Dancehall music first emerged in Jamaica in the late 1970s, but it wasn't until the late 1980s and early 1990s that this subgenre of reggae truly took off, with quicker rhythms and a significant concentration on instrumentals or "riddims."
LITTLE TWITCH “RESPECT DUE” (1987)
"'Respect Due' was released a few years before dancehall's golden age. The riddim has a powerful bass line with wild phrases over it, and it's more of a one-drop reggae sound. It emphasizes the value of respect, politeness, and honor.
BUJU BANTON “BOGLE” (1992)
Bogle (Gerald Levy) created this wonderful dance that has had a significant impact on our genre. Dance movements are a vital part of dancehall culture, and when Bogle was released, it became a worldwide sensation.
LOUIE CULTURE “GANGA LEE” (1994)
This song was very unique at the time, because most dancehall records were about partying, and it was a conscious song on a party riddim. Louie Culture mentioned desiring to be free of whatever that held you back. Despite the fact that many individuals had no idea what a 'ganga lee' was, they grasped the message. It's about being your own person and charting your own course. It's a really powerful song.
BEENIE MAN “OLD DOG” (1996)
The famous line ‘Old dog like we, we haffi have dem inna twos and threes", became an anthem for men , who enjoyed the life of being or labeled a player. The rhythm/bet also contributes to the song, since females, although being able to relate to the lyrics, gravitated toward the rhythm.
CHAKA DEMUS & PLIERS "MURDER SHE WROTE" (1992)
"Murder She Wrote" was both a testimony to tenacity and the first song to use a new musical structure. The combination of Demus' gruff "toasting" (lyrical chanting in the manner of rapping) and Pliers' melodic vocals on the hook helped the song take flight, similar to rap/R&B duets. This groundbreaking sound synthesis launched a dancehall craze that combined streetwise lines with melodic sing-along tunes.
SISTER NANCY "BAM BAM" (1982)
“Bam Bam” is said to be the most sampled reggae song of all time, but is itself a reinterpretation of two classic Jamaican tunes. It has reappeared in the music of Kanye West, Jay-Z and Beyoncé. In 1998, "Bam Bam" was featured in the Hype Williams film "Belly." In 2014, "Bam Bam" was featured in the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg film The Interview. The song was also featured in EA's skateboarding video game, Skate. In 2022, it was featured in the fourth season (first episode) of Ozark.