Reggae and dancehall were a huge influence on the emerging hip hop scene in New York during late seventies and early eighties. Kingston born Kool Herc pioneered rapping in the big apple, something which Jamaican DJ’s back home had been doing under the name of ‘toasting’ since the late sixties. Jamaican sound system street parties, where DJs were favoured over live music, were a precursor to the Bronx block parties where breakdancing was born.
This 2 cd set from Soul Jazz Records documents the influence that hip hop subsequently had on dancehall during the early nineties. After the success of rap music in the eighties, major labels were keen to sign up Jamaican-descended dancehall artists with the potential to crossover and achieve mainstream success; the ubiquitous example being Shaggy, whose dancehall reworking of “Oh Carolina” went gold in 1993.
Big names are pulled together with many lesser known artists, but all the tunes included are bouncy, riddim driven, and bass heavy; perfect for party dance floors. My personal favourites are Nikey Fungus’s “Zig Zag Stitch,” where sewing is used as a thinly veiled sexual euphemism over a ridiculously catchy dancehall groove, and the Fu-Schnickens hip hop update of Tenor Saw’s classic “Ring the Alarm.” The album’s weakness is in its lyrics, which to be fair is a criticism that can be laid at the dancehall genre as a whole. I can’t imagine Super C wooing too many women when describing himself as “a rat waiting to be caught by your pussy cat”!