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Babylon Burning: Saturday, 5 January 2019

Artist | Track/Song Name | Album Title | Label/Distributor | Comments

JESSE I’S 2018 YEAR IN REVIEW

As always, these lists reflect my personal taste, while also taking into account the response these songs received at dances locally and around the world. I generally avoid including more than one song on the same riddim, though I have mentioned others where it was particularly difficult to choose, or where you would virtually never play one without also playing the other. Some songs from the previous year often sneak into the countdown – slow burners that took a while to catch on, became popular when a music video was released some time after the song itself, or were simply more popular this year than last.

The songs were aired in reverse order, counting down from #20 to #1, with reggae in the first hour, and dancehall in the second.

BEST OF 2018 REGGAE

To be brutally honest, I felt reggae music was a little underwhelming in 2018. Apart from the first 6 or so entries on the list, there was not much separating things this year - plenty of good songs, but not so many really great songs or anthems that would get played at every dance. Interestingly, Damian Marley - one of the biggest names in contemporary reggae music - didn’t have a single entry in my top 20 this year, and Chronixx only made the list with combination tunes. I Octane’s “Weh Di Fire Gone” was an easy choice for my #1 spot, being both a personal favourite, and a huge hit (one of the only true reggae songs I heard played in prime-time at serious dancehall parties in Jamaica this year). The 18-year-old new sensation Koffee was the success story of the year, as she followed up last year’s hit “Burning” with another smash “Raggamuffin” at the start of the year, and became one of the most talked-about new artists in reggae music on the strength of only two releases (her name well and truly made at the end of the year with the phenomenal dancehall tune “Toast”). I was very happy to include a release from local Melbourne producer Monkey Marc and his huge Yaad N Abraad riddim at number 4 - it was great to see Marc working with top young artists like Dre Island and Iba Mahr, and getting the best out of them. At number 5, the controversial “Black Hypocrisy” from dancehall queen Spice, a song that made a huge impact with a very clever social media campaign, but backed it up with first-class production and powerful lyrics highlighting “colourism” in Jamaican society.

1) I OCTANE – Weh Di Fire Gone (Destiny riddim: Young Pow)
BLACK AM I - Fire Burning (Destiny riddim: Young Pow)
2) CHRONIXX & CAPLETON – Help The Weak (Zincfence Records)
3) KOFFEE – Raggamuffin (Frankie Music)
4) DRE ISLAND – Yaad N Abraad (Yaad N Abraad riddim: Monkey Marc)
IBA MAHR – Come Out (Yaad N Abraad riddim: Monkey Marc)
5) SPICE – Black Hypocrisy (Spice Official Ent)
6) TARRUS RILEY – Ah Me And Jah (Episodes riddim: Yellow Moon)
I OCTANE – Why Should I (Episodes riddim: Yellow Moon)
7) PROTOJE & CHRONIXX – No Guarantee (In.Digg.Nation Collective)
8) TARRUS RILEY – Guess Who (Canon, Juke Boxx, Taxi)
9) SHANE O – Have Mercy (Love Vibration riddim: Upsetta Records & Loud City)
10) EESAH – Roots Man (Masterpiece: Brilliant. Intelligent. Genius)
11) SAMORY I – Call On Jah (Evidence Music)
12) ANTHONY B – Can’t Go Round (Marshall Neeko remix: Idler’s Corner)
13) PRESSURE BUSSPIPE – Burn Dem Flat (New Kingston riddim: Cyclone Music Group)
14) PROTOJE – A Matter Of Time (A Matter Of Time: Indiggnation Collective)
15) ALBOROSIE & CHRONIXX – Contradiction (Unbreakable: Shengen Ent)
16) HIKALIBA – Rastafari Yes (Fire Avenue riddim: Young Veterans)
PRESSURE – Nah Stop (Fire Avenue riddim: Young Veterans)
17) I OCTANE – Nothing Greater (History No Mystery riddim: Penthouse)
EXCO LEVI – Trouble (History No Mystery riddim: Penthouse)
SHUGA – Nah Stop Try (History No Mystery riddim: Penthouse)
18) NASS – Carpenter (Silk 4our Music Group)
19) KABAKA PYRAMID & PRESSURE BUSSPIPE – Make Way (Kontraband: Bebble Rock & Ghetto Youths International)
20) CAPLETON & KABAKA PYRAMID – Hold Up Your Arms (State of Emergency riddim: Maximum Sound)

REGGAE HONORABLE MENTIONS:

AKAE BEKA – Felt Love Surely (Perfect Storm riddim: I Grade)
AKAE BEKA – Power of the Trinity (Nurtured Frequency: Haze St Studios)
AKAE BEKA – To and From (Nurtured Frequency: Haze St Studios)
BERES HAMMOND – I’m Alive (VP Records)
BERES HAMMOND - Invitation To Downtown (Nice and Ruff riddim: Heavy Beat)
BITTY McLEAN – Is That Your Reward (Love Restart: Taxi, Tabou 1, Silent River)
BLACK AM I – Wants and Needs (Ghetto Youths International)
BLACK UHURU & AGENT SASCO – Stronger
BOBBY HUSTLE – Reggae Party (Wicked Vybz)
BUGLE – Born A Winner (High Rise riddim: Synthdicate)
CHRISTOPHER MARTIN – Bun Fi Bun (Twilight riddim: Maximum Sound)
DANNY I – Just To Live (Perfect Storm riddim: I Grade)
DEADLY HUNTA & JAH TUNG – Bed Of Roses (Shackled riddim: Yard 127)
DENNIS BROWN & DAMIAN MARLEY – Can’t Keep (King Jammy Presents: Dennis Brown Tracks of Life: VP & Jammys)
DUANE STEPHENSON – Nah Bun Dung (Tads)
EESAH – Marijuana (Masterpiece: BIG)
EESAH – Tenement Yard (Masterpiece: Brilliant. Intelligent. Genius)
FANTAN MOJAH & LUTAN FYAH – Word Sound and Power (Unity riddim: May.B.Unity)
FIKIR AMLAK & BRIZION – Eastern Star (Akashic Records)
GAPPY RANKS – Don Gargon (Family Buss riddim: Unity Sound Worldwide)
GROUNDATION – Fossil Fuels (The Next Generation: Baco Records)
JAH9 – Heaven (Ready Fi Di Feeling) (VP Records)
JESSE ROYAL & CHARLY BLACK – Herbalist Party (Wizzle riddim: TJ Records)
JOSHUA HALES & BRIZION – Amerikkka Tha Terrorist (Passing Through: Lumosapien
JOSHUA HALES & BRIZION – Diamonds (Passing Through: Lumosapien Records)
JOSHUA HALES & BRIZION – Holographic (Passing Through: Lumosapien Records)
KRAIGGI BADART & QRAIG – Where Is The Love (Dub Wi Love riddim: BaDArt Muzic)Records)
KABAKA PYRAMID – Reggae Music (Kontraband: Bebble Rock & Ghetto Youths Music)
KING MAS – Protect Your Energy (Roots Stepper riddim: Lion Twin Studio)
KONSHENS – Rocking In The Dance (Jambian Music)
KRANIUM – My Choice (Stay Cool riddim: CR203)
LILA IKE – Second Chance (In.Digg.Nation Collective)
LINVAL THOMPSON – Fussing and Fighting (Med Tone)
LUCIANO & NATTY KING – Why Sacrifice (Unity riddim: May.B.Unity)
MARCUS GAD & TRIBE – All Together (Chanting: Natural Productions) *2017
MARCUS GAD & TRIBE – Chanting (Chanting: Natural Productions) *2017
MARCUS GAD & TRIBE – Evil Ways (Chanting: Natural Productions) *2017
MARCUS GAD & TRIBE – The Valley (Chanting: Natural Productions) *2017
MARCUS GAD & TRIBE – Walk A Talk (Chanting: Natural Productions) *2017
MO KALAMITY w SLY & ROBBIE – Throw Down Your Guns (One Love Vibration: Sofia Thea Records)
NAOMI COWAN – Paradise Plum (VPal)
NARAM & EARL CUNNINGHAM - War In The City (Red Robin)
NARAM & JUNIOR CAT - Stand Tall Ghetto Youth (Red Robin)
NARAM & LADY ANN - Jealous Man (Red Robin)
NARAM & MIDNIGHT RIDERS - Jealous Woman (Red Robin)
NATURAL BLACK – Brand New Song (Sings New Songs: Jammys)
NATURAL BLACK – Have To Rearrange (Sings New Songs: Jammys)
NATURAL BLACK – Jah Jah Bless (Sings New Songs: Jammys)
PROTOJE – Bout Noon (In.Digg.Nation Collective)
PROTOJE – Lessons (A Matter Of Time: Indiggnation Collective)
PROTOJE – Mind Of A King (A Matter Of Time: Indiggnation Collective)
QUEEN IFRICA – Black Woman (VP Records)
RAFEELYA – Coming Of The Father (Life and Times: Stingray)
RAGING FYAH – Rebel (Rebel: Dub Rockers)
RASTA UNITY – Freedom and Salvation (Rasta Unity)
REEMAH – Breaking News (Breaking News: Feel Line Records)
REEMAH – Far Away (Breaking News: Feel Line Records)
REEMAH – May Day (Breaking News: Feel Line Records)
REEMAH – Warn Dem (Breaking News: Feel Line Records)
ROBERT DALLAS – Bearer Of Bad News (Med Tone)
ROMAIN VIRGO – Hold On (Lovesick: VP Jamaica)
SHUGA – Talk About (Old King Cole riddim: Tads)
THE EXPANDERS – Top Shelf (Top Shelf riddim: Walshy Fire)

BEST OF 2018 DANCEHALL

For most of the last decade, dancehall has been all about Vybz Kartel. I felt like things opened up a bit in 2018 though, as Kartel’s stranglehold on the genre seemed to loosen somewhat. Popcaan had a huge year, with several inescapable hits, while Alkaline was as consistently good as he has been in recent years. When the smoke cleared though, it was Busy Signal at number one on my countdown, with “Stay So” getting huge forwards all though the year, despite originally coming out late in 2017. It was a good year for new blood in dancehall, with Rygin King (and to a lesser extent Teejay) coming out of Montego Bay with a serious impact, and Govana stepping out of Aidonia’s shadow as a big name in his own right. Shane O might sound like a new name to some, but those who know dancehall history would remember him from the hit “Lightning Flash” on the Applause riddim in 2004, voiced when he was just a young schoolboy. Shane made a huge return in 2018, coming back with a more mature delivery, and a string of dancehall anthems. Though not a new artist, this was definitely a breakthrough year for Masicka, who cracked my top 20 with two songs, and a few more in my honourable mentions. The most notable absence from my top 20 is Aidonia, who is clearly one of the biggest artists in contemporary dancehall, but didn’t have any songs like 2017’s “Yeah Yeah” that got played in every dance (“Big Baller” came on strong towards the end of the year, but a bit too late to have as much impact as the other songs on the list).

1) BUSY SIGNAL – Stay So (Warriors Musick) *2017
2) POPCAAN – Bullet Proof (Breakthrough riddim: Markus Records)
KRANIUM - Last Night (Breakthrough riddim: Markus Records)
3) POPCAAN - Family (Cotton Swab riddim: Pure Music) *2017
4) ALKALINE - Pick Unuh Side (Rice Grain riddim: Chimney)
CHI CHING CHING - Rice and Peas (Rice Grain riddim: Chimney)
5) RYGIN KING – Tuff (Billion Music Group)
6) VYBZ KARTEL - Do It (Do It riddim: Good Good Productions)
GOVANA - One N Move (Do It riddim: Good Good Productions)
I OCTANE - Oh No (Do It riddim: Good Good Productions)
7) ALKALINE – Juggernaught (Johnny Wonder & Adde Instrumentals)
8) KOFFEE – Toast (Columbia)
9) MASICKA - They Don’t Know (Genahsyde Records)
10) ALKALINE – Load Up (Levels riddim: Yellow Moon)
11) VYBZ KARTEL – Under Water (Zinc Roof riddim: TJ Records)
11) SPICE – Under Fire (Zinc Roof riddim: TJ Records)
12) SHANE O – Take It Tell Me (Countree Hype Entertainment)
13) SHANE O - Mill Fi Share (Kswizz) *2017
14) GOVANA – Champ (Big Zim Records)
15) POPCAAN – Inviolable (Markus Records & Unruly Entertainment)
16) MASICKA – Greatness (Genahsyde Records & Lamwav)
17) MAVADO – Big Like Jesus (CR203)
18) POPCAAN – Silence (Mixpak Records)
19) ALKALINE – Yaadie Fiesta (Netflixxx riddim: DJ Frass)
KRANIUM – Hustler’s Anthem (Netflixxx riddim: DJ Frass)
20) RYGIN KING - Legacy (Lee Milla)

DANCEHALL HONORABLE MENTIONS:

AIDONIA - Big Baller (Benzema) (4th Genna & Ancient Records)
AIDONIA - Scotch Bonnet (4th Genna & Magnum Sound)
AIDONIA & GOVANA - Breeze (4th Genna & JOP) *2017
ALKALINE - Dutty Badmind (Money Order riddim: Armzhouse)
ALKALINE – Fine Whine (Black Shadow)
ALKALINE - Perfect (DJ Frass)
ALKALINE - Richer and Richer (DJ Frass)
BEENIE MAN - Party Good (Young Blood)
BUSY SIGNAL – Dolla Van (Turf Music)
BUSY SIGNAL - One Way (White Gad Records)
BUSY SIGNAL - Simple BBC Ting (Turf Music)
BUSY SIGNAL - T-Shirt Weather (Turf Music)
DIGITAL SHAM - Is This Love (Hype Dreams Records)
DING DONG - Flairy (Romeich)
GAPPY RANKS - Designer Clothes (Tuch Point Music)
GAPPY RANKS - My Scheme (HCMH Presents)
GOVANA - Bake Bean (Quantanium)
HOODCELEBRITYY - Walking Trophy (Epic)
JAH LIL - Nuh Man Ting (Main Street Records)
JAHMIEL - Anyweh (Tru Ambassador)
KONSHENS - Bassline (Subkonshus Music Empire)
MASICKA - Changes (TJ Records)
MASICKA – Dem Nuh Happy Fi We (Life’s Path riddim: Good Good Productions)
MASICKA - Top Form (Genahsyde Records & J1 Productions)
MAVADO - Enemies (DJ Frass)
NINJAMAN & MONKEY MARC – Badness (Digikillaz)
NINJAMAN & MONKEY MARC - Badness (Monkey Marc)
POPCAAN - High Drive (Louis Out) (Mixpak Records)
POPCAAN - Weed Settingz (Louie V Music & Unruly Ent)
POPCAAN & JAH VINCI - Steamy (Unruly Ent)
POPCAAN & MR EAZI - Body So Good Remix (Mixpak Records)
SHANE O - Keep Yuh Hail (Big Zim Records)
SHANE O - Partner Draw (Full Chaarge)
SHENSEEA - Pon Mi (Dunwell)
SHENSEEA & KONSHENS - Hard Drive (Head Concussion)
SOKEL - Chillout Ting (Sokel)
SPICE - Gum (Spice Official Ent)
SPICE - Mahma Man (Cashflow)
STYLO G - Touch Down (FaNaTiX)
STYLO G & THE HEATWAVE - Closer To Me (Heat Wax)
TEEJAY - Up Top Boss (Knack Outt Productions)
TOSH ALEXANDER - Bubble (Brukout Records)
VYBZ KARTEL - Pretty Little House (Jones Ave)
VYBZ KARTEL - She Say (TJ Records)
VYBZ KARTEL - Stand Up (Twelve 9 & Loud City)
VYBZ KARTEL - What U Sellin (Massive B)
VYBZ KARTEL - Won’t Work (Vybz Kartel Muzik)
VYBZ KARTEL - Yabba Dabba Doo (Purple Skunk)

BEST OF THE REST 2018
Songs that don’t fit conventional definitions of reggae or dancehall, but deserve mention…

ALKALINE - Deep Sleep (Gego Don)
ALKALINE – Mirage (Tru Ambassador)
CHAN DIZZY - Problemz (Trouble Mekka)
CHINO & DI GENIUS - Eternal (Big Ship)
FUSE ODG & DAMIAN MARLEY - Bra Fie(Come Home) (Off Da Ground)
GOVANA & JADA KINGDOM – Better Than That (EMudio Records)
I OCTANE – More Than Ever (Ear Bud riddim: DJ Smurf Music)
JADA KINGDOM - Banana (Pop Style Music)
JAH IZREHL – Betta Than That (Tads)
JAHMIEL - We Feel The Pain (Emudio)
JAHMIEL - Winning (Tru Ambassador)
KABAKA PYRAMID & DAMIAN JR GONG MARLEY – Kontraband (Kontraband: Bebble Rock & Ghetto Youths International)
MASICKA – Stay Strong (Genahsyde Records & J1 Productions)
MAVADO – Father God (Dilemma riddim: Keno 4 Star)
RYGIN KING – Pressure In Life (How Me Grow) (Rush Sheikh Records)
RYGIN KING - Learn (Prodigy & GCity)
RYGIN KING – Still An Emergency (Rygin Trap & One Dream Records)
RYGIN KING - Things Go Change (One Dream Records & Hard Streetz)
TEEJAY - Grimy (Tru Ambassador)
YAW FASO - Motion (Alt Music Group)

Babylon Burning for Saturday, 5 January 2019

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