Reggae & Dancehall #37: DJ Khaled, Mavado, Etana

The latest news and more...

Your monthly fix…

– – –

Reggae & Dancehall #37: DJ Khaled, Mavado, Etana


Industry insiders have been buzzing for some time that all was not well between Sean Paul and his American record label, Atlantic Records. Late last month, Atlantic Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman put an end to the speculation by confirming that the Grammy-winning artist was “no longer” signed to the label with whom he released two multiplatinum albums and numerous international hit singles. No reason was given, but SP’s last three albums have not performed as strongly as 2002’s ‘Dutty Rock’ and 2005’s ‘The Trinity’. But not to worry, with his Enrique Iglesias collaboration ‘Bailando’ doing crazy numbers in the Latin market and strong demand for his live shows, the Dutty youth should be just fine.

Just over a year after Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley first announced it, the Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise is ready to embark upon its maiden voyage, departing late October from Miami for ports of call in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. On-board entertainment will include Damian and his brothers Stephen and Julian as well as Sean Paul, Shaggy, Bounty Killer, Tarrus Riley, Jah Cure, Busy Signal, Cham, Morgan Heritage, Etana and the Wailing Souls – plus the Marleys’ Ghetto Youths International artists.

If that’s not enough, passengers will also be entertained by top sound systems like King Jammy’s Super Power, Stone Love Movement, Renaissance Disco, Mighty Crown, David Rodigan and Shinehead, who describes the whole cruise as “Rub-a-dub Disneyland”.

– – –

Reggae & Dancehall #37: DJ Khaled, Mavado, Etana


“A lot of people hate me out there,” Mavado sings on ‘Nah Use Dem’, his latest release from Chimney Records where he has a message for all the haters. “Push up the sign: we don’t care.” The beat is light and bouncy but the message is hard as nails: “Man a survivor,” he declares. “Me break your plate if you out fe me share.” So while you hate the Gully Gad will be strapping into his first class seat.

Last summer, Yellowman dropped an epic posse cut called ‘Champion’ that featured an all-star line-up including Shabba Ranks, Bounty Killer, Capleton, Sizzla, Lady G, Burro Banton, Josie Wales, General Trees, Little Twitch and so many more that they really needed a full album to do them all justice. Now there’s an official music video for the track, which could definitely have been a two-hour film – or might spark a three-hour discussion about all the other greats they left out!

– – –

Reggae & Dancehall #37: DJ Khaled, Mavado, Etana


Etana’s fourth album ‘I Rise’, released this month on V.P. Records, sounds like some of her stronger work to date. Opening with a cover of The Wailers rarity ‘Selassie Is The Chapel’, the album goes on to include a collaboration with Ward 21 and the soulful lead single ‘Richest Girl’, the chorus of which provides a fitting showcase for her powerful vocals – a timely reminder of why she’s known as “The Strong One”.

– – –


From the ‘Unfinished Business’ (‘So Special’) to the ‘Smudge’ (‘Party Shot’) to the ‘Gaza World’ (‘Real Badman’), TJ Records has a proven knack for dropping game-changing riddims. So it comes as no surprise that they’ve got hottest juggling in rotation with their ‘Drink Up’ riddim. Though it features voicings from Christopher Martin, I-Octane, Beenie Man, Mavado, Kartel, don’t sleep on rising stars Shifta and Chenelle’s latest duet, ‘You & I’.

– – –

Reggae & Dancehall #37: DJ Khaled, Mavado, Etana


Pulling up to DJ Khaled’s We The Best studios in Miami, of course you turn up onto a huge basketball court with a pit bull staring right at you. Down a corridor with walls of platinum plaques, Khaled is dressed in a red tracksuit and fresh white Jordan Vs inside a room exploding with music.

He’s adding the final touches to his forthcoming album, ‘I’ve Changed A Lot’. The second single, an R&B jam called ‘Hold You Down’ featuring Chris Brown, August Alsina, Future and Jeremih, is already in the top 10 and Khaled seems prepared to push it to the top of the charts by sheer force of will. But there’s another side to Khaled’s creativity. Even when he’s working on records by hip-hop and RnB superstars he takes inspiration from his collection of dancehall dubplates. He explains that his production style has been profoundly influenced by his experience making dubs.

A dub is a hot record that’s personalised for you by the artist. The name of the game is to get the best dub from the biggest artist over the craziest beat that nobody’s heard before. So imagine trying to get Bounty Killer to walk into a studio and record that tune just for you! Yep, it’s rare! It takes more than cash – it takes respect.

Back when Khaled was still a relatively unknown Miami DJ, he used to clash with some of the biggest sounds in Jamaica. If you’re going to show up at a sound clash like Fully Loaded and exalt yourself as a DJ, you better have some good dubs to pull out or the crowd is gonna let you know.

“Bounty is the warlord, so you got to have some Bounty dubplates,”” says Khaled. “When I was young and hungry, Bounty always loaded me up with dubplates and never ask me for a dollar, so anytime I’m on the turn tables I always rep for Bounty Killer… that’s my brother.”

Khaled recently addressed the beef between his old friend Bounty and his former protégé Mavado who’s now signed to We the Best. His proposed solution would be to get them both to make a track together – basically a dubplate on steroids. In fact, he says there’s one more open space on his new album, and he’s willing to do his part to make that happen. “The streets would go crazy for that one,” says Khaled – and he should know.

Check out Khaled’s selection of dubplate specials:

See ya next month!

– – –

Words: Reshma B (online / Twitter)

More Reggae & Dancehall columns

Buy Clash Magazine

Get Clash on your mobile, for free: iPhone / Android

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.