Reggae & Dancehall #27

December’s fix, with Lady Saw and RDX…

Clash’s resident expert on these things, Reshma B, is doing this so that you don’t have to. So read, learn, listen… and enjoy.

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After being held in custody for two years, Vybz Kartel’s trial finally began late in November with Adidja Palmer and four co-defendants accused of the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, allegedly beaten to death over the loss of a firearm that prosecutors say belonged to Kartel. So far Williams’ body has not been found and the prosecution has not presented any eyewitnesses or the video evidence that police reportedly had. Hopes for his release are running high. A rumour that Di Teacha had been freed caused a huge crowd of school-age youths to gather outside the courthouse, and the promoters of the Boxing Day stage show Sting (more on that, later) have released a statement that if he gets out of jail he will be on the bill.

Tessanne Chin continues to blast her way through America’s version of The Voice, shown on the NBC TV network. After being encouraged to try out for the show by Shaggy, she went on to reach the final five, becoming something of a national hero in Jamaica. Even Usain Bolt came out to support her for one episode. She has performed Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Many Rivers To Cross’ and No Doubt’s ‘Underneath It All’, nailing Lady Saw’s DJ verse.

Reggae legend Junior Murvin, the man who sang ‘Police And Thieves’, died in Jamaica at the age of 67. Born Murvin Smith, he got his start singing in resorts around Port Antonio before making the move to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perrys Black Ark studio. Though he never had another hit as big as ‘Police And Thieves’, which landed him on Top Of The Pops, his ‘Badman Posse’ album with UK producer Mikey Dread is still considered a classic by roots aficionados.

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The fans have been requesting it for a while now, so A$AP Ferg finally went ahead and dropped a remix to ‘Shabba Ranks’ featuring the big dutty stinkin’ Dancehall Emperor himself. Just to keep it extra, extra raw, they invited Busta Rhymes and Migos to jump in the mix too: testosterone in da building! “Eight gold rings like I’m Shabba Shabba Ranks…” Check out A$AP Ferg discussing the Shabba tune, and the remix:

Speaking of remixes, Wayne Marshall’s posse cut ‘Go Hard’ has been remixed into ‘Go Harder’, which dropped last month as part of his ‘Tru Colors’ EP. The “next episode in the saga” boasts a killer collaboration between Marsheezy, Waka Flocka, Ace Hood, and Cham.

It’s been a while now that people have been chatting about Lady Saw (pictured) leaving the dancehall game. She has mentioned making the switch to gospel music on more than one occasion. But late last month she dropped a blazing track called ‘Lef Dancehall’ to clear up any doubt as to where she stands on the question. As far as Muma Saw is concerned, there ain’t no dancehall if she’s not in it. The Queen bigs up the ladies who came in before her, but as for the crown it looks like she won’t be passing that on any time soon: “You got to earn respect.”

If you Google Konshens the kind of stuff that you'll find is titles like “gyal” “bubble” and “sumn”, so it’s only right that his latest tune is titled ‘Sumn Deh’. He’s got a gift for getting the girls to free up themselves and buss some moves – and he’s never been more convincing than on this track. You only live once, so “Bruk out bruck out bruck out, Fling out fling out fling out, Dash out dash out dash out – all of the sumn deh”. Whether it’s YOLO or YALA, this song is definitely one for seizing the moment.

Konshens also teamed up with man of the moment Fuse ODG for the ‘Million Pound Girl’ remix. The collaboration came after the two kept meeting each other at gigs they were booked on around the world.  With the official track making the Radio 1 playlist this month, check out the remix if you’re not up on it yet:

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Nothing but real talk on Overstand Entertainment’s ‘Militancy Riddim’, a hard-hitting one-drop track that features Jah Cure’s ‘Territory’ and Protoje’s ‘Resist Not Evil’ (listen below).

Ancient Records’ ‘Taboo Riddim’ may be the most scandalous set of tunes to hit the street in recent years. Tony Matterhorn and Sas Frass join forces on the aptly named ‘Super Freak’ and Aidonia’s ‘The Best’ leaves nothing to the imagination. Parental advice comes strongly recommended.

Madd Squad’s ‘Coconut Water Riddim’ is a nice mid-tempo juggling with standout tracks like Delly Ranks’ ‘Shot Caller’ and Taranchyla’s ‘Laugh At Badmind’.

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Dancehall veteran Courtney Melody became a legend with songs like ‘Ninja Me Ninja’ and ‘Modern Girl’, but we haven’t heard much from him lately. So it’s a pleasant surprise to see him back with a full album, ‘In This Town’ on the VP label. Just check out the title track and there’s no doubt that he’s still got that melodic touch.

If it’s December then it must be time for ‘Strictly The Best’, VP Records’ tried-and-true round up of the year’s hottest tracks. In 2013 they’re up to volumes 48 and 49, with the first disc (as usual) focusing on singers like Jah Bouks, Tessanne Chin, Etana and Morgan Heritage and the other hardcore dancehall cuts by the likes of Sean Paul, Mr Vegas, QQ (‘One Drop’, below) and Macka Diamond.

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of Sting – Jamaica’s legendary reggae and dancehall show, held each year on Boxing Day. It’s always an all-star line up and this year is no exception. Headliners include the real Don Dada Super Cat, making his first appearance at Sting since his legendary clash with Ninjaman in 1991, which drew the biggest crowd in Jamaican history.

Mavado will also be returning to Sting, for the first time since his epic clashes with Vybz Kartel, and if Di Teacha gets free in time we might witness history in the making as Gaza and Gully unite. There’s also an appearance from 2 Chainz, who will be representing for the hip-hop massive. In other words, you don’t want to miss this show at all.

But if you can’t make it to Kingston this month, you can still catch all the action on pay-per-view television or catch it online via Livestream. All the details can be found at the official website. If you know about Sting then you know that it’s all about those lyrical clashes – that nail-biting experience of how, who and if your favourite acts are going to win their battles. Last year’s highly anticipated clash between Spice and Macka Diamond didn’t quite go off as planned, but Busy Signal’s triumphant homecoming performance made it an unforgettable night. Check out the hothead straight off the stage:

On the UK front, David Rodigan’s Xmas Ram Jam is going to be on and poppin’ at Vauxhall’s Fire on the 20th December. Guests include dancehall yardie Stylo G along with Shy FX, Congo Natty and a whole heap of UK sounds like Rootkal, Venum Sound and Basslaced’s own Jack Swift. Info/tickets.

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Dancehall duo RDX hit London for their first-ever UK performance last month. They say that first impressions are the most important, so it’s safe to say that London now knows you can’t come to an RDX show unless you're ready to get involved!

The dancehall duo calls themselves the Party Gods, and that’s what they brought to Elephant & Castle's Coronet. Of course they turned up fashionably late – with the doors open and everybody in the building by 8pm they didn’t touch the stage until after 1am, but there was no bored person in sight. The night had brought out all the dancing crews in town who showed off their moves on the floor providing no lack of entertainment to the VIP balcony guests – we’re talking wine, kotch, split, 6.30, daggering, headtop, all that and more! This was not a night for the faint-hearted.

There’s a reason why RDX describe their up-tempo music as “dancehall aerobics” – they have a real emphasis on dancers. Renegade and Delomar seem to appreciate the fact that when they first came onto the scene it was the dancers who repped for them. So they firmly believe that “without dancers there would be no dancehall”.

Once they hit the stage the real workout had begun. Those who had real guts joined the duo on stage to have their moves judged by the crowd. It didn’t matter if you were a girl or a boy, fluffy or skinny – everyone was invited. But it’s not only guts and skills you need to get up on stage at an RDX show – you need to be on top of your entire game. It’s about knowing the mood of the tune and reflecting that in your dance moves. And before any of that can even take place, you have to get past the team first, and them “nah easy” at all. One strict piece of advice from RDX: NO turning up with shit hairstyles!

The tag team may be the life of the party, but they also know the value of real good music. This summer the duo released the song ‘Free Worlboss’ in support of Vybz Kartel. Hear what they have to say about his trial and what they think of Kartel represents in the biz – whether in or out of jail. The Party Gods also took a moment to compare LDN dancers to their JA counterparts, and broke down the basic skills needed to land a spot in an RDX video.

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See ya next month!

Words: Reshma B (Online / Twitter)

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