The genre that spawned anti-gay anthems is back in the big time, with a fresh attitude, as Chris Mugan writes for London’s Independent.
With Bruno Mars and Wyclef Jean guesting on Diplo’s new Major Lazer album, Jamaican artist Busy Signal guesting on No Doubt’s comeback record and bass-heavy tunes heard in the UK’s hipster clubs, Jamaican dancehall seems to be enjoying a peak of influence on mainstream pop and underground dance. And yet, a decade ago, the genre was mired in controversy.
As a musical term, dancehall has been used since the Eighties to describe a distinct style emphasising rhythm over melody, with Sly & Robbie among its most famed producers. A step-change came with the ditching of in-house bands for pure digital instrumentation, providing a platform for the high-energy ragga vocalists that emerged in the Nineties and vied to provide the killer line over popular backing tracks, or riddims. Much of the lyrical content, about guns and girls, was instantly familiar to hip-hop fans, though it was the occasional homophobic number that proved poisonous when …[Full article HERE]