BABYLON BURNING with Jesse I 106.7 PBS-FM > Melbourne, Australia 5-7 PM > JANUARY 9 > 2010 The annual Babylon Burning year in review, looking at the biggest reggae and dancehall tunes of 2009. As always, the Top 20 lists were aired in reverse order, counting down to the number one spot. JESSE I'S BIGGEST REGGAE TUNES 2009 1. ROMAIN VIRGO - Who Feels It Knows It (Penthouse) QUEEN IFRICA - Serve and Protect (Penthouse) 2. ROMAIN VIRGO - Mi Caan Sleep (Penthouse) 3. DAMIAN MARLEY - Holiday (Ghetto Youths) 4. GYPTIAN - Life (Jam 2) 5. SIZZLA - Don't Give A F**k (Jam Strong) 6. BUSY SIGNAL - Beep (Juke Boxx) CAPLETON - Acres (Juke Boxx) 7. MONSOON - As-Salaam Alakum 8. I OCTANE - Blood Shed (Don Corleon) 9. LADY G - Ghetto Vibes (House Of Hits) 10. VIDA SUNSHYNE - By The Way (Savona Records) SIZZLA - Why Does The World Cry (Savona Records) 11. PETER MORGAN - Warzone (Juke Boxx) ASSASSIN - Priority (Juke Boxx) 12. KIPRICH - Changes (Armz House) 13. KHAGO - Caan Cool (Shacoops) 14. CHEZIDEK - Bun Di Ganja (Irie Ites) 15. FANTAN MOJAH - Rasta Chalice (Fireball) 16. QUEEN IFRICA - Dem Never See Di Sign (Penthouse) 17. PETER MORGAN - Be Mindful (Supahype) 18. ASSASSIN - Give Thanks (Big Ship) 19. MILLION VOICE - Humble (Angelo) 20. ETANA - August Town (Freemind) NOTES AND HONORABLE MENTIONS: 2009 was a year of great change in the Jamaican music industry, and I'll forever remember it as the year that the Jamaican vinyl industry went onto life support (it didn't really die altogether, but it now exists as a shadow of its former self). As the industry became almost completely digital, some of the older reggae producers dropped out of the game - there were no releases at all from labels like Digital B, Black Scorpio, Xterminator, Jammys, and 321 Strong for example. While dancehall thrived in 2009, traditional reggae roots and culture seemed to decline somewhat, but thankfully labels such as Juke Boxx and Penthouse ensured the quality was still there. Other reggae tunes that deserve mention include Beres Hammonds' "I Feel Good" (a 2008 released that still gets played regularly as we enter 2010), Busy Signal's "Dem Mad", "Uniform Bad Bwoy" and "Unfair" (with Peetah Morgan), Natural Black's "Africa Me A Reach", Jahmali's "Serious Question", Pressure's "Pure Life", Queen Ifrica's "No Bwoy", I Octane's "Mama You Alone", Alborosie's "Humbleness", Gyptian's "Eyes On The Prize", Nitty Kutchie's "Welcome", Terry Linen's "Holiday Inn", Anthony B's "Pressure", Perfect's "Can't Touch Me", Demarco's "Pull It Selecta", and the Buju Banton & John Legend combination "Can't Be My Lover". JESSE I'S BIGGEST DANCEHALL TUNES 2009 Please note that I've used a fairly broad definition of dancehall here, as the lines between dancehall, hiphop and r&b have become increasingly blurred... 1. DEMARCO - True Friends (Fresh Ear) 2. G WHIZZ - Life (TJ) 3. JAH VINCI - Prayer (Izes Records) 4. VYBZ KARTEL - Life We Living (Cashflow) KONSHENS - Realest Song (Cashflow) 5. BUSY SIGNAL - Hustle (Birch) 6. ASSASSIN - Hand Inna Di Air (Big Ship) 7. MAVADO - Hope and Pray (ZJ Chrome) 8. FLIPPA MAFIA - Foundation Over Hype 9. VYBZ KARTEL - Hustle The Money (Liv Up) 10. CHARLY BLACKS - Rich This Year (Coppershot) 11. VYBZ KARTEL & DI GENIUS - Be Careful (Big Ship) 12. WASP - Unfair (Officer) (WMP) 13. I OCTANE - Work (Don Corleon) 14. BLACK RYNO - Work Hard Everyday (Big Ship) 15. TARRUS RILEY & KONSHENS - Good Girl Gone Bad (Head Concussion) 16. MAVADO - A So You Move (Big Ship) 17. DEMARCO - Death Trap (Payday) 18. DING DONG & CHEVAUGHN - Holiday (Notice) 19. JAH VINCI - Wipe Those Tears (Chimney) 20. CHAN DIZZY - Nuh Sell Out (Head Concussion) NOTES AND HONORABLE MENTIONS: I've never found it harder to work out my favourite dancehall tunes for a year - mainly because I've never enjoyed dancehall as much as I did in 2009. Every year people lament the state of the music, but personally I thought it was in great shape - not only did I love all the slower hiphop-influenced riddims like Mood Swing and Better Life, but all other styles of dancehall were represented as well - throwback/old-school riddims like School Bell, bouncy riddims like Baddaz and Street Bullies, tech-influenced riddims like Tripple Bounce and Set Me Free, classic bashment like Good Life and Street Team, darker riddims like Sixteen and Clearance, etc. In putting together this list, I had to omit a lot of huge tunes, but I guess that's where personal preference comes in. Looking at honorable mentions Boardhouse records Clean Sweep riddim was huge at the start of the year, but was technically a 2008 release, as was the Remand riddim from Not Nice, which boasted one of my all-time favourites with Jah Vinci's "Watch Yu Friends". Kartel's "Last Man Standing", released only a day or so after Sting 2008 was a huge tune for him at the start of the year, but faded out fast as people moved on from the subject of his famous clash with Mavado. Mavado himself had numerous big tunes that nearly made it into the top 20, including Mockingbird on Fire Link's Street Team riddim, Dem A Talk on Chimney's Movie Star riddim, Fall Rain Fall for producer Frass (who made quite a name for himself in 2009), Can't Take Wi Life with producer Di Genius, and huge gal tune Neva Belive You. Street Bullies and Go Go Club were two of the bigger riddims of the year, but I found it hard to single out any particular cuts on each, hence their omission from the countdown. Gaza-aligned production crew Not Nice were responsible for some of the tunes I loved most in 2009 which were the hardest to play to a dancefloor - for this reason tunes like Black Ryno's "Heights Of Great Men", Jah Vinci's "Money", and the Jah Vinci & Black Ryno combination "Mi Feel A Way" missed out simply because I played them far more at home than in the dance. Demarco had a great year, both as a producer and an artist. As well as the above tunes, he also connected with "Hustling Forever" for Chimney, "Some A Seh" for Youngblood, and "Badmind Energy" with Ding Dong. Although it was definitely a 2008 tune, Kartel & Spice's slack "Ramping Shop" was still played heaps (too much?) this year, and the Kartel & Indu combination "Virginity" was similarly everywhere. Other tunes deserving of mention include Leftside's "She Nah Waah", Teflon's "Jah Has Been There", Aidonia's "Evil Head", Tarrus Riley/Demarco/Kartel's "Herbs Promotion", Busy Signal's "Caan Buy We Out" and "Da Style Deh", Stein's "Easy", I Octane's "Thank You Father", Beenie Man's "Gaza Mi Seh" and "Bar Bill", Bling Dawg's "Jamaica Jamaica", Chino's "Pon Your Head", Elephant Man's "Sweep The Floor", TOK's "No Bag A Man Thing", Bramma & Di Genius' "Some People", Kartel's "Love Dem", Mavado's "House Cleaning", and Aidonia's "I Like Her" on Equiknoxx's Swagga Dagga riddim.