Playlist: January 3, 2015 (Best of 2014)


Another very solid year for contemporary reggae music. Once again, young singer Chronixx was my pick for reggae artist of the year. Not as prolific as some, it seems to be a case of quality over quantity with Chronixx, and everything he voiced was well worth a listen.

As always, this list reflects my personal taste, while taking into account the response these songs received at dances locally and around the world. I try to 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 always 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.

Please note that I’ve deliberately omitted releases from the very end of 2014, such as the Clocktower and Empire riddim, Midnite’s “Ride Tru”, and Torch & Bugle’s “Fire Man A Bun” – I feel like they deserve more time to prove themselves, and I expect them to feature in my review of 2015.

1) PROTOJE & CHRONIXX – Who Knows (Overstand)
2) CHRONIXX – Capture Land (Chronixx Music)
3) BUSY SIGNAL & RC – Brighter Days (Silly Walks)
4) CHRONIXX – Eternal Fire (Special Delivery)
5) CHRONIXX – Perfect Tree (Roots and Harmony & Royal Order Music)
6) EXCO LEVI – Welcome The King (Kheilstone)
7) BUGLE – False Prophet (CR203)
8) LUTAN FYAH & MILLION STYLEZ – Revelation Time (Akom)
9) CHRONIXX – Wheel Out (Chronixx Music)
10) CHRISTOPHER MARTIN – Playing Games With My Heart (Ranch Entertainment)
SCREECHY DAN – Raise Your Glass (Ranch Entertainment)
11) DIZZY & TORCH – Never See We Fading (Lion Riddims & ABRA Records)
12) RAS MUHAMAD – Lion Roar (Oneness Records)
13) MORGAN HERITAGE – Why Dem Come Around (DJ Frass)
JEMERE MORGAN – Run Dem Out (DJ Frass)
14) MIDNITE – All I’s On You (Beauty For Ashes: I Grade)
15) CHRONIXX – Iyah Walk (Digital B)
16) JAH 9 – Steamers A Bubble (Shambala & Hit Bound) *2013
17) MIDNITE & RAS BATCH – Weather The Storm (Same I Ah One: I Grade)
18) RC, EXCO LEVI, SHUGA – Ready When You Ready (Penthouse)
19) CALI P – Wha Gwaan (Maxfield Avenue riddim: Seani B & Don Chandler)
20) EXCO LEVI – Wahdada (Penthouse)
21) JAH9 – Avocado (New Name: Rorystonelove)
22) STEPHEN MARLEY, SIZZLA, CAPLETON – Rock Stone (Ghetto Youths)
23) MASICKA & GARNETT SILK – Keep Them Talking (Don Corleon)
24) BUGLE – Weh Yuh Can Bare (TJ)
25) JAH VINCI – Ghetto Youths Rejoice (Cyclone)


ARMY – Long Long Road (Jump For Joy riddim: Splatterhouse)
ASSASSIN – Badda Dan Dem (Zinc Fence)
BLACK I AM – Samson Strength (Ghetto Youths) *2013
BUGLE – Life Goes On (Simma Stew)
BUGLE – Survivor (7th Heaven riddim: DJ Frass)
BUSY SIGNAL – Money Flow / Greetings (Turf Muzik)
BUSY SIGNAL & EXCO LEVI – Wicked Evil Man (Larger Than Life)
DELUS – Caah Mek Badmind Win (Birchill)
EXCO LEVI – Collie Farmer (Penthouse)
FIKIR AMLAK – Fya (King of Kings: Jah Youth & Black Lion)
JAHDAN BLAKKAMORE & KABAKA PYRAMID – For The Children (Junction riddim: Zion I Kings)
JOHNNY CLARKE & DETERMINE – African Roots (Savona Records & Muti Music)
KANANGA – Most High Jah (King Majesty riddim: Stainless)
KIPRICH – Loyalty (DJ Frass)
LUTAN FYAH – Hard To Stay Alive (Lion Inna Den riddim: Iron Gate)
LUTAN FYAH – No Justice For The Poor (Love U riddim: May B Unity)
LUTAN FYAH – Push Wood (Shiah Coore Productions)
NIYORAH – Here To Serve (Idler’s Corner)
PRESSURE – Serious About It (The Sound: I Grade)
PRINCE MALACHI – Give Thanks (Rise Up riddim: Oneness Records)
RANDY VALENTINE – Foundation (Straight Sound & Studio One)
RAS MUHAMAD – Salam (Salam: Oneness)
RAS MUHAMAD & KABAKA PYRAMID – Re-Education (Salam: Oneness)
RAS MUHAMAD & KUNOKINI – Lehluhur (Salam: Oneness)
RC – Palestine (Rough Survivor)
REEMAH – Be Free (Splatterhouse)
SIZZLA – I’m Living (Savona Records & Muti Music)
SHUGA – Ride Di Riddim (Studio One)
TORCH & GAPPY RANKS – Barefoot (Royal Order Music)
ZIGGI RECADO – A No My Fault (Penthouse riddim: Jugglerz Production)


My dancehall countdown for 2014 is a little more subjective than in previous years. Lack of time (thanks to parenthood) meant that I wasn’t able to listen to as much soundsystem dance and clash audio as I normally would, which in turn meant that I was less influenced what was big in Jamaica. That said, the list still does take into account worldwide success, as well as local anthems big in the local Melbourne dancehall scene. The latter is the reason that QQ’s “One Drop” features so high, despite being released in the first half of 2013 – no other song was requested as much this year, making it something of a “must play” tune.

Iba Mahr’s “Diamond Sox” is an awkward one for the number one spot, as some people would consider it more reggae than dancehall. For me though, it’s a homage to the classic old days of dancehall, from the retro/digital sound of Notis’ production, through to the lyrics and excellent music video. I don’t care if it isn’t dancehall enough for some – for me, it was the best dancehall tune of the year.

Chimney Records “Happy Hour” riddim was one of my favourites from the latter part of the year, and brought the best out of a lot of artists. Tarrus & Zagga’s combination “Free Up” was hard to beat, but I gave the nod to the remix combination version “Way Up Stay Up”, which was one of the best party starters of the year.

Not just a tattooed freak, Alkaline has some undeniable talent, and he earned his entries on the countdown. On Not Nice’s “Boom Box” riddim, both he and Spice had massive hits, while his cut on the huge “Wul Dem” narrowly edged out Kartel for my pick of the riddim.

Demarco had a very strong year. He stayed in the media spotlight thanks to some well-publicised rivalries with other artists, as well as some particularly raunchy music videos – but most importantly he continued to make great songs, including some of the biggest party anthems of 2014.

In April 2014, Vybz Kartel was sentenced to life in prison for murder. Despite being incarcerated since late 2011, he has remained the most important artist in dancehall, and even the guilty verdict didn’t stop the flow of new Kartel tunes out a road. As well as the songs mentioned below, Kartel released many more that were extremely popular, but didn’t connect with me personally.

1) IBA MAHR – Diamond Sox (Notis Records)
2) QQ – One Drop (Stashment) *2013
TARRUS RILEY & ZAGGA – Free Up (Chimney)
4) ALKALINE – Gyal Bruk Out (Not Nice)
SPICE – So Mi Like It (Not Nice)
5) ALKALINE & IKEL MARVLUS – Wul De Claffy Dem (Wul Dem riddim: Yellow Moon)
VYBZ KARTEL – Nuh Play Roun Wid Fyah (Wul Dem riddim: Yellow Moon)
6) DEMARCO – Nice Nuh Bumboclaat (Social Yaad)
7) DEMARCO – Drop Nuh (Jay Crazie)
8) GAGE – Kitty Cat (Promiscuous riddim: Full Chaarge)
VYBZ KARTEL – Pretty Position (Promiscuous riddim: Full Chaarge)
9) DETXA DAPS – This A The Best (RazzAttack riddim: Razz Attack)
I OCTANE – Nuh Tek Bad Up (RazzAttack riddim: Razz Attack)
10) VYBZ KARTEL – Mama (TJ)
11) BUSY SIGNAL – Gyal Yuh Good (Turf Muzik)
12) DEMARCO – Gal Dem Time (First Name)
13) WARD 21 – Spot The J (Wiletunes)
14) BEENIE MAN – Don’t Watch Me (Jah Snowcone)
15) KRANIUM – Nobody Has To Know (LMR Pro) *2013
16) DEMARCO – Good Book (H20)
17) KONSHENS – Don Daddy (Juke Boxx)
SHABBA RANKS – Big Time (Juke Boxx)
18) CHICO & SUKU WARD – Seh Wah You A Seh (DJ Frass)
VYBZ KARTEL – Make Di Star Shine (DJ Frass)
19) I OCTANE – Hot Spot (Markus Records)
20) VYBZ KARTEL – Louis V (Short Boss Muzik)
21) CHRONIXX – Spirulina (Zinc Fence)
22) DEMARCO – Build A Vibes (New Money riddim: Fresh Ear)
23) J CAPRI – Reverse It (Head Concussion)
24) J CAPRI – Boom and Bend Over (Head Concussion)
25) JAH VINCI – Dem Sick (Cyclone)


ALKALINE – In The World (JJEvaFrass)
ALKALINE – Shegg Up (Yard Vybz)
BEENIE MAN – Truck Load (Big Ship)
BUSY SIGNAL – Professionally (Turf Muzik)
DEMARCO – Puppy Tail (Dunwell)
DEMARCO & JAH VINCI – Badman Place (Tripledose)
DEXTA DAPS – Dapa Don (Daseca)
GAGE – Put It Yasso (Thirty Six Degrees)
KABAKA PYRAMID – Lock Down Di Place (Purple Skunkz)
KONSHENS – From Mi Born (CR203 & Head Concussion)
MAD COBRA – Life We A Deal Wid (Galang)
MAVADO – High Life (JA Productions)
MAVADO & CHAM – Love Song (Mad House)
MR VEGAS – Road (MV Music)
POPCAAN – Everything Nice (Mixpak Records)
QQ – Nuh Boring Zone (Biggy Music)
SK SIMEON – Dance Haffi Gwaan (King Toppa)
SK SIMEON – Dopper Than Dope (King Toppa)
SK SIMEON – Ram Dancehall (King Toppa)
SUKU WARD – Cyaa Do We Nuttn (Purple Skunkz)
VYBZ KARTEL – Box Lunch (Wul Dem Again riddim: Yellow Moon)
VYBZ KARTEL – Fire Ball (TJ Records)
VYBZ KARTEL – Rambo Kanambo (CR203)

Songs that didn’t weren’t 100% reggae or dancehall, but deserve mention:

BUGLE – Anointed (Daseca)
KABAKA PYRAMID & PROTOJE – Quiet Thoughts (Urban Tree Music)
JAH VINCI – Enemies A Walk (True Melodies riddim: Street Block)
I OCTANE – Jah Mi Say (DJ Frass)