When I first heard dancehall reggae as I understood the sound, it was the early 1990s and every club was playing “Murder She Wrote” by Chaka Demus & Pliers. I hit the dance floor every time a DJ played it. Because that was the sound I was used to when I heard dancehall, I associated it with loud shouting vocals and heavy beats. Recently, I’ve was given a lesson on the true history of dancehall and it sounds much different than I realized, much more soulful and mellow with some echo or reverb, I would almost mistake it for roots reggae. When it comes to Jamaican music and musical history, there is so much variety, from rocksteady, ska, roots reggae, dancehall, dub, etc. It really is quite incredible. Forgive me for those who are steeped in this music, as I am just a beginner. I already did a post on ska and another post is in the works about an enlightening documentary I saw called The Legends of Ska. The following songs are just a small sampling, but please add your favorites in the comments. Some other notable artists are Yellowman, Tenor Saw, Brigadier Jerry, Charlie Chaplin, Beenie Man, among many others.
The following song immediately grabbed my attention. If I heard this and wasn’t told, I would have thought it was some type of roots reggae, but this is an original dancehall classic by well-known singer Sister Nancy. “Bam Bam” was released in 1982 and has been featured in movies, video games, and sampled by other artists:
I heard the following song in the clubs and on the radio in the early 1990s, but had no idea it was a dancehall tune. Dawn Penn’s “You Don’t Love Me”:
One of the most famous dancehall artists is none other than Eek-A-Mouse. Here he is with the classic “Wa-Do-Dem”: