Playlist: January 2, 2021 (best of 2020 review)

106.7 PBS-FM > Melbourne, Australia
Saturday 2nd January 2021


For the last two decades, I’ve compiled a list of the best reggae and dancehall releases at the end of each year. Normally it is reflective of both my own personal taste, and songs that got the biggest response in the dance. With no local live events since March, and nightlife elsewhere in the world similarly curtailed, this year’s countdown is much more biased than normal. This is particularly evident on the dancehall side of things, where my love of slow and dark dancehall wasn’t balanced by having to take dancefloors into account. As usual, I’ve tried to avoid including more than one song on a particular riddim, though in some cases an honourable mention must be made where songs were equally big and always got played together.  Some songs from the previous year often sneak into the countdown – slow burners that took a while to catch on, became popular when a music video was released some time after the song itself, or were simply more popular this year than last.

The songs were aired in reverse order, counting down from #25 to #1, with reggae in the first hour, and dancehall in the second. Songs with an asterix were released in 2019.


I feel like it was a solid year for Jamaican reggae. Covid lockdown and more time spent on the island obviously helped increase the productivity of a lot of artists, such as Kabaka Pyramid, who was far more prolific than normal and had a bunch of tunes that only just missed out on the top 25. Protoje was my artist of the year for reggae, almost entirely on the strength of his excellent album “In Search Of Lost Time”. Interestingly, on first listen I thought the album was too crossover-oriented, but the more I listened, the more I loved it. Marcus Gad (from New Caledonia) released the other album that I really loved in 2020, “Rhythm Of Serenity”, produced by Zion I Kings.  It was also great to see some fresh Rasta artists stepping up in 2020 – names like Royal Blu, 5 Star Celestial, Runkus and Nga Han just to name a few. I feel like the “Reggae Revival” movement has needed a breath of fresh air, and it got it in 2020.

  1. Tarrus Riley, Teejay, Dean Fraser – Babylon Warfare
  2. Lutan Fyah & Royal Blu – Watch Over Me
  3. Protoje & Popcaan – Like Royalty
  4. Busy Signal – Juvie Slow Down
  5. Khalia – Easy
  6. Monkey Marc, SOS Dynamikz, Fyah Roiall, Jah Izrehl – Amun Ra
  7. Protoje & Koffee – Switch It Up
  8. Marcus Gad – Oh Mama
  9. Keznamdi – Chillumpeng
  10. Blessed – Herb Dream
  11. Black Am I – The Edge
  12. I Octane – All I Got Is Me
  13. Protoje – Deliverance
  14. Protoje – Weed and Ting
  15. Protoje – Self Defense
  16. Koffee – Pressure
  17. Tilibop – All That
  18. 5 Star Celestial – One Away
  19. Nga Han & Roots Unity w The Signal One Band – Great Honor
  20. Chronixx – Dela Move
  21. Jah9 & Chronixx – Note to Self (Okay)
  22. Chronixx & Kabaka Pyramid – Same Prayer
  23. Junior X – Revolt
  24. Alborosie – Unprecedented Time
  25. Chezidek & The Ligerians – No Solutions In Their Lies

Akae Beka – Heartbeat Of A Dub
Akae Beka & Chronixx – Black Carbon
Akae Beka & Tiken Jah Fakoloy – Everything Bless
Alborosie & Jo Mersa – Ready
Archives & Puma Ptah – Home Is Where The Hatred Is
Archives, Puma Ptah, Mustafa Akbar – Who’ll Pay Reparations On My Soul
Arkaingelle, Kabaka Pyramid, Pressure – Light Tha Torch
Aza Lineage, Monkey Marc, Escape Roots – Prosper
Bella Blair – Gimmie A Light
Belly & JahWise – Star
Black Am I – King Of Kings
Blakkamoore – Red Ites
Blakkamoore – Mek It Play
Bramma – Sensie Ride
Buju Banton – Beat Dem Bad
Buju Banton – Rising Up
Buju Banton – Ganja Man
Busy Signal – Jamaica Jamaica
Busy Signal – Hang On
Capleton – Day Mi Born (Marshall Neeko Remix)
Chezidek & The Ligerians – Over The Mountains
Chino McGregor – Riddim Ryda Style
Chronixx – Another Youth
Collie Buddz – Brighter Days
Collie Buddz – Close To You
Collie Buddz – Hold Firm
Disun Future – Mama Africa
Disun Future – So No To Racism (Black Lives Matter)
Dre Island – Never Run Dry
Dre Z – Get Together
Dre Z – Praise His Name
Dre Z & Akae Beka – Loving Jah and Life
Dub FX – Fire Every Day
Dub FX – Transmission
Dub FX & Sahida Apsara – Pull Up
Etana – 100 On The Highway
Fikir Amlak & Go A Chant – Without A Doubt
Ginjah – Trying Times
I Wayne – Oxtail
I-Taweh – Danger Zone
I-Taweh – No Mediocre Vybz
Ikaya – All Woman
Ilements – Glory To The Most High
Inna Vision – Stick To Your Roots
Isaac Chambers & Dub Princess – Back To My Roots (Deep Fried Dub Refried Remix)
Jah Cure – Chatty Mouth
Jah Izrehl – Hop Off
Jah Tung – Warning
Jah Tung & The Natural Order – Slumber
Jah9 & Tarrus Riley – Ready to Play
Jeb Loy Nichols – To Be Rich
Joshua Hales – Crisis
Kabaka Pyramid – Trample Dem
Kabaka Pyramid – Black Liberation
Kabaka Pyramid – Stress Relief (Tun Up The Sound)
Kabaka Pyramid – Tribulation
Kabaka Pyramid – Love Mi Bad
Kaibanon – Fade Away
Kamrun & Collie Buddz – Planter’s Paradise
Keznamdi – Skyline Drive
Keznamdi – State of Emergency
Keznamdi & Mortimer – Bloodline
Late Ones – Babylon Exists
Late Ones – Brother’s Keeper
Lila Iké – Thy Will
Lila Iké – Stars Align
Lila Ike – I Spy
Lloyd Brown – The Usual Suspects
Lucky Daye, Chronixx, MediSun – Roll Some Mo (Remix)
Lutan Fyah – Mr Two Face
Lutan Fyah – Suspicious
Mackeehan – Government Yaad
Mackeehan – Rock and Come In
Mackeehan & Chevaughn – My Way
Marcus Gad – Cane and Cotton
Marcus Gad – Nature Like Scripture
Marcus Gad – Overcome
Marcus Gad – Rhythm of Serenity
Marcus Gad – Take Some Time
Marcus Gad & Blakkamore – InI Royal
Marvin Priest – Require
Marvin Priest – I Tried
Midnight Riders & Naram Rhythm Section – Yardie Skanking
Mitch – Just Chill Chill
Mitch – Place a Run Red
Monkey Marc – Positive Vibes
Monkey Marc, Yeza, Blvk H3ro, Turbulence – Rebel Code
Mpress Kandace – Be Strong
Mr Williamz & Chief Rockas – My Heavenz
Munga Honorable – Glory to the King
Naptali – Pure and Devine (Rob Smith remix)
Nga Han – Better Days
Nga Han – Blessed Is The Man
Nga Han & Roots Unity – Covering
Nga Han & Roots Unity – The Living Stream
Nga Han & Roots Unity – Nazarene
Nga Han & Roots Unity w The RAW Rhythm Section – Holy
Nga Han & The Hi-Flyers – Anew
Nga Han & The Hi-Flyers – One Drop Analogue Style
OBF & Aza Lineage – Rebel Daawtaz
OBF & Sr Wilson – Party Ram
Perfect Giddimani & Loud City – Social Splifftancing
Protoje & Lila Ike – In Bloom
Push Reggae Band – Corruption Talk
Rachel By The Stream – What You Gonna Do (Radio Mix)
Ras Attitude – Marijuana (We Ah Bun)
Ras Attitude – Please Mr Police
Ras Demo & Little Lion Sound – Bad Habits
Ras Fraser Jr – One Set A Artiste
RC – Suffering Too Long (Mama)
Richie Spice – Valley of Jehoshaphat (Red Hot)
Richie Spice & Dre Island – Murderer
Royal Blu – Without Love
Sazzy Alile – Youth
Stevie Face & Anthony B – One Prayer A Day
SumeRR – Old School
Torch – Crucial
Viktorious & Earl Cunningham – Hotstepper
XL Mad – Real Reggae Music
YT – Nuttin But The Rent

BEST OF 2020 DANCEHALLIf 2019 was the year that trap really started to influence dancehall in a big way, 2020 was the year that it really took over as the dominant sound. There were some retro-sounding “bashment” riddims of note (such as the “Loco” and “Blessed” riddims) but dancehall riddims on the whole have never sounded more like hip hop. While some dancehall purists hate it, I have no complaints personally (apart from the gulf between reggae and dancehall being so huge now that a lot of crowds here in Melbourne just can’t join the dots between the two sounds).

As mentioned above, my personal bias is much more evident in the countdown this year, with no local dances since March to help influence the listings with crowd favourites. This is noticeable not only stylistically, but also in terms of artist representation. The most notable omission from my list is Vybz Kartel – undoubtedly the biggest name in dancehall music for more than a decade now. Kartel was as busy as ever this year, and he definitely had hits – just none than connected with me personally enough to warrant inclusion in my top 25. I realise this will cause some to question the credibility of my list, but hey – this is Jesse I’s top 25, not an objective list of the biggest dancehall songs of the year. Similarly, Aidonia didn’t make it despite having some really strong tunes, and Popcaan only just snuck in. I think it’s also worth noting that Alkaline only had one entry on my countdown, despite being my favourite dancehall artist for quite a few years running – I feel like he lost the magic this year, and most of his output was underwhelming. My favourite dancehall artist for 2020 was actually the man who I rated the “most improved” artist of 2019 – Teejay. The Montego Bay based artist stepped it up again this year, and earned himself more time on my home and car stereos than any other.

The real surprise for me in 2020 was just how much the new breed dominated – in particular Skillibeng, who followed the success of last year’s hit “Brik Pan Brik” with hit pan hit, and Intence, who went from being virtually unknown outside of Jamaica to being one of the biggest names in the genre. If you told me in 2019 that Intence would have 6 songs in my top 25 for 2020, I’d think you were crazy – yet here we are. I still feel like his style is kind of weird, but somehow I still couldn’t stop playing him. His friend IWaata also deserves mention – he’s been around for a few years now, but he only really “buss” in 2020, and he’s another I didn’t expect to see in a top 25 countdown.

  1. Teejay – Guard Ring
  2. Koffee – Lockdown
  3. Kranium – Gal Policy
  4. Zerimar – Covid 19
  5. Intence – Grimey
  6. Alkaline – Cree
  7. Govana – Sleep
  8. Skillibeng – Fifty Bag
  9. IWaata – Press Ee
  10. Intence – Pull Up
  11. Intence – Through The Gate
  12. Teejay – Who You
  13. Intence – Antisocial
  14. Chronixx – Cool As The Breeze – Friday
  15. IWaata – Stay Real
  16. Chronic Law – Count My Blessings
  17. Mavado – Artillery
  18. Tarrus Riley & Shenseea – Lighter
  19. Skillibeng – Clean Everyday
  20. Intence – Yeng
  21. Intence – Authentic
  22. Buju Banton – Blessed
  23. Shenseea – Sure Sure
  24. Popcaan – Buzz
  25. Skillibeng – Brik Pan Brik (*2019 release)

Agent Sasco, Bounty Killer, Kabaka Pyramid – Loco (Remix)
Aidonia – Look
Aidonia – Mi Nuh Care
Aidonia – Peppa Sauce
Alandon – Antisocial
Alexx A-Game – Litty
Alkaline – Ocean Waves
Alkaline – Gladdest Night
Alkaline – High Props
Alkaline – Nah Fi Like
Alkaline – We Up
Bugle – Guide I
Buju Banton & Patoranking – Blessed (Remix)
Busy Signal – Dirt
Busy Signal – Blessings
Busy Signal – Do Mi Own Ting
Chino – The Process
Chronic Law – Don’t Rush
Chronic Law – Good Name
Chronic Law – Lock Down
Demarco – Fix Tings
Dexta Daps – Call Me If
Ding Dong – Watch A Style Yah
Ding Dong – Inside
Govana & Aidonia – Yeah Man
Govana – Hamant Convo
Govana – Hamant Convo pt 2
Hoodcelebrityy – Run Di Road
I Waata – Start It
Intence – Friday
Intence – Dawg Dem
Intence – Nuh Talk Long
Intence – Tears Dem Dry
IWaata – Clip Tall
IWaata – Dues
IWaata – Reebok
J Hus & Koffee – Repeat
Jada Kingdom – Yuh Betta (50 Bag Freestyle)
Jada Kingdom & Vybz Kartel – Heavy (Remix)
Jahmiel – Lava
Jahmiel – Shepherd
Jahmiel – The World
Jahvillani – Fire
Jahvillani – Kentucky
Jza King – Who Run Things
Kabaka Pyramid – Love Mi Bad
Kash – Antics
Kemar Highcon, Spice, Shaggy – So Saucy (Remix)
Lutan Fyah – Talking Parrot
Masicka – Better Days
Masicka – I Wish
Mavado – Enemy Line
Mr Vegas – Stay A Yuh Yard
Munga – Outside Again
Munga – Outside Postpone
Popcaan – Jealousy Die Slow
Popcaan – Mamakita
Popcaan, Stylo G, Dane Ray – Fresh Polo
Prince Akeem, Stylo G, Chezeeko, Showa Dali – Sterling (Remix)
Rygin King – Cautious
Rytical – My World
Shaneil Muir – Quick N Fast
Shaneil Muir – Yamabella
Shenseea – Bad Habit
Shenseea – Bad Alone
Skillibeng – Fear Not
Skillibeng – YK Dat Guh
Squash – Potus
Squash – Different Rankin
Squash – Still A Roam
Squash & Vybz Kartel – Skillful (Remix)
Squash, Vybz Kartel, Chronic Law – Money We Love
Stylo G – Bam Bam
Stylo G – Too Hot
Takeova – Alien Mode
Teejay – Henny and Big Spliff
Teejay – Give Thanks
Teejay – Internet Badness
Teejay – High Grade
Teejay – Expensive Style
Teejay – From Rags To Riches
Teejay – Suh Di Badness Guh
Teejay – Want Party
Twani & Skillibeng – Honda (Remix)
Vybz Kartel – Thickiana
Vybz Kartel – Sociopath
Vybz Kartel – Yami Bolo
Vybz Kartel – World Government
Vybz Kartel – Skate
Vybz Kartel & Sikka Rymes – Gaza Run The World
Vybz Kartel & Teejay – Big Bizniz
Zagga – New Hail (Carona)
Zagga & Kabaka Pyramid – Jamaica Wah Gwaan
Zerimar – Arima

Songs that didn’t fit comfortably into either the reggae or dancehall countdown but deserve mention.

5 Star Celestial – The Wire
Aidonia – Numero Uno
Chronic Law – Anointed
Chronic Law – Fake Sentence
Devin Di Dakta – Dear Hon Bro Gad
Jahmiel & Bugle – Signs Of The Times
Jaz Elise & Govana – Fresh and Clean
Jelliss – Watch Dem Stumble
Kabaka Pyramid – Never Trod Alone
Kabaka Pyramid & Damian Marley – Kontraband pt 2
Kash – Oh Lord part 2
Popcaan – Friends and Family
Runkus, Jesse Royal, Royal Blu, Kabaka Pyramid, Munga Honorable – 5Gs
Rygin King – Ruption
Shane O – Appreciation
Shane O – Menace
Skillibeng – Torpedo
Skillibeng – Mr Universe
Skillibeng & Pop Smoke – Dior (remix)
Teejay – Day One
Turbo, Gunna, Skillibeng, Kranium – Quarantine Clean (remix)
Wasp & Vybz Kartel – Vybz Kartel

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