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Top 10 international collaborations involving Dancehall artists

There is no denying Dancehall’s influence on the international landscape since its emergence as a popular genre in the late 80s. Its catchy, up-tempo sound made it a hit with music lovers, especially those who had already been exposed to Reggae music’s pleasantries in decades previous.

Once Dancehall’s popularity took off thanks to acts such as Shabba Ranks, Supercat and Buju Banton to name a few, the genre’s sound not only attracted new fans, but garnered attention from the ears of prominent international entertainers who either yearned to add a bit of spice to their song by using said sound or just wanted to introduce themselves to a new audience. This allowed new avenues for Dancehall to break out as an international phenomenon and over the years, we’ve seen a plethora of instances where Jamaican artists mesh with overseas stars in an attempt to become famous in unfamiliar territory.

With that said, here are 10 instances where that mesh worked, whether to the tune of commercial success or simply became instant classics in the minds of listeners. These instances do not include mash-ups or unofficial remixes, but legitimate collaborations.

 

Jay Z and Mavado10. On The Rock (Remix) – Mavado feat. Jay Z: In 2008, Mavado could seemingly do no wrong as his star became brighter and brighter following the success of his debut album, Gangster for Life: The Symphony of David Brooks and was in the middle of a hot feud with former Alliance teammate, Vybz Kartel.

People outside of Jamaica became familiar with him following hits such as Dying, Dreaming and Last Night. But his international portfolio never really started being filled until he landed a big collaboration with rap mogul, Jay Z for the remix of his single, On The Rock.

Jay Z’s presence on the gospel-themed Dancehall track made it stand out much further than the original version, gaining regular rotation on American radio stations, a feature on MTV and chart success, officially meaning Mavado had arrived in the U.S. market. Now a member of DJ Khaled’s We The Best Music Group, collaborations with rappers have become very common for him, including ones with Nicki Minaj, Akon and Ace Hood. But it was his linkup with Jay Z that made the singjay a known commodity in the good ole U.S of A.

Kat DeLuna Elephant Man9. Whine Up – Kat Deluna feat. Elephant Man: By 2007, Elephant Man was already a big thing internationally with hits such as Pon Di River and made his mark in the American market collaborating with the likes of Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, Twista and Janet Jackson on some high-profile remixes, even signing a deal with P Diddy’s Bad Boy Records.

However, the Willie Bounce singer’s most commercially successful single with an international artist was his song with Kat DeLuna, a then 19-year-old American singer with Dominican roots. Whine Up, DeLuna’s debut single, reached the top 25 of several Billboard charts and became a smash hit that played on Jamaican and North American airwaves ad nauseum, launching her into instant fame and further building Elephant Man into an international sensation. Because of Elephant Man’s happy-go-lucky, high tempo sound, the Energy God became a name many international artists were all too happy to call to feature on their songs, making him one of the more accomplished Jamaican acts in the U.S. market to date.

Sugar Ray Fly8. Fly – Sugar Ray feat. Supercat: With a wave of Dancehall acts making instant waves international with their local hits, American records quickly expressed interest as Columbia Records did with the original ‘Don Dada’ Supercat in the early 90s.

Landing such a deal helped him to expand his resume, with standout achievements on said resume including a collaboration with the late, great Notorious B.I.G, P Diddy and 3rd Eye for the remix of his single, Dolly My Baby as well as Dem No Worry We with the late Heavy D. However, it was his feature on Fly by popular rock band, Sugar Ray that was his most successful international collaboration, with the single topping Billboard’s Hot 100 Airplay and Canada’s singles chart.

The song was included in VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s and was one of Supercat’s last mainstream recordings for many years, but remains arguably his most fruitful

Busy Signal Bumaye7. Watch Out For This – Major Lazer feat. Busy Signal: Having broken out on the scene with hardcore Dancehall roots, becoming more of a Reggae crooner by the end of the 2000s, with One More Night and Night Shift.

However, after serving prison time in the U.S. for absconding bail on a drug case, Busy Signal needed that one song to put him over the top as an international force once again. Enter fusion specialists, Major Lazer, who reached out to Busy to be the lead vocalist for their song Watch out for This (Bumaye).

Though the song achieved somewhat limited success on the major American charts (28th on Billboard’s U.S. Dance/Electronic Songs chart, it was a smash hit worldwide, particularly in Europe, where the song became platinum in Denmark, while making the top 10 in Belgium, France and Holland to name a few places. The song also became the background music for a Pepsi commercial featuring Argentine football megastar, Lionel Messi. This was undoubtedly Busy’s biggest commercial success to date.

Cham and Alicia Keys6. Ghetto Story (Remix) – Cham feat. Alicia Keys: A former protégé of Bounty Killer in the late 90s, Cham found his biggest hit to date in 2005 with the inner-city anthem, Ghetto Story.

With buzz from the single still strong several months after its release, Cham opted to merge his rough-edge sound with the sweet, soft sound of Grammy-winning singer, Alicia Keys for the remix. The pairing reaped immediate success with the remix, reaching number 77 on the Billboard Hot 100, with the accompanying video being featured heavily on BET and MTV, giving Cham unprecedented exposure.

 

 

 

 

Busta Rhymes and Sean Paul5. Make It Clap (Remix) Busta Rhymes, Spliff Star and Sean Paul – Perhaps no Dancehall artist has collaborated with more international acts since the turn of the millennium than Sean Paul, with the Gimme The Light singer becoming a hot commodity overseas after his sophomore album, Dutty Rock became multi-platinum and earned him the Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 2004.

A year earlier, Sean Paul appeared on the remix for Busta Rhymes’ single, Make It Clap. After the original song failed to garner much attention, the Jamaican-born Rhymes decided to tap into his roots for the remix, calling on Sean Paul to add that ‘rude boy’ touch to the more party-themed version of the song.

Results were solid, as the remix peaked at number 46 in the Billboard Hot 100 and became a fixture on North American television and radio airwaves, becoming one of the biggest party anthems that year. As we found out later that year, this was not the only hit international collaboration he would land.

Gwen Stefani and Bounty Killer4. Hey Baby – No Doubt feat. Bounty Killer: Already with a hit collaboration alongside The Fugees (Hip-Hopera) to his name, Bounty Killer was already universally recognized as one of the best Dancehall artists of all-time by the time 2001 rolled around. Looking for a ‘yardie’ touch to its aptly-titled album, Rock Steady, No Doubt called upon the services of the Alliance leader for the single, Hey Baby.

The lead single on Rock Steady peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and later won the Grammy award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, leaving Bounty with his first and only Grammy to date. He and No Doubt even performed the song at the Super Bowl in 2002.

This wasn’t the only time Gwen Stefani collaborated with great success alongside a Dancehall star. More on that later.

 

 

Beenie Man and Mya3. Girls Dem Sugar – Beenie Man feat. Mya: In 1997, Beenie Man landed a major hit with the chart-topping classic, Sim Simma, which continues to permeate through the Dancehall landscape to this day.

With the song’s shelf-life still very healthy by the year 2000, Beenie Man teamed up with sexy R&B songstress, Mya for the international remake of the single, Girls Dem Sugar. The song earned modest Billboard success and peaked at 13 on the UK Singles Chart, with the video instantly becoming a fixture on BET, MTV and other American music stations.

The Neptunes-produced song’s success helped Beenie land a Reggae Grammy for Art and Life in 2001, further validating his status as one of Dancehall’s hottest commodities and building bridges for younger artists to cross as the years passed by.

Underneath It All2. Underneath It All – No Doubt feat. Lady Saw: After finding success with Hey Baby, No Doubt dipped into the Dancehall well again by collaborating with another hardcore Dancehall legend, the Queen of Dancehall, Lady Saw on the classic track, Underneath It All.

Gwen Stefani’s sultry, soft vocals mixed with Lady Saw’s strong, powerful tone made for a perfect joint effort, leading to Underneath It All peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping Billboard’s pop songs chart. The ska meets rock and roll sound made for a nice melody, and The Recording Academy agreed, awarding the duo with the Grammy for Grammy award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 2004. It also featured in the popular movie, 50 First Dates and got heavy rotation on American radio station.

Sean Paul and Beyonce1. Baby Boy – Beyoncé feat. Sean Paul: There’s no doubt as to what number one on this list was going to be, considering Baby Boy is the most commercially successful collaboration involving a Dancehall artist ever.

Launching her solo career after starring for several years as the lead singer for Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé found much success with her booty-shaking debut single, Crazy in Love. However, many would argue the song that really launched her to universal fame was her collaboration with Sean Paul on the single Baby Boy. Beyoncé’s scintillating sound needed that ideal contrast in tone to help the song truly resonate with music lovers and with Sean Paul very much in demand at the time for his edgier sound, she found the perfect collaborator.

Mixing Dancehall, Arabic and R&B influences, Baby Boy instantly grabbed top spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and stayed there for nine straight weeks, later being certified platinum in the United States and Australia and was named one of the greatest songs of the 2000s was VH1.

Sean Paul never saw such success with a single before or since, despite being one of Jamaica’s highest ever selling artists. Not only did the song launch Beyoncé’s career into orbit, but made Sean Paul the crossover superstar he is today.

 

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Tessanne soars to top six on ‘The Voice’

Tessanne Chin Top 6Jamaican songstress, Tessanne Chin continues to reinvent herself and her sound with each passing show, and her transformational efforts were once again rewarded as she advanced into the top six of NBC’s hit talent show, The Voice Tuesday night after once again tapping into her roots by performing a chart-topping Reggae fusion classic.

Chin moves on along with fellow Team Adam mates, Wil Champlin and James Wolpert, leaving Adam Levine as the only coach with all of his protégés still alive in the round. Cole Vosbury of Team Blake (coached by Blake Shelton)and Jacqueline Lee of Team Christina (coached by Christina Aguilera) also advanced through the initial round of votes while Lee’s teammate, Matthew Schuler moved on thanks to the ‘instant save’ feature.

This meant Ray Boudreaux (Team Blake) and show favorite, Caroline Pennell (Team Cee’Lo) were sent home, the latter’s elimination leaving coach, Cee’Lo Green with no more artists on his team.

Having shown off her versatility by mastering Reggae, pop and soul music, Tessanne Chin dipped into the sound which made her a star in Jamaica in the mid-2000s, going Reggae fusion with Underneath It All, the Grammy-winning single by rock band, No Doubtand the ‘Queen of Dancehall,’ Lady Saw.

Monday night’s performance allowed viewers to witness Tessanne in her most natural element, singing a smooth higher-pitched version of Gwen Stefani’s spots in the song before deejaying Lady Saw’s part and moving her hips, showcasing a pure island style of performing. Christina Aguilera in particular pointed this out in her assessment of Tessanne’s stellar performance, saying she finally saw who she truly was in her musical element.

Intensity will surely be at an all-time high next week on The Voice as the top six vie for four spots on next week Monday’s live show, which means Tessanne and her compatriots will have to step up their games much higher to guarantee a spot on the penultimate show of season five.

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Lady Saw to be inducted into Caribbean Hall of Fame

The recently crowned Queen of Dancehall can add yet another title to her illustrious résumé as she will be inducted in the Caribbean Hall of Fame.

Lady Saw was selected for the award by the Committee of the Caribbean Development for the Arts, Sports and Culture Foundation, in conjunction with the Caribbean Community for her near two decades of contributions to the music industry.

This honor comes over five months after officially being crowned the Queen of Dancehall during her typically electrifying performance at this year’s edition of Reggae Sumfest.

In a statement issued by the foundation’s executive director, Garnett Reid, he intimated that, “The foundation’s aim is to recognize individuals who have contributed significantly to the development of arts, sports and culture in the Caribbean and to encourage the natural genius of our people to reach the highest level.”

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Lady Saw distancing herself from fellow female deejays

Legendary Dancehall superstar, Lady Saw has put her female contemporaries on notice as the prominent deejay insists that she’s separating herself from other Dancehall divas following recent controversy.

Several weeks ago, Lady Saw gave an interview on TVJ’s Entertainment Report (ER) in which she allegedly stated that no current female Dancehall artiste could spend a day in her shoes. However, the artiste whose real name is Marion Hall vehemently denied that she said such a thing, insisting that producers of ER edited the interview in a way which made it seem like she was dissing her female compatriots, namely Spice and Tifa.

Following that interview, speculation arose regarding a possible beef between Lady Saw and Tifa which both denied. Spice later commented on the matter via TVJ’s Intense, saying that she was surprised by the alleged feud.

Now reflecting on recent events and surprised by the response by other female artistes regarding the interview, Lady Saw insists that she refuses to build personal relationships with fellow divas within the Dancehall industry.

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Busy Signal teams up with No Doubt on new single

Prominent Dancehall/Reggae superstar, Busy Signal has scored another major accomplishment on his international resume as he’s joined forces with prominent rock and roll group, No Doubt.

Having previously collaborated with Dancehall stalwarts such as the Queen of Dancehall, Lady Saw (Underneath It All) as well as Busy Signal’s long-time mentor and Alliance leader, Bounty Killer, No Doubt has merged with the Step Out singer on a new single entitled, Push and Shove.

The joint effort will become the lead single on No Doubt’s fifth studio album which will be unveiled on September 25, 2012 according to the legendary band.

For Busy Signal, his experience alongside No Doubt’s lead vocalist, Gwen Stefani and her group mates was enjoyable as the level of innovation while in the studio was unlimited given their different backgrounds and ideas created while brainstorming throughout the recording process.

The artiste, whose real name is Reanno Gordon also believes that this venture shows how much attention that highly regarded overseas artistes are giving to authentic Dancehall/Reggae music.

Meanwhile, Busy Signal’s manager, Shane Brown explained the origins of this collaboration, explaining that after Busy had recorded a single alongside Diplo of Major Lazer which Stefani later heard and liked; thus leading them to meet in studio and record, Push and Shove.

No Doubt’s previous collaborations with Dancehall/reggae acts have earned music’s highest honor as their 2001 collaboration with Bounty Killer (Hey Baby) and the 2004 effort alongside Lady Saw (Underneath It All) both nabbed Grammy awards for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group.  

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Top 10: Best international collaborations involving Jamaican artistes

Though musical genres such as hip-hop, rock and roll as well as R&B may cop more accolades and mention on the international scene, it’s an undeniable fact that Dancehall/Reggae has left an indelible mark on pop culture worldwide.

Ever since Bob Marley was in his hay day, Jamaican music has impacted and inspired fans, observers and artistes of various backgrounds, with many of today’s most prominent acts such as Rihanna, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and several others employing Dancehall/Reggae sounds in their music. Furthermore, many internationally acclaimed artistes and bands have done successful collaborations with Jamaican artistes, most recently with breakthrough Dancehall artiste, Popcaan and Jamaican born hip-hop star, Busta Rhymes on the Only Man She Want remix.

That joint effort has garnered Popcaan positive international recognition after dominating the local industry in 2011. With that in mind, here’s a look a ten memorable collaborations involving Jamaican artistes that helped shape the careers of many prominent Dancehall/Reggae acts.

10: Shabba Ranks feat. KRS-One – The Jam: In the late 80s, Dancehall was a slowly developing genre which was gaining steam locally and in the Caribbean thanks to artistes like Yellowman and Shabba Ranks. However, it was Shabba who would introduce Dancehall to an international fan base as he teamed up with foundation hip-hop artiste, KRS-One for the mixed genre single, The Jam. Featuring a mixture of Dancehall and hip-hop sounds, The Jam introduced the world to Shabba Ranks as a hardcore, sharp-thinking lyricist who could mesh with artistes of different sounds. The collaboration later garnered Shabba his first international recording contract as he signed with Epic Records in 1991. From there, Shabba Ranks never looked back as he scored a pair of Grammy Awards for Best Reggae Album over the next two years and even became a fixture on American Television with famous comedian, Marlon Wayans doing a memorable skit of him on In Living Color.

9: Patra feat. Yo-Yo – Romantic Call: As Shabba Ranks was to setting the bar for male Dancehall artistes overseas, so was Patra to females in the industry. In the late 80s and early 90s, Patra amazed local audiences with her raunchy, no holds barred musical persona; garnering her mass attention and accolades for her work. Ironically, it was Shabba Ranks who gave Patra her first big break international as she collaborated withhim for the single, Family Affair in 1994 which cracked the top 100 of the U.S. Billboard singles charts.

However, it was 1995 when Patra elevated herself to elite status when she collaborated with female hip-hop starlet, Yo-Yo who was a protégé of former NWA rap superstar, Ice Cube.  Their collaborative effort, Romantic Call earned her a top 60 place on the U.S. Hot 100 Billboard chart and exposed her as one of Jamaica’s must-see acts. A cameo was even made by the late great Tupac Shakur for the accompanying video.

 

 

 

8: Stephen Marley and Mos Def – Hey Baby: How did Stephen Marley become the most accomplished Marley disciple internationally, in terms of awards? Perhaps it dates back to his memorable 2006 collaboration with veteran hip-hop superstar, Mos Def for the remix of his single, Hey Baby.

The lead single off Marley’s album, Mind Control, Hey Baby immediately became a sensation locally and overseas and, in part, propelled the album to top the Billboard Reggae charts once it was released in March 2007. A pleasant mixture of Reggae and hip-hop sounds, many still regard Hey Baby as Marley’s most insightful track to date as he speaks of love using unique concepts. Mind Control later won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album and he’s since won two more, including for Revelation Part 1: The Root of Life which featured a sultry collaboration with Canadian R&B sensation Melanie Fiona (No Cigarette Smoking).

 

7: Baby Cham and Alicia Keys – Already regarded as one of Bounty Killer’s most successful disciples, Cham was hungry to take his success to a higher leveland after his chart-topping smash, Ghetto Story became an anthem for inner-city communities across the island, he enlisted the services of Grammy-winning R&B singer, Alicia Keys for a thought-provoking remix of the highly-acclaimed single. Ghetto Story: Chapter 2 reached the top 100 of the U.S Billboard charts and solidified his place as a prolific Dancehall star on an international level.

 

 

 

 

 

6: Supercat and Heavy D – Dem No Worry We: Having collaborated with Kris Kross and P Diddy in the early 90s, Supercat showed the world that he was truly the Don Dada of Dancehall. However, 1992 saw arguably his best international collaboration as he teamed with Jamaican-American hip-hop superstar, Heavy D for the single, Dem No Worry We. Given their backgrounds, this mixture seemed destined from success from the jump and elevated the auras of both prominent artistes as they continued to stamp their authorities on their respective genres throughout the early 90s.

 

 

5: Damian Marley and Nas: Honestly, it’s hard to pick just one song these two have done as it seems that anytime Damian Marley and Nas join forces, a smash hit is born. Dating back to their 2005 collaboration, Road to Zion, ‘Junior Gong’ and ‘God’s Son’ showed a remarkable chemistry few artistes can replicate. The single reached number 57 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop charts and prompted both artistes to work on a joint album, Distant Relatives which was released in 2010. Their album debuted at number five on the US Billboard 200 charts, featuring hit singles like Patience and Land of Promise, a remake of Dennis Brown’s classic, Promised Land.

After a highly successful world tour, many fans continue to hope that Damian Marley and Nas a similar project going forward and considering their success to date when joining forces, why not?

 

4: Bounty Killer and The Fugees – Hip-Hopera: The 1990s were long dominated by the intense rivalry between Dancehall giants, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man. However, while they continued their battle for supremacy, it was the ‘War Lord’ who scored first when it came to international collaborations as he joined forces with The Fugees for the uniquely conceptualized single, Hip-Hopera in 1997. Draped in royal attire, Bounty Killer displayed his lyrical dexterity for the world to see alongside Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras and copped at Billboard Hot 100 spot in the process.

This collaboration helped bridge the gap between Dancehall and hip-hop while also creating opportunities for younger Dancehall acts to make names for themselves overseas.

 

 

 

 

3. No Doubt feat. Lady Saw – Underneath It All: Though she never appeared in the video for Underneath It All, Lady Saw made her presence felt on No Doubt’s sultry, Reggae-themed single, Underneath It All. With scintillating vocals on offer by No Doubt’s lead singer, Gwen Stefani, Underneath It All captured the hearts and minds of fans in Jamaica and overseas during 2002, doing well on the U.S. Billboard Charts and earning a top 20 spot on the UK Singles Charts.

The single propelled Lady Saw to unprecedented heights as it landed the ‘Queen of Dancehall’ a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 2004.

 

 

2. Beenie Man and Mya – Girls Dem Sugar: Though Bounty Killer may have had first dibs on a successful collaboration with international artistes, it was Beenie Man who scored the bigger hit with an overseas act. In 1999, the ‘King of Dancehall’ combined with then upcoming producer Pharrell Williams and R&B sensation, Mya for Girls Dem Sugar, a song inspired by Beenie’s chart-topping single, Who Am I. With Mya offering a soothing set of vocals, Girls Dem Sugar reached number the top 50 of the U.S. Hip-Hop/R&Bcharts as well as number 13 on the UK Singles Charts.

Well received in local circles, Beenie Man ensured that Dancehall would finally garner the respect and accolades it so richly deserved and paved the way for artistes to follow his path to international stardom in the 2000s.

 

 

1.Beyoncé and Sean Paul – Baby Boy: Perhaps the artiste who took the most advantage of Dancehall’s rapid growth overseas was Sean Paul. Enjoying his most successful run of form yet with chart topping singles such as Get Busy and Gimme the Light, Sean Paul forever asserted himself as an elite artiste when he joined forces with former Destiny’s Child lead singer, Beyoncé Knowles for the single, Baby Boy.

A sumptuous single with Arabic music influences and a Reggae-like theme, Baby Boy shot straight to number one on the Billboard Charts and stayed there for nine straight weeks. Though it launched Beyoncé’s solo career, it’s undeniable that Sean Paul’s Jamaican flavor and lyrical touchmade Baby Boy a classic and as a result, helped his album Dutty Rock to win the Best Reggae Album Grammy Award in 2004. Since then, Sean Paul has arguably become the biggest Jamaican musical fixture overseas, joining forces with artistes such as Rihanna (Break It Off), Busta Rhymes (Make It Clap) and Alexis Jordan (Got 2 Luv U) amongst many others. Though many fans locally have criticized Sean Paul’s style of music, it’s unquestioned that he’s a major factor in why Dancehall/Reggae has become so popular worldwide.

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