BABYLON BURNING with Jesse I
106.7 PBS-FM > Melbourne, Australia
Saturday 4th January, 2014
The annual Babylon Burning year in review show, with the top 20 reggae songs in the first hour, and the top 20 dancehall songs in the second. Both countdowns were aired in reverse order from number 20 down to the number one song.
BEST REGGAE 2013
In 2012, we first heard about the “reggae revival”, and witnessed the emergence of a new group of roots & culture artists, including the likes of Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, and Protoje. In 2013, they cemented themselves as a dominant force in Jamaican reggae music, leaving no doubt that this movement is for real. The flow-on effect was great to see, as Jamaican producers suddenly remembered their musical heritage, and started making reggae riddims once again.
Chronixx was clearly the most hyped artist of the year, but it was not unwarranted, and I feel he did earn the title of reggae artist of 2013. Kabaka Pyramid was a close second though, as is evident by his many entries in this year’s countdown – the Jamaican public and music media took longer to catch on to him, but now that has happened, his genuine talent should ensure he only gets bigger in 2014. For me personally, Jah Vinci was the other crucial artist of 2013. Now well removed from his former mentor, Vybz Kartel, Vinci really came into his own this year, and it was great to hear him on more one-drop riddims than in previous years.
Lutan Fyah deserves special mention also. After 15 years on the Kingston studio scene, most Jamaican artists suffer from pretty obvious creative burnout, but not Lutan Fyah. If anything, 2013 was his best year yet, his delivery sounding more refined, and his melodies and lyrics on point.
1) CHRONIXX, KABAKA PYRAMID, PROTOJE, SIZZLA – Selassie Souljahz (Royal Order Music)
2) TARRUS RILEY – Gimme Likkle One Drop (Tropical Escape riddim: Chimney Records)
KABAKA PYRAMID – No Capitalist (Tropical Escape riddim: Chimney Records)
CHRONIXX – Ain’t No Giving In (Tropical Escape riddim: Chimney Records)
3) JAH VINCI – Always On Time (Free Spirit riddim: Not Nice)
4) CHRISTOPHER MARTIN – Mi Friend Dem (Corner Shop riddim: 21st Hapilos)
JAH VINCI – Never Too Late (Corner Shop riddim: 21st Hapilos)
5) LUTAN FYAH – See To It (Life Of A King: Grillaras)
6) CHRONIXX – Most I (Scriptures riddim: Don Corleon)
JAH VINCI – Nice Again (Scriptures riddim: Don Corleon)
DA PROFESSOR – I Know Why (Scriptures riddim: Don Corleon)
7) CHRONIXX – Thanks and Praise (Lifeline Music)
8) TARRUS RILEY & KABAKA PYRAMID – Fly Di Gate (Selassie I Way riddim: Israel Records)
9) LUTAN FYAH & CHRONIXX – Cyaan Do We Nothing (Life Of A King: Grillaras)
10) REEMAH – Hypnotize (Check Your Words: Feel Line)
11) JAH VINCI – One More Time (Boom Drop riddim: Ghetto Network)
12) JAH BOUKS – Angola (Sunizes Entertainment)
13) CHRONIXX & KABAKA PYRAMID – Mi Alright (Rising Sun riddim: Chimney Records)
14) KABAKA PYRAMID – Liberal Opposer (Rough Road riddim: Green Lion Crew)
15) MIDNITE & PRESSURE – Same I Ah One (I Grade)
16) KABAKA PYRAMID – Herb Defenda (Bebble Rock)
17) DRE ISLAND – Uptown Down (Militancy riddim: Overstand Entertainment)
IBA MAHR – Step Away (Militancy riddim: Overstand Entertainment)
18) BUSY SIGNAL & EXCO LEVI – Wicked Evil Man (Going Home riddim: Larger Than Life)
19) BERES HAMMOND & SHAGGY – Fight This Feeling (VP)
20) BERES HAMMOND & BEENIE MAN – Selector Pull Up (Blacker Dread 7″)
21) RANDY VALENTINE – Victory (Number One Station riddim: Pull Up My Selecta!)
22) RANDY VALENTINE & ADDIS PABLO – Rat Race (Unfair Game riddim: Hemp Higher)
23) PROTOJE – Kingston Be Wise (Don Corleon)
24) PERFECT GIDDIMANI & PRESSURE – I Hail Jah (Over The Top: VP)
25) GYPTIAN – Tell You This (Rebellion riddim: Stainless)
REGGAE HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Chronixx’s “Here Comes Trouble” on Overstand’s Rootsman riddim would have been an easy entry in the top 5 this year, except that Jesse Royal’s “Modern Day Judas” already took out the number one spot last year. While a killer tune in its own right, it suffered a little from coming out so long after the rest of the riddim. Similarly, Torch’s “Good Reggae Music” was one of the songs of the year, but came out mid-2012 and also featured on last year’s countdown. Kabaka Pyramid had an amazing year, with tunes such as “Lead The Way”, “Worldwide Love”, and “Foundation” (with Jah Sun) just narrowly missing out. Sizzla’s “I’m Living” (for Australian producer Mista Savona) was his best in years, but came out a little too late in the year to have a big impact – I’m tipping it may well make an appearance in 2014 when the whole riddim gets a proper release. Other songs of note include Jah Vinci’s “Leave Babylon” and “Rise Again”, Bugle’s “Never Lose Faith” and “Be Yourself”, Lutan Fyah’s “Deliver Me Jah” and “Bossman”, Midnite & Lutan Fyah’s “When Jah Arise”, Chronixx’s “Alpha and Omega”, Aidonia’s “High Grade Party”, Junior X’s “Bunnaz”, Shuga’s “Bun Dem Down”, Morgan Heritage’s “Stand Up” and “Dem Can’t See I”, Munga’s “Coronation Day”, Exco Levi’s “Talk Talk”, D Major’s “Real Know Real”, Protoje’s “Hail Rastafari”, Jah 9’s “Steamers A Bubble”, Gappy Ranks’ “Carpenter”, Sweet C’s “Whip Them Jah Jah”, Dre Island’s “Rastafari Way”, High Grade’s “Weed Flex”, and Chino & Di Genius “Roots Sound”, and Di Genius’ “Me Alone”.
BEST DANCEHALL 2013
I’m not sure if says more about my personal taste, or about the quality of releases this year, but I found dancehall less inspiring in 2013 than in recent years. Perhaps it was because of the shift in attention back towards one drop reggae in Jamaica, but I feel like there were fewer really big dancehall riddims this year.
Major Lazer taking out the number one spot was a huge surprise, as I’ve never really been much of a fan – but Bumaye was undoubtedly the biggest song of the year. It’s not straight dancehall at all (the riddim was created by Dutch house producers FS Green and Flexican, and samples a salsa refrain by Willie Colon and Ruben Blades) but it was played in dancehall gigs all over the world, including Jamaica.
Vybz Kartel somehow continued to be the biggest artist in dancehall, despite spending a second consecutive year behind bars. He had many of the biggest songs of the year, with the retro-sounding “School” my personal favourite; even if its youth-oriented lyrics contradicted most of his other messages. I Octane and Konshens continued on from their success of 2012, Mavado and Aidonia had enough hits to stay on Tier 1, and Mad Cobra came back with a vengeance. On the other hand, the novelty of Tommy “Sparta” Lee appeared to wear off in 2013, while Popcaan didn’t have anywhere near the impact he had last year.
1. BUSY SIGNAL & MAJOR LAZER – Bumaye (Major Lazer)
2. VYBZ KARTEL – School (Short Boss Muzik)
3. ROMAIN VIRGO & KONSHENS – We No Worry Bout Them (Tin Mackerel riddim: Maximum Sound)
4. AIDONIA – Fi Di Jockey (Big Ship)
5. I OCTANE – Buss A Blank (First Capital riddim: Armz House)
6. MAD COBRA – Di Baddest (Brixton Bounce riddim: JRK Music)
7. I OCTANE – Gal A Gimmi Bun (Seanizzle)
8. I OCTANE – Wine and Jiggle (Seanizzle)
9. QQ & VENOMOUS – One Drop (Stashment)
10. KONSHENS – Drink and Rave (Razz & Biggy)
11. KONSHENS – Walk N Wine (Subkonshus)
12. KONSHENS – God A Mi Don (Decibels riddim: CR203)
13. I OCTANE – Still Naa Run (The King riddim: Birchill)
14. VYBZ KARTEL – Weed Smokers (Head Concussion)
15. POPCAAN – Unruly Rave (Block Party riddim: Adde & 21st Hapilos)
16. I OCTANE – Happy Time (Good Good)
17. MAD COBRA – Dis Dem Anyweh (Pop Style riddim: DJ Frass)
18. VYBZ KARTEL – Business (TJ)
19. MACKA DIAMOND – Dye Dye (Lockecity & Truck Back)
20. MAVADO – Carpet (Center Forward riddim: DJ Frass)
21. GAPPY RANKS – Dancehall Original (Bassrunner)
22. AIDONIA – Bruki (Big Ship)
23. BUSY SIGNAL – Bedroom Bully (Juke Boxx)
24. APPRENTICE – Real Friend (Dread EFX & Bassline Rock)
25. MAD COBRA – Ordinary (TJ)
DANCEHALL HONOURABLE MENTIONS:
Chronixx’s “Behind Curtains” received heavy play in 2013, but given that it was released in 2011, it was too much of a stretch to include on the 2013 countdown. Vybz Kartel had a bunch of tunes that just missed out, including “Hi”, “Convertible”, and “Punany A Mi Best Friend”; while Mavado missed out with “Give It All To Me”, “Million Dollar Man”, and “Can’t Happen”; and Konshens missed out with “Happy Time”, “Anyweh”, “Da Whine Deh” (with Negus), and “Pull Up To Mi Bumper” (with J Capri). As always, there were some tunes that were big internationally, but which I didn’t feel as much personally. Ninjaman made a welcome return to Jamaica’s music business, and his anthemic “Ninja Mi Ninja” demands a mention, even if I didn’t play it much myself. Likewise, Charly Black & J Capri’s “Wine and Kotch” was a dancefloor anthem around the world. Conversely, there were some songs that I loved, such as Sagitarr’s “One Draw”, Dexta Daps “Get High” and Taranchyla & Bling Dawg’s “Run Weh”, that just never caught on. Other songs that deserve mention include Busy Signal’s “Defense”, Cham’s “Sell Out”, Demarco’s “Make Me Prosper”.
NOTE ON SLOW DANCEHALL:
In 2012, I did a separate chart for the biggest “slow” dancehall tunes – the slower, more hiphop and r&b influenced riddims. There was a lot less of this music this year, so a whole chart wasn’t justified, but I’d still like to make mention of a few. Daseca’s classy Groupie Luv riddim was a personal favourite (especially the excellent Christopher Martin and Konshens cuts), while Bugle’s “Nuh Compatible” was a #1 hit in Jamaica. Other songs that deserve mention include Mavado’s “Weed and Hennessey”, Nicky B & Konshens’ “Cut Dem Off”, Demarco’s “Apartment”, and New York artist Kranium’s “Nobody Has To Know”.
listen anytime at the PBS website