider a figure like Vybz Kartel, one of dancehall's most influential artists, who is also sadly emblematic of the violence roiling the music's culture. Sentenced to life in prison in April 2014 on murder charges, Kartel has nevertheless released over 20 individual singles between the month of sentencing and the posting of this playlist (that's three short months). And that kind of output is hardly unique -- scroll through Napster's holdings of dancehall stars like Major Lazer, Black Ryno, Aidonia, and Konshens, and you'll discover a similar wealth (some might say saturation).

Nobody needs to listen to every J Capri single (in fact, part of dancehall's charm is the sheer disposability of it all). But everybody should at least sample some of the bigger hits now and then, and we've assembled a few dozen examples of what Jamaican listeners have been grooving to over the past 12 months or so. It's all pretty standard stuff for the genre: cheesy keyboard effects, sleng teng riddims, and song titles so bawdy they could make a sailor blush. So in the immortal words of Mr. Vegas, "Party Tun Up."

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