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Chronixx Smile Jamaica

Top 10 songs about Jamaica (Independence edition)

BY: Jodee Brown

Over our long history as an independent nation, Jamaica has ascended in musical relevancy worldwide, through the smoothness of Reggae to the edginess of Dancehall, enhancing the country’s appeal and culture in the process and influencing the world to add elements of our founding genres into their own music.

These genres have also allowed for our musicians to promote the ever-growing ‘Brand Jamaica’ worldwide, encouraging tourists about the many wonders of our beautiful island. However, some also point to the harsh economic and societal realities Jamaica continues to deal with on a daily basis, painting a balance picture of what the country is all about. With the black, green and gold about to celebrate its 52nd birthday this weekend, here’s a list of 10 hit songs about Jamaica that contain one or both of these elements.

Roy Rayon10. Roy Rayon – Give Thanks and Praises: Regarded as the king of festival music, Roy Rayon has always been brimming with passion and care about his homeland and it was this passion that was on display for his classic single, Give Thanks and Praises.

The song was originally done in 1987 to celebrate Jamaica’s 25th anniversary, simply imploring on its people to give appreciation for the progress Jamaica has made as a nation, singing, “Give thanks and praises, We are 25, Though the road was rocky and the hills were steep, Still we survive, We put we faith and trust in the Father, Who’s keeping us alive, So give thanks and praises. We are 25.”

When Jamaica’s 50th anniversary came around, Rayon decided to slightly tweak Give Thanks and Praises for the celebrations, changing ‘We are 25,’ to ‘We are Still Alive,’ which we very much are. Music lovers still get up for this song which combines elements of Reggae and Gospel and has always been one of the signature songs repeatedly played at this time of year.

Tony  Rebel Sweet Jamaica9. Tony Rebel – Sweet Jamaica: While at the peak of his powers, Reggae legend, Tony Rebel penned this ringing endorsement of Jamaica, Land We Love which described many of our natural essences to the world.

While this song really allowed listeners to embrace what makes our island special, it also perfectly plays to both aforementioned elements. These lyrics from the song pretty much sum it up.

What a nice place fi live, sweet Jamdown, the only problem is, dollars nah run…Now with the money inna you pocket and God inna you heart…Crowd of people, what more you want…Reggae music a play…Reggae artists a chant, a yah so me born and me nah transplant.”

Though Jamaica is known for its great Reggae sound, beautiful beaches and warmth of its people, the reality then (and now) was that the economy was struggling due to the decline of our dollar. However, despite our increasing levels of poverty, we Jamaicans always find a way to m

ake the most of our situation. Thus, for any tourists hoping to visit us, regardless of our situation, you’ll never be bored when roaming in sweet Jamdown.

Alborosie Kingston Town8. Alborosie – Kingston Town: Though born in Italy, Alborosie long had an affinity for Reggae music and ventured into the genre while in his homeland before relocating to Kingston in 2001.

While in Jamaica, he got a real taste of what the island was all about, leading him to pen the hit single, Kingston Town. This song, released in 2008, spoke more explicitly about the harsh realities of living in Jamaica’s capital city, speaking of crime and the drug game that unfortunately continues to permeate its inner cities.

The second verse of this track, for example, gives a very blunt, yet accurate assessment. “Dis a di gun land, Blood run cold pon di white sand, Concrete a bun put some pads up your chin, Ba-Babylon boy dem kill a youth an one old woman a chant some, An’ while a neck sit a monster di rat-ta-ta-tan-ta, Dem dig more grave than rooms up-a Hilton, Small community get wash up by a blood stain, Every weekend same routine with new function, Pusher dem count more dead than 9/11 destruction, ey!”

Now of course, Kingston isn’t all bad in the least (I was born there, so I know), but Kingston Town showcased that while the city has many great landmarks and things to offer, it also is a hub to some of the problems that still haunt the country.

Busy Signal Born and Grow7. Busy Signal – Born and Grow: A Dancehall version of a popular Reggae song by Eric Donaldson you’ll see later on this list, Born and Grow was one of the first songs to put Busy Signal on the map.

This song was another great example of illustrating the contrasts that persist throughout Jamaica as Busy sings, “Mek mi tell yuh bout weh mi born & grow, Jamaica loose beach weh mi born & grow, Pretty girls pretty beach weh mi born & grow, Tourist waan fi reach weh mi born & grow, Some police dem a ginnal weh mi born & grow, Some a real criminal weh mi born & grow, Di system a kill mi weh mi born & grow, Still mi nah leave, fi go live inna nuh snow cause.”

This was one of the few great Dancehall songs that really talked about Jamaica with such fluency and balance, talking about the hardships of the inner city plus the food, women and musical influences that Jamaica possesses; a must listen to this day.


Jah Cure Jamaica6. Jah Cure – Jamaica: Scintillating instrumentals, smooth lyrics and a vibe painting the picture of paradise; all elements for a perfect song about Jamaica. These things made Jah Cure’s single, Jamaica one of the highlights of his classic album, True Reflections and can only exude positive feelings about the island when listening to it.

“Looking for a place to have a perfect vacation, or even a honeymoon, I know the place to make the perfect reservation, come let me take you there soon, yeah, to a place called Jamaica, where the island is in the sun.” Don’t these lyrics sound like something straight out of a Jamaica Tourist Board commercial? The song would certainly reel in foreigners will the calm, free-flowing vibe it presents, proving how great of a getaway destination Jamaica is.

The food, climate and sunshine are all highlighted, making for an ideal formula for a song about JA.



Voices of Sweet Jamaica5. Mr. Vegas + Friends – Sweet Jamaica (Remix): Dancehall superstar, Mr. Vegas hit the jackpot in 2012 with his single, Sweet Jamaica, in which he highlighted the best of the island, topping charts for his efforts.

With Jamaica celebrating its 50th anniversary, Vegas decided to do one better and called on a slew on Reggae and Dancehall stars to collaborate with him for a remix of the song simply titled, The Voices of Sweet Jamaica. Some of those greats included Shaggy, Barrington Levy, Ce’Cile, Beenie Man, Cocoa Tea, Josey Wales, Marcia Griffiths and many more.

These all-stars take turns describing the many things to admire about this cherished island, from the beaches, to the Reggae music, to the comraderie of the people as it allows tourists to really appreciate the benefits our country offers while giving us a chance to embrace some of the things our people often take for granted. This a song that will surely get its share of spins this Independence Day and beyond.

Bob Marley Smile Jamaica4. Bob Marley and The Wailers – Smile Jamaica: One of the original endorsements of our island came from the man who truly put our country on the map worldwide, Robert Nesta Marley. His 1976 single, Smile Jamaica embodied happiness and peace, helping fans all around the world further appreciate him and the country he helped rise to universal prominence while still in its early years.

The song, however, holds added historical significance considering the fact Marley was shot several times following an ambush at his Hope Road home, just two days before being scheduled to perform his Smile Jamaica concert at National Heroes Park. Despite his injuries, he performed a near two-hour long set, his last performance before fleeing to London in exile due to fears for his safety.

Since then, the song continues to dominate pop culture, to the point that Television Jamaica (TVJ) named its morning talk show in honour of the song and an artist who features later on this list took the concept and improved on it ever further. Now that’s the mark of a true legend.


Damian Marley Welcome of Jamrock3. Damian Marley – Welcome To Jamrock: Some still regard this as the best song ever produced by Jr. Gong as one of the many music-toting sons of Bob Marley created this gem in 2005 that not only elevated his own stock, but the island’s as well.

This song was one of the most realistic portrayals of Jamaica to the world stage. Just look on part of second verse as evidence.

“Welcome to Jamdown, poor people a dead at random, political violence, can’t done! Pure ghost and phantom, the youth dem get blind by stardom, Now the Kings Of Kings a call, Old man to Pickney, so wave unno hand if you with me, To see the sufferation sicken me, Them suit no fit me, to win election them trick we, Den them don’t do nuttin at all.”

One of the reasons this song still has the relevance it does to this day is because all of what he spoke reigns true today; the political corruption, lack of educational and job opportunities for ghetto youths and turning to crime should those opportunities not present themselves. Welcome To Jamrock helped propel his album of the same name to Grammy-winning status for the second time in 2006 and is regarded as one of the best songs of the new millennium to come out of Jamaica; deservedly so at that.


Eric Donaldson Land of my Birth2. Eric Donaldson – Land of my Birth: There’s a reason many were calling on this song to be the official Jamaica 50 song two years ago.

Land of My Birth (My Jamaica) is regarded by many as the greatest festival song of all time due to its messages of dedication and admiration of the island appreciated by so many around the world, that we sometimes take for granted and not leave at the first sign of trouble.

Its first verse emphasized those points. “I will never leave her shores, I will never run away, I will always believe in the black, the green, the gold I say, All nations greater of all the trials, we must face the test of time, that our people they are strong and we going to get along, For some people say we poor, but the progress you make my friend is not always how rich you are.”

There are songs that just describe, but when you listen to Land of My Birth, it’s like you can feel that what he is saying is true to his heart and music lovers can’t help eliciting those same emotions and feelings. This song is timeless and will forever be associated with Jamaica’s ‘Emancependence’ celebrations for as long as we exist. However, there is one song that takes the cake when it comes to perfectly describing our island’s worth.

Chronixx Smile Jamaica1. Chronixx – Smile Jamaica:  This song is barely over a year old, but if there were any doubts about the legitimacy of Chronixx’s potential as an international superstar, Smile Jamaica quelled said doubts as this song covers every basic associated with our beautiful island.

Though it somewhat builds on Bob Marley’s original tune, as previously mentioned, Chronixx scored big time with his concept of comparing Jamaica to a beautiful woman that possesses so much to appreciate, but been through her rigors and sometimes undervalued by many of the people that she comes across.

Just let this verse from the song sink in. “She have a rich history, A beautiful woman with the sweetest gifts, Beautiful sunrise and an evening kiss, Of a nice sunset in the evening seas, But she tell me say she tired, Tired of the exploit and the liars, She give them reggae, give them beaches, Give them flowers and the ferns, And all she got is abuse in return.”

You couldn’t describe Jamaica any better than that. For a country that’s produced the Marleys, Usain Bolt and so many picturesque sights to behold, our people have often looked at Jamaica with the glass half empty and have either ignored or flat out underrated the many gifts our country presents. Sure, the economy is in turmoil and poverty is rife, but Jamaica has lots to offer, as Chronixx describe succinctly in a very unique and intelligent way. Heck, for the next major anniversary, I would suggest we make Smile Jamaica our Independence song. It’s too good not to consider it.


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Pon Di Gaza Mi Sey

Vybz Kartel, Konshens make provisional list for Best Reggae Album Grammy

Incarcerated Dancehall superstar, Vybz Kartel has something to smile about today as one of his most recent compilations has been nominated for music’s highest honor.

Vybz Kartel’s Pon Di Gaza Mi Sey album, released in October 2011, is one of 50 projects on the provisional shortlist for the Best Reggae Album award at next year’s Grammys in Los Angeles. Pon Di Gaza Mi Sey, released a month after Kartel’s arrest on drug and subsequent murder charges, features many of Kartel’s hits dating back to 2008.

Some of the songs on Pon Di Gaza Mi Sey include Virginity (Versatility), Like a Movie, Get Wild, Life We Living and the controversial track, Romping Shop (featuring Spice).

Another embattled Dancehall megastar, Busy Signal has also been nominated for his album, Reggae Music Again, which features hits like Kingston Town, Come Over and the CD’s title track, Reggae Music Again.

Busy, who also scored strong collaborations with Damian Marley (Kingston Town Remix) and Grammy-winning American rock band, No Doubt (Push and Shove) will be released from a Minnesota prison in less than two weeks after completing his six month sentence for absconding bail during a drug case.

Other notables on the Best Reggae Album shortlist include Konshens, who has been torching the music scene this year with his debut album, Mental Maintenance, which features tracks likeDo Sumn, Simple Song, Gal Dem a Talk and She’s Happy. Additionally, past Best Reggae Album winners such as Sean Paul (Tomahawk Technique), Toots Hibbert (Reggae Got Soul: Unplugged) and Jimmy Cliff (Rebirth) scored nominations while Mr. Vegas also appears on the shortlist for his successful double disc, Sweet Jamaica.

The 50 nominees for Best Reggae Album will be trimmed to five (or six) finalists when the full list of next year’s nominees are announced on December 5 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The 55th annual Grammy Awards will take place at the same venue on February 10, 2013.

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New pictures, texts emerge in ongoing Vegas saga

Just when everyone thought the drama involving Dancehall superstar, Mr. Vegas and his baby’s mother, Shellian McBayne had subsided, visual evidence has now emerged to add more controversy to this high-profile scandal.

A war of words played out last week between Mr. Vegas and McBayne after the entertainer claimed that he caught his baby’s mother sleeping with another man in his home. Vegas, who went on a day-long Twitter tirade about what he witnessed, also alleged that McBayne committed this act in front of their one-year-old daughter, a claim that the entertainer’s baby mother firmly denied.

The drama then spewed into the mainstream media where McBayne blasted Vegas in an interview with prominent talk show host, Kingsley ‘Ragashanti’ Stewart, insisting that the Bruk It Dung singer was unfaithful during their relationship and that she did not cheat on him given that they were broken up at the time of this most recent incident. Mr. Vegas quickly retorted on an interview with New York radio station, HOT 97, where he revealed that McBayne got married in the United States behind his back in an attempt to obtain citizenship in the United States while expressing fears over being able to see his daughter again, given that he has no legal rights to her as a result of the baby being born in wedlock overseas.

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‘No Jamaican shows right about now,’ says Mr. Vegas

Jamaican fans may be made to wait for a while before they see internationally acclaimed Dancehall/Reggae singer, Mr. Vegas performs on a local stage show.

Following a shortened set at the Miami-based Best of the Best stage show on Memorial Day weekend, Vegas has seemingly decided to be more selective with which types of shows he’ll be perfoming on going forward. During a recent interview on CVM TV’s D’Wrap, the veteran singjay revealed that he won’t be gracing a local show anytime soon.

“No Jamaican shows right about now. If you wanna see me in Jamaica, you see me at any show or one a dem show deh. Di Jamaican people dem understand. I want to perform my song dem and sometimes some of these show doh mek yuh perform what yuh want to perform. It’s just simple as that,” he said.

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Mr Vegas

Mr. Vegas’ Sweet Jamaica nabs top 10 Billboard spot

Internationally acclaimed Dancehall/Reggae singjay, Mr. Vegas has scored another spot on the American Billboard charts with his latest project, Sweet Jamaica.

The much talked about double album earned the seventh slot on the U.S. Billboard Reggae Charts after its official release on May 29.  This achievement marks Vegas’ fourth appearance on the Billboard charts as his MOBO Award winning 1998 album, Heads High peaked at number five while his sophomore album, Damn Right debuted at number two in 2001.

He then followed that up with a top 15 slot for his effort, Hot It Up in 2007, which peaked at number 11 on the prestigious chart.

Sweet Jamaica, released via Vegas’ MV Music label contains both Dancehall and Reggae elements as the singjay aims to satisfy fans of both genres. The double disc features collaborations with prominent Jamaican acts such as Shaggy, Luciano, Josey Wales, Jovi Rockwell and Marcia Griffiths.

The Reggae portion of Sweet Jamaica features its title track which sees Vegas join forces with the aforementioned Shaggy and Mr. Vegas while the Dancehall side of his compilation features some of his most recent hits such as Certain Law, Bruk It Down and a live version of his 2008 hit, I’m So Blessed.


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Mr. Vegas claims he has not enjoyed his career

Prominent Dancehall artiste, Mr. Vegas has a very accomplished resume most artistes would dream of showcasing. However, the veteran singjay doesn’t seem to revel in his consistent success.

Mr. Vegas will unveil his sixth career studio album, Sweet Jamaica on March 6; a double disc CD filled with Reggae and Dancehall-themed singles which speak on all sorts on issues. As he prepares to unleash his latest effort, Vegas has made a startling admission; insisting he hasn’t enjoyed the pros and cons of his 16 years as a Dancehall artiste.

During a radio interview on Wednesday night, Mr. Vegas stated that the many pressures and burdens which accompany the music industry have taken a toll on him in recent times.

“It is just difficult sometimes…stuff that people just come at you with; sometimes you just want to get away, sometimes yuh jus wan’ go live under a rock,” he said.

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Mr. Vegas takes over New York as he promotes “Sweet Jamaica” album

The Big Apple feels more like the Land of Wood and Water now that international music star Mr. Vegas has New York City rocking to the sounds of Sweet Jamaica. With stellar unplugged performances at Lincoln Center Theatre and Miss Lily’s Variety in Greenwich Village, anticipation is high for the release of his double album, Sweet Jamaica. Celebrating the evolution of Jamaica’s rich sound in honor of the Island’s 50th Anniversary, Sweet Jamaica will hit stores and digital outlets on March 6.

Mr. Vegas, accompanied by only his backup singers and guitarist Tony Bone, debuted tracks from Sweet Jamaica Reggae to packed house of media and recording industry vets at Miss Lily’s Variety earlier this month. A musical experience that was dubbed “magical” by renowned music journalist and host Rob Kenner, Mr. Vegas performed brand new singles like Alive and Well and paid homage to Reggae pioneers with original songs like Roses In My Garden set to the music of Ska legend Eric Donaldson’s Cherry Oh Baby and Things Ruff to the tune of iconic Reggae singer Jimmy Cliff’s You Can Get It If You Really Want.

The following week Mr. Vegas was center stage at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theatre, performing to a sold-out crowd during the New York City premiere of acclaimed Jamaican film Better Mus’ Come. Sponsored by LargeUp.com, in collaboration of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Imagenation, Mr. Vegas brought down the house with another acoustic set from Sweet Jamaica Reggae. One of the shows many highlights was an impromptu dance party with members of the audience during his rendition of Toots & the Maytals classic, Sweet & Dandy.

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Mr. Vegas to unveil double album during Reggae month

Jamaican-born International music star, Mr. Vegas fetes his homeland’s golden anniversary with a brand new double album that explores the past 50 years in Jamaican music.

Sweet Jamaica will be released in February; Jamaica’s national Reggae Month and features a range of music from the roots of Ska in the early 1960’s through the birth of Reggae and into today’s contemporary Dancehall-driven pop music culture. Sweet Jamaica will be released to digital and retail stores under his independently-owned MV Music imprint on Tuesday, February 21st.

The two discs, Sweet Jamaica Reggae and Sweet Jamaica Dancehall together feature over 30 tracks, including exclusive new material and some of Mr. Vegas’ recent smash singles. Sweet Jamaica Reggae is a fusion of Ska, Rocksteady, and foundation Reggae rhythms. Known for melodious style of deejaying or rapping Mr. Vegas’ abandons his usual ‘sing-jay’ mode and shows off his singing talent on remakes of Toots and the Maytals’ classic, Sweet and Dandy, and Alton Ellis’ Rocksteady cover of Brenda Holloway’s You Make Me Happy.

Sweet Jamaica Dancehall features Mr. Vegas’ typically energetic Dancehall delivery on recent Dancehall hits including the current dance-driven club banger Bruk It Down, the street anthem Certain Law and Beautiful Life. Sweet Jamaica Dancehall also includes a live version of his internationally acclaimed gospel-flavored single, I Am Blessed.

Sweet Jamaicais the best of Jamaican music – from the foundation until now. Jamaica celebrates 50 years of Independence this year, and I want to celebrate that by showcasing 50 years of Reggae,” says Clifford “Mr. Vegas” Smith.

“I am releasing this album in February, which is the month we celebrate Reggae in Jamaica and Black History in America. Reggae is such an important part of what makes Jamaica unique, it is our signature sound and Reggae is key part of our culture and our Jamaican brand. Reggae figures like Bob Marley and Dennis Brown – who were both born in February – are important figures in music history in the United States and throughout the world.”

Sweet Jamaica’s lead single, aptly titled Sweet Jamaica, hit #1 on Reggae charts in Europe and the United States last year, while the video peaked at #1 on the MTV BASE Dancehall Video chart.  The album’s second release, Certain Law also spent several weeks at #1 on the MTV BASE charts. Teairra Mari, Shaggy, Luciano, Nadine Sutherland, and Jovi Rockwell are among the list of musical guests on Sweet Jamaica.

MOBOaward-winning artist, Mr. Vegas, has been one of Jamaica’s leading international forces since his entry into the music industry in 1997. Over the past 15 years, he has built an extensive catalogue which includes Billboard charting hits, Heads High and Pull Up and urban radio bangers, Tek Weh Yuhself, Hot Wuk and Gallis. Sweet Jamaica is his fifth studio album.

Sweet Jamaicawill be released independently by Mr. Vegas’ MV Music label on Tuesday, February 21st. Production credits include Clifford “Mr. Vegas” Smith,  Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare, Cleveland “Clevie” Brown and Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson, Mikey Bennet, and Rohan Dwyer.

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Video: Sweet Jamaica - Mr. Vegas, Shaggy, Josey Wales  - Click to watch

Video: Sweet Jamaica – Mr. Vegas, Shaggy, Josey Wales

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