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Jesse I's best of 2017 reggae and dancehall review

Babylon Burning : Playlist for Saturday 30 December 2017

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

JESSE I’S 2017 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. Some songs from the previous year often sneak into the countdown – slow burners that took a while to catch on, or became popular when a music video was released some time after the song itself.

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 2017 REGGAE

Few followers of contemporary reggae music would be surprised to see Chronixx and the Marley offspring in the top 5, but the names Samory I and Claye may not be as familiar. Samory I was clearly the breakthrough artist of the year, and his "Black Gold" release (produced by veteran Stone Love selector and producer Rory Gilligan) is also my pick for the best album of the year. Even more than the "roots revival" sound of recent years, Black Gold is a throwback to the classic roots reggae of the 70s, a very organic sound featuring deep one-drop riddims and majestic horns, perfectly matched with Samory I's superb singing. Again, the subject matter is classic reggae music - songs of sufferation, Rastafari, love, and ghetto life - yet somehow it still manages to sound fresh and not cliched. On the other hand, Claye comes with a very modern sound, and a sing-jay style I never tire of. This UK-based artist has quietly been doing his thing for a few years now, and still remains criminally under-rated despite releasing two of the better reggae albums of the last few years. Not just a first-rate singer/songwriter, Claye also self-produced and played all of the instruments on his 2017 album "Perception", and his purely independent approach also shines through in his uncompromising lyrics - particularly in songs like "F**k You", "Black Sheep", and "Speak My Mind". Looking further down the list, it's a joy to include a production from Melbourne boy Jake "Mista" Savona, taking the #5 spot with the hit lead single from his epic "Havana Meets Kingston" project, with help from top-class UK artist Randy Valentine, and Cuban singer Solis. Jamaican sing-jay Bugle is one of the most consistent artists of the decade, and always seems to take multiple spots on my countdown every year, despite never really getting a great deal of hype generally. This year was no exception, his "Be Yourself" album supplementing his usual strong single releases, and giving me a personal favourite for the year in "Devalue" - a song too slow for most dances, but which earned serious time on my car stereo. Other new names on the list are Eesah (emerging from Chronixx's shadow as a solid artist in his own right) and Koffe (who came out of nowhere to have a hit with "Burning", literally her first single ever).

1) CHRONIXX - Skankin Sweet (Chronology: Soul Circle Music)
2) CLAYE - Black Sheep (Perception: Countrybus Music)
3) SAMORY I - Black Gold (Black Gold: Black Dub Music/Rorystonelove)
4) DAMIAN MARLEY & STEPHEN MARLEY - Medication (Ghetto Youths International)
5) RANDY VALENTINE & SOLIS - Carnival (Mista Savona)
6) SAMORY I - Black Gold (Black Dub Music/Rorystonelove)
7) ROMAIN VIRGO & BUGLE - No Problem (Season Change riddim: Berta Music)
8) KABAKA PYRAMID - Can't Breathe (Ghetto Youths International)
9) COLLIE BUDDZ - Glass House (Good Life: Harper Digital)
10) BUGLE - Devalue (Be Yourself: An9nted Entertainment)
11) CLAYE - F**k You (Perception: Countrybus Music)
12) I OCTANE & JAH LIL - The Most High Live (Satta Rebirth riddim: Mr G Music)
13) PROTOJE - Blood Money (Indiggnation Collective)
14) KOFFE - Burning (Ouji riddim: Upsetta Records)
15) AKAE BEKA - Kind Words (Jahsaydo: Uhuru Boys Productions)
16) BUGLE - Endurance (Be Yourself: An9nted Entertainment)
17) CHRONIXX & CHRONICLE - Big Bad Sound (Chronology: Soul Circle Music)
18) BLACK UHURU & BUGLE - Jah Guide (Ajang)
19) PRESSURE - Sensi (In The Ghetto riddim: Jah Mikey One & Haze St Dub)
20) EESAH - Kingston Town (Caribic Night)

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
ARKAINGELLE - Be Good (Tru Da Fyah: Zion High Productions)
ARKAINGELLE & AKAE BEKA - Beloved (Tru Da Fyah: Zion High Productions)
AZA LINEAGE & SMILEZ - Smoke Weed Today (Back Alley Music)
BRAZAMAN & RAS JAHKNOW - No Black, No White (Jah Works: Brazaman)
BUGLE - Once A Man, Twice A Child (Be Yourself: An9nted Entertainment)
BUSY SIGNAL - Hold A Medi (Ouji riddim: Upsetta Records)
CHRISTOPHER MARTIN - Better Than The Stars (Big Deal: VP Records)
CHRISTOS DC, HARRISON STAFFORD, KENYATTA HILL - Communion (Tessera: Honest Music)
CHRONIXX - Country Boy (Chronology: Soul Circle Music)
CHRONIXX - Ghetto Paradise (Chronology: Soul Circle Music)
CHRONIXX, JAH PINKS, TOKE - Reggae Alive and Well (Bamboo Bench riddim: Ijayhi Records)
CLAYE & GENTLEMAN - Back Up (Perception: Countrybus Music)
COLLIE BUDDZ - Good Life (Good Life: Harper Digital)
COLLIE BUDDZ - Lovely Day (Good Life: Harper Digital)
CORNEL CAMPBELL, LEROY SIBBLES, PRINCE ALLA, THE JEWELS, CALI P, LUTAN FYAH, EXILE DI BRAVE - 100 Pounds Of Collie (Havana Meets Kingston: Mista Savona)
COURTNEY JOHN - Jah Love Is Waiting (Ecosystem: Soul Man Records & Fiwi Music)
DAMIAN MARLEY - Here We Go (Stony Hill: Ghetto Youths International)
DAMIAN MARLEY - Looks Are Deceiving (Stony Hill: Ghetto Youths International)
DAMIAN MARLEY - The Struggle Discontinues (Stony Hill: Ghetto Youths International)
DEXTA DAPS - Love Vacation (Intro: Daseca)
DIZZY DEE - What's Wrong With The World (Jungle Josh)
DIZZY DEE & TORCH - Remain Silent (Lion Riddims)
DRE ISLAND - Ganja I'm Smoking (Upful Reggae riddim: Black African Museum)
FARI DIFUTURE - Farmer Man (12 Yaad Records)
FYAKIN - Steamin (Class One)
GAPPY RANKS - Dung Dung Diggy (Digital Salute riddim: Larger Than Life)
GAPPY RANKS & JAH TUNG - Nice and Early (117 Records)
HEMPRESS SATIVA - Boom (Unconquerebel: Conquering Lion Records)
HEMPRESS SATIVA - Fight For Your Rights (Unconquerebel: Conquering Lion Records)
HEMPRESS SATIVA - No Peace (Unconquerebel: Conquering Lion Records)
I OCTANE - Thank You Father (Reggae Fest riddim: DJ Frass)
IBA MAHR - Dollar Sign (Body and Soul riddim: Notis)
IBA MAHR - Get Up And Show (Body and Soul riddim: Notis)
JAH VINCI - Ask Yourself (Satta Rebirth riddim: Mr G Music)
JAH VINCI - Mama Africa (Santiago riddim: Soundbank Music & Bright Light Entertainment)
JAH'MILA - Who Feels It Knows It (Riverside riddim: Nah Lef Ya)
JESSE ROYAL - Fyah Fyah (Real Life Story riddim: Life Style Records)
KABAKA PYRAMID - Friends Like Those (Harmonious riddim: Matao Muzik)
KEIDA - Pray Fi Dem (Israel riddim: Rootz Radicals)
KEZNAMDI & CHRONIXX - Victory (Keznamdi Music)
KRISTINE ALICIA - Roll It (Songs From Zion: Black Dub Music/Rorystonelove)
LONGFIYAH - Raggamuffin Yute Run Tings (GuerillJah Productions)
LUKE YEOWARD - Cool Water (Ghosts: Luke Yeoward)
LUTAN FYAH - Six Days (Nugs and Kisses riddim: Giddimani Music)
META & THE CORNERSTONES - Hira (Hira: Dibyz Music)
META & THE CORNERSTONES - Mind Your Business (Hira: Dibyz Music)
MICAH SHEMIAH & GIARK - Rude Bwoy Jamaica (Micah Shemiah & Giark)
MILLION STYLEZ - Jah Kingdom Come (Bamboo Bench riddim: Ijayhi Records)
MUNGA - It Nuh Easy (Live From Kingston riddim: Stainless)
NATTALI RIZE - One People (Nattali Rize/Roots People)
NATTALI RIZE & RAGING FYAH - Fly Away (Body and Soul riddim: Notis)
NATTALI RIZE, KABAKA PYRAMID, NOTIS - Generations Will Rize (Notis)
PRESSURE BUSSPIPE - Roun Yah (Waggy Ras & Le-Gions Music)
PROMISE NO PROMISES - Draw We Out (No Can Do: MacLes Music Factory)
PROTOJE & MORTIMER - Truth and Rights (Indiggnation Collective)
QUASHANI BAHD - That's Why I Love You (ZJ Heno)
RANDY VALENTINE - Officer Barrage (67 riddim: King Horror)
RANDY VALENTINE - Vigilant (New Narrative: Royal Order & Loud City)
RANDY VALENTINE & ANYILENA - Vibracion Positive (Havana Meets Kingston: Mista Savona)
RANGE - Inward Rasta (Diamond Links)
RAS DEMO - Babylon (Reggae Sax riddim: Reggae Vibes)
RAS MATTHEW - Hand Me The Marijuana
RIK-E-RAGGA & MARVIN PRIEST - Searching For Paradise (Ragga Records)
ROMAIN VIRGO & CHRIS MARTIN - Leave People Business (Bettter Dub riddim: Mr G Music)
ROYAL BLU - On The Side (Sing With God: Foresta Music)
SAHIDA APSARA & SARITAH - Radiant Star (Convoy Unltd)
SAMORY I - Fear Of Jah (Black Gold: Black Dub Music/Rorystonelove)
SAMORY I - Not Because (Black Gold: Black Dub Music/Rorystonelove)
SAMORY I - Serve Jah (Black Gold: Black Dub Music/Rorystonelove)
SAMORY I - Son Of David (Black Gold: Black Dub Music/Rorystonelove)
SAMORY I - Weed (Black Gold: Black Dub Music/Rorystonelove)
SHUGA - Force Ripe (Digital Shade riddim: Digital B)
SHUGA - Onward (Silly Walks)
SIZZLA - Live In Love (Digital Fashion riddim: Digital B)
TEACHA DEE - Emperor Selassie (Burnhard Spliffington riddim: Giddimani Music)
UNO JAHMA - Israel (Israel riddim: Rootz Radicals)
VYBZ KARTEL & KY-MANI MARLEY - Cool and Deadly (Ghetto Rock riddim: TJ Records)
YOUNG SHANTY - Check For You (Burnhard Spliffington riddim: Giddimani Music)
YOUNG SHANTY - Nugs and Kisses (Nugs and Kisses riddim: Giddimani Music)
ZAMUNDA - Burn Dem Down (Scripts and Scrolls: Sweet Waters Spawn)
ZAMUNDA - Greatness (Scripts and Scrolls: Sweet Waters Spawn)

BEST OF 2017 DANCEHALL

What is left to say about Vybz Kartel? His continued dominance of dancehall music from behind bars has gone from astounding to expected. In 2017, like every other year since his imprisonment in 2011, he simply owned the genre (and in many ways, the country of Jamaica itself). Once again, Alkaline was hot on his heels though, almost all of his releases finding the mark and becoming a hit. Though Chronixx is much more a reggae artist than a dancehall one, I gave his anthem "Likes" the number one spot this year, as I don't think there was any other song that was as universally played, at least here in Melbourne. Sheensea has to be dancehall's breakout artist of the year, her career ignited by the huge success of the Kartel combination song "Loodi" (released in 2016 but still huge for the first half of 2017). Thankfully she was able to back up that start with a string of strong releases, including the dancefloor-favourite "Waistline Ting" which also made my top 20.

1) CHRONIXX - Likes (Soul Circle Music)
2) AIDONIA - Yeah Yeah (Emudio)
3) ALKALINE - Red Eyes (La Vida riddim: Lee Milla)
4) VYBZ KARTEL & WIZKID - Wine To Di Top (World Fete riddim: TJ Records)
5) VYBZ KARTEL - Highest Level (Head Concussion)
6) VYBZ KARTEL - Hold It (Studio Vibes)
7) VYBZ KARTEL - Mhm Hm (Jones Ave)
8) VYBZ KARTEL & MASICKA - Infrared (TJ Records)
9) DEXTA DAPS - 21 (Riddim 21 riddim: Ireland Records)
10) POPCAAN - 1 Guh (Young Vibez)
11) VYBZ KARTEL & SHENSEEA - Loodi (So Unique)
12) VYBZ KARTEL - Easy (Adidjahiem)
13) ALKALINE - Impact (Gego Don)
14) ALKALINE - Fast (Yellow Moon)
15) DEMARCO, AKON, RUNTOWN - No Wahala (Konvict Kulture)
16) JAHMIEL - Love Ones (Caliente riddim: Dunwell)
17) MASICKA - 10 Outta 10 (Money Mix riddim: Good Good Productions)
18) MAVADO - Careless Gal (Humbug riddim: CR203)
19) SHENSEEA - Waistline Ting (Mash Up International)
20) BUSY SIGNAL - Stay So (New Box riddim: Warriors Muzik)

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
AGENT SASCO - Conqueror (Darker Shades riddim: Sting International & Ranch Ent)
AIDONIA - Hot Tool (JOP & 4th Genna)
ALKALINE - Buss Head (Timer riddim: DJ Frass)
ALKALINE - Golden Hold (Golden riddim: Lee Milla)
ALKALINE - Pretty Girl Team (Forever riddim: Armz House)
ALKALINE - Son Of A Queen (Money House riddim: Chimney)
BEENIE MAN - Dweet Den (Ragga riddim: Elektracute)
DEMARCO - Party Nice Can't Done (Star Kutt & Konlive)
DEXTA DAPS - Grow Rough (Intro: Daseca)
FAY ANN LYONS - Raise Your Glass (Chicken and Dumplin riddim: Kubiyashi & Walshy Fire)
GAPPY RANKS - Buckingham Palace (Banton Bandits riddim: 420 Sound)
I OCTANE - Mi Ears A Ring (Full Chaarge)
I OCTANE - Party Start (Carib Feeling riddim: Jones Ave)
JAHMIEL - Strongest Soldier (Money House riddim: Chimney)
MAVADO - Love Everything (Humbug riddim: CR203)
MAVADO - Laugh and Gwaan (La Vida riddim: Lee Milla)
PARLY B - Dance (Banton Bandits riddim: 420 Sound)
POPCAAN - Frass Box (Wicked Up riddim: Notnice)
POPCAAN - Still Feel Good (Unruly Party riddim: Notnice)
SEAN PAUL - Suh Mi High (Dutty Rock Music)
SK SIMEON - Live and Direck (unsoundbwoy)
SK SIMEON - Ram Dance Daddy (Naram)
SK SIMEON - Ram Dance Don (King Toppa)
SK SIMEON & COOKIE CUTTERS - Free (Cookie Cuttters)
STONEBWOY & DEMARCO - Say It (Monie Beatz)
TARRUS RILEY - Graveyard (Moscow riddim: Head Concussion)
VYBZ KARTEL - Don't Come Back (Vybz Kartel Muzik)
YAW FASO - Massive (Alt Music Group)

BEST OF THE REST 2017
Songs that didn’t weren’t 100% reggae or dancehall, but deserve mention…

Alandon - Stop Chat (Thompson House Music)
Alkaline - Hard Tackle (Chimney)
Alkaline - Nice and Easy (Lee Milla)
Alkaline - Suave (Chimney)
Busy Signal - Ghetto Life (Stainless)
Capleton, Fantan Mojah, Sizzla - No Surrender megamix (Monkey Marc)
Dexta Daps - Pray More (Kraiggi Badart)
Dexta Daps - Star (Soundbank & Nuh Linga)
Dre Island - Jah Is For Us (Notnice)
Eesah - High Grade (Yardcrime Remix)
Eesah - Main Volume (High Shelf Entertainment)
EEsah - Run Ova Dem (Vybznation)
Fabian - Mr Death (Soundbank & Nuh Linga)
Jahmiel - Dem Too Hype (DJ Frass)
Jahmiel - Nobody Nuh Care (UIM Records)
Kranium - Meet N Beat (Atlantic)
Kranium & Masicka - Fire In The Rain (TMG Productions & Genahsyde)
Mavado - Red Rose (Big Ship)
Munga Honorable - Situations (Netspen Entertainment)
Popcaan - Family (Pure Music)
Popcaan - Preserve My Life (Notnice)
Shane 0 - Ungrateful (Jones Ave)
Tarrus Riley & Konshens - Simple Blessings (Chimney)
Tatik - Till The Party (One Time Music)
Vershon - All Fi Dem (Notnice)
Vybz Kartel - Watch Over Us (TJ Records)
Zagga - Lit (Chimney)

 

 

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