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For The Americans: Reggae, Vybz Kartel, Movado, Riddims & More

Submitted by on August 26, 2011 – 3:50 pmNo Comment

With the approach of Labor Day I feel it is my place as a Jamaican to inform all my American friends on the reggae they should have in their iPods. As you know, if you miss two weeks of reggae you might of missed about 700 new songs.

So the breakdown: A common compliant I hear is all the songs sound alike or why are the songs so long. First your very ignorant for that but I can understand because you’re not educated on the subject. To make things easy, I’ll compare this to hip-hop as much as possible. Reggae is what old people listen to, reggae is what you hear at resorts and in dumb movies about Jamaica. Don’t get me wrong—I love reggae. I can sit and vibe (if you know what I mean) to some Bob Marley any day. Nevertheless, that’s neither here nor there. Dancehall is like the rap music to reggae. Dancehall owes its nickname to the Jamaican dance halls (event venues) in which popular Jamaican recordings were played by local sound systems (or big DJ crews).

Like rap music today, dancehall music has come under criticism from international organizations and individuals for its content, which is sometimes violent and homophobic. But like rap, not all lyrics and song are about the same thing.

Now, the sounding alike thing. What sets dancehall apart from any other form of music is its unique structure. Riddim is the Jamaican patois pronunciation of the English word “rhythm,” but in dancehall it refers to the instrumental accompaniment to a song. Thus, a dancehall song consists of the Riddim plus the “voicing” (vocal part) sung by the deejay. A given Riddim, if popular, may be used in dozens—or even hundreds—of songs. So, as a reggae artist, the goal is to have the best or most popular song on a popular Riddim. Unlike rap where if there is multiple people on one beat its considered the same song (same subject matter), party DJs will string together all the most popular songs on a Riddim and mix them together one after the other. To the untrained ear this can seem like one really long song.

With all that said here are some Riddims you should have in your iPod:

“Hold Yuh Riddim”

“S-Class Riddim”

“Duss Riddim”

“Summer Time Riddim”

“One Day Riddim”

“Street Vybz Riddim”

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