But in celebrating the best of the best, separating the tangled ingredients that make dancehall so consistently brilliant—a fearless approach to sexuality, an experimental approach to sound technology, a military approach to lyrical wordplay, a joyful approach to resistance—is like cutting open the drum to see what makes it go bang. Dancehall became a subgenre distinct from other styles of reggae around , a time in Jamaica when deejays equivalent to stateside MCs were becoming as prominent as singers. Each attempts to fortify their position with higher walls of custom-built speaker boxes. Song selections are delivered with taunting microphone commentary in a war of words—something like a cross between a hip-hop DJ battle and a playground game. Some soundsystems are also record labels, and may bring affiliated singers or deejays to represent them.
Sign In. Bam Bam. Sister Nancy.
Dancehall is a genre of Jamaican popular music that originated in the late s. Key elements of dancehall music include its extensive use of Jamaican Patois rather than Jamaican standard English and a focus on the track instrumentals or " riddims ". Dancehall saw initial mainstream success in Jamaica in the s, and by the s, it became increasingly popular in Jamaican diaspora communities. In the s, dancehall experienced worldwide mainstream success, and by the s, it began to heavily influence the work of established Western artists and producers, which has helped to further bring the genre into the Western music mainstream. Dancehall is named after Jamaican dance halls in which popular Jamaican recordings were played by local sound systems. They began in the late s among people from the inner city of Kingston , who were not able to participate in dances uptown.
Take a listen to the 50 best Dancehall songs of all time, as selected by the Pitchfork team. Photo: Pitchfork. Bam Bam. Sister Nancy. One Two.