Monthly round up...

A look back at the year in Reggae and Dancehall...

Mavado had a real good year- incl getting his US visa back and signing to a hip hop label (DJ Khaled's 'We The Best Music Group’).

Vybz Kartel's reported jail shootout while in custody on murder charges caused twitter frenzy... just goes to show what a headline act he is even in jail, no?!?

Talking of jail and the threat of it, "Free Buju" was the phrase on the lips of us all this year he was sentenced to ten years. The campaign for his release continues. Also this year he bagged a Grammy for ‘best reggae album’. Just released is his "Set up the Mic".

Buju Banton - Set Up The Mic

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Reggae4Japan held in NYC this summer in aid of the Japanese Tsunami relief bonded Jamaica and Japan in a night of reggae magic. Freddie McGregor, Mr Vegas, Tanya Stephens, Damien Marley, Nas, Japanese acts Mighty Crown and many more showed reggae's place in Japan's heart and Japan's place in Jamaica's. The night raised a whopping $25,000.

Di Teacha released his album "Kingston Story" produced by Brooklyn’s Dre Skull. Fave track (apparently his too) "Half on a Baby" – somehow Kartel manages to turn that most wholesome thought, bringing a new life into this world, into - a sex song? Not gonna over think it, it works! "Whine yuh waist like it a love song… you ah Pebbles mi a Bamm Bamm’’.

Island badgyal Cecile dropped her new album "Jamiacanization" in which she shows off her singing voice to contrast her deejay style. There was a softer Cecile on tracks like "Sweetness'', but her usual strut on "Up on the Dancefloor".

Cecile - Up On The Dancefloor

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On the UK front Stylo G put out a grime cum dancehall cum everyting Jamaica and Britain EP "Call me a Yardi" that hit the streets this summer with his message straight up "We Smoke Weed We na Sniff Charlie". The boy from South London also has some real fashion sense trust me.

Stephen di Genius McGregor's "Pepper" riddim made it big, voiced by artists like Mavado in the big hit "Pepper" plus Shabba Ranks' "Non a Dem". The big ship family did some big sailing this year, including Capt. Freddie celebrating fifty years in the business and Chino releasing his new album.

The "Category 5" riddim by Daseca also created a storm – their new "Knockings" riddim released this month features voicings from Daseca's own Serani himself ("Evil Heart"), Laden ("You and I") as well as brothers Stephen & Chino McGregor ("Lowe Wi").

Plus, talking of brothers, there were great releases from the Marleys –Stephen gave us "No Cigarette Smoking in my Room" and JR Gong kept it 100% on "Wanted".

Other big tracks include Chris Martin "Cheaters prayer", Collie Buddz "Too Watchy" and Tarrus Riley’s summer ting "Summer Fling".

The year saw some great dancehall, reggae and hip hop collaborations following on the success of "Like I see it" (Jah Cure, Rick Ross & Mavado) including "Welcome to my Hood" remix (ft Mavado) and, on the female front, "Fun" (Spice & Missy Elliot).

Jah Cure showed what he could deliver on this side of the Atlantic. This year he headlined both the Amsterdam and the Rotterdam reggae festivals - the latter because Vybz Kartel wasn't able to (visa restriction) but I can tell you that the crowd had no issues with that whatsoever! It seems like Cure has it on point with the Dutch. He told me "expect the best that Cure ever do before because mi try right now to outdo every great record I ever done before so mi can have a good catalogue building up as a young man…. I’m dealing with quality over quantity". At least his new album "World Cry’’ should be worth the wait. It's still awaiting release.

New discoveries this year were Dutch reggae band PUNKY DONCH (not only for their name - sorry guys I will definitely retire the donkey punch joke as of this last mention) – let me just say these guys know how to reggae in Amsterdam. And on the dancehall front from the other side of the world was adorable as ever Japanese band FIRE BALL. My Japanese is not so up to speed so catching every Japanese lyric dancehall style is slightly challenging. But they sound amazing.

I-OCTANE has made a big impression this year. His EP "Straight from the Heart" is just released and he's got an album in the pipeline "Crying to the Nation" in early 2012.

Shabba Ranks is back on fire, headlining at two of 2011's major festivals, the excellent Best of the Best in Miami and Japan’s Reggae Sai.

But the artist to have pulled it out the bag for sure is - if you haven’t guessed already - MAVADO. The Gully Gad excelled in 2011. Pushing the boundaries of dancehall he worked his star bwoy magic across the board, from keeping the girls' attention with "Delilah" and featuring on hit floorfiller "One by One" (not to mention the frenzy when he and Laza performed it live on the Sumfest stage this summer) to collaborating on some big hip hop tracks. He's had big successes with Chipmunk "Every Gal", Ace hood "Emergency" and his recent with Akon "Survivor", and as I mentioned signed up with DJ Khaled's camp! This is an artist that has been working real hard - speaking with him last year he said his goal was hit after hit. I'm sure his manager is in major demand right now.

Mavado - Don't Wanna Be A Memory

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As JIMMY CLIFF said while launching his new EP "Sacred Fire" in NYC earlier this month, his soft voice filling the room, "there's something we all have in common, and that we all need, it's LOVE".

On that note Happy Christmas & see ya in the New Year!

Words by Reshma B

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