BY: Jodee Brown
Dancehall has long been embedded with wide-ranging overtones that have made it one of the leading genres in Jamaica since the 1990s. Whether symbolizing the struggles of inner city life or simply having a good time with friends, Dancehall has always been relied on as a storytelling tool for many everyday topics that other mediums just don’t get into enough.
One topic that Dancehall has definitely shone a light on throughout its evolution is sex. Artists have never shied away from telling the naughty things that go on behind closed doors; in many cases, going into heavily explicit detail to get their points across. You could certainly say the genre has become ‘oversexed’ considering the increased sexual imagery that has inundated the music scene in that last few years. However, there are those songs that have been released along the way that, which being pretty clear about the theme, are also regarded as hits on radio, in sessions and bedrooms alike due to the cheeky metaphors, quality concepts and on point melodies without making everything overtly obvious.
Conjugal Visit, the recently-released collaboration between Spice and incarcerated Dancehall star, Vybz Kartel is a solid example of it, especially the concept, considering the song is about Spice’s character wanting to give it up to her jailed boyfriend during her visit behind prison walls. The song’s already been a hit, with the official video topping two million views on World Star Hip Hop within 24 hours of it release.
Inspired by this latest track, here is a list of the 10 greatest Dancehall songs about sex. But first, the honourable mentions:
Konshens – Stop Sign: Arguably the best song in Dancehall in 2012, Konshens scored with this improvisational number, comparing sexual rendezvous with a girl to road signs and treasure hunts. Deejay of the Year type material indeed.
Lady Saw – Stab Up Di Meat/Sycamore Tree/Healing/Heels On: She could honestly have a Top 10 list on her own about this topic given her raunchy, pull no punches persona. The latter was one of the biggest songs of 2013 and help reinforce her status as the Queen of Dancehall while the others helped her ascent to that crown in the mid-90s
Ce’Cile – Do It To Me: This was the first song of its kind that explicitly spoke out about on the biggest taboo topics in Jamaican culture; the issue men giving women oral sex. It gained her a lot of acclaim and criticism from her male counterparts, but it was a lightning rod and pace setter for divas who maybe were hesitant to speak out about it initially.
Vybz Kartel – Virginity: In a way, this was Dancehall’s version of Madonna’s classic, Like a Virgin as the ever polarizing Vybz Kartel scored with this chart-topper, Virginity in 2008.
The idea behind the song is about a man who gets intimate with his girl and triggers memories of the moment they had sex for the first time and he broke her virginity. Add on a nice melody from Kartel’s protégé, Gaza Indu and you get this hit which was one of several in 2008, arguably the best all-round year of the deejay’s career. Safe to say this song remains a hit in the music scene to this day.
Now to the list…
10. Macka Diamond – Dye Dye: For years, Macka was synonymous with doing counteractions of popular songs, speaking out about issues of cheating or hot new dance moves.
But the biggest hit of her career to date in her two-decade-long career as an artist was this hot number back in 2013. Dye Dye tells the story of a woman who seduces her boyfriend and drags him into the bedroom, begging him to please her to the point she cursing in patois repeatedly while using selective wordplay and sultry vocals to co-exist well with the rhythm.
The song was a chart-topper in Jamaica and a hit charts in the U.S. and Europe respectively. The video for it, which shows Macka simulating sex while scantily-clad dancers dance around to the beat make it all the more eye-catching. It got so popular to the point her Latin American fans got a treat when she remixed the song in Spanish. What better way to push a song about sex than by singing it in two different languages. Bedrooms all over the world were getting squeaky when this hit the airwaves.
9. Spice – Jim Screechie: It’s one thing for a song to talk about sex between and woman and her man. But when the song is about a woman willing to give it up to man despite having a boyfriend, it gives said song a bit more of that ‘stir the pot’ type element and in Jim Screechie, the proverbial kitchen was heating up whenever it was played.
This chart-topper from the Dancehall diva took the Equiknoxx Music produced rhythm of the same name due to its storyline about a woman who invited her mate, ‘Jim Screechie’ to come over while her significant other was at work and give her the loving she lacked and was desperate for. The irony about the video for the song is that ‘Jim Screechie’ was played by her long-time boyfriend, Nicholas Lall.
Nevertheless, this cheater’s anthem not only became a hit in Jamaica and North America, but it essentially made ‘Jim Screechie’ a part of the street lexicon, similar to the guys who label themselves ‘Joe Grine.’
8. Mavado – Squeeze Her Breast: While he and the aforementioned Kartel were exchanging lyrical blows with diss song after scathing diss song, the ‘Gully Gaad’ took time from the musical battlefield to make this hit for the ladies, entitled Squeeze Her Breast.
While the title pretty much gives away what to expect when hearing the song, Mavado’s wordplay and transition between hardcore deejaying and singing makes it worth the listen. While other effort such as Car Back, Twice a Day and Till She Bawl are other notable sex songs from the former Alliance standout, it was one of the songs that further pushed Mavado to superstardom, topping the local charts and being one of the biggest hits off his critically-acclaimed debut album, Gangster For Live: The Symphony of David Brooks.
7. Shabba Ranks – Bedroom Bully: Long before Kartel set the bar for slackness, Dancehall’s emperor, Shabba Ranks was the original pace setter for singing about bedroom shenanigans in his music.
Songs like Mr. Loverman, Champion Lover and Wicked Inna Bed were strong efforts describing this ever popular topic and helped him solidify his status as an international star in the early 90s. But it was this 1993 effort, Bedroom Bully that left no stone unturned; with Shabba bragging about his ability to please the ladies, essentially suggesting it was in his genes. “My daddy was a bedroom bully, bedroom bully for I man mommy. Then daddy bully Shabba Rankin mommy. Then Shabba mommy have a bully baby. And the bully baby God Almighty was me.”
This was Shabba at his ingenious best as he talked about his own talents between the sheets as well as how his ladies liked it and showed why he warranted a pair of Reggae Grammys in 1992 and 1993 respectively for his efforts.
6. Beenie Man – Wickedest Slam: The ‘King of Dancehall’ has a sizeable catalogue of sexually-charged songs to his credit, including Nuff Gal, Hmm Hmm and many others. But this one stood out not just because of its impact musically, but on popular culture as well.
Beenie, in no uncertain terms, talked about the type of girls he loved most and wanted to be with in this chart-topper, suggesting ghetto girls know how to please their men best. The video for the song was also one of the most popular Dancehall videos during the 1990s.
Not only was the song big locally and internationally, but it also helped trigger the condom brand, SLAM Condoms, which remains one of the more popular brands in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. Additionally, the song partly inspired the 2003 smash hit, Dude which featured then teenage singer, Ms. Thing.
5. Lady Saw and Spragga Benz – Backshot: Back to the Queen of Dancehall and despite her legion of hardcore songs about sex, this was undoubtedly the best of them all.
Muma Saw didn’t joke around on this one; getting straight to the nitty gritty about what her favourite position is and how she likes it while in said position. A pretty simple formula for a successful sex song: Talk about what you most enjoy about sexual interaction, put in a flurry of hard-hitting similes and metaphors and successfully transition with a male artist as each side describes the benefits of engaging in that specific position.
A top notch song with all the right elements to get you moving in the streets and between the sheets
4. Mavado and Stacious – Come Into My Room: On the heels of the squashed feud between himself and Vybz Kartel, the ‘Gully Gaad’ found both local and international success when he teamed with curvaceous Dancehall diva, Stacious for this smash, Come Into My Room in January 2010.
The Stephen ‘Di Genius’ McGregor produced track was the perfect combination of a stimulating beat meshing with sexy vocals by Stacious and Mavado’s hard-hitting lyrics. The chemistry on this track was fluent throughout as the two made you believe they were together given how intimate the song sounded. It was arguably the year’s biggest Dancehall song and personally, I can’t tell you how many times I heard people bopping to this song at one apartment I used to live at. Annoyed much.
3. Shaggy – Boombastic: After the likes of Shabba Ranks and Patra and others helped put Dancehall on the international map in the early 90s with their no holds barred lyrical content, then emerging act, Shaggy took things to another level when he crafted this bedroom banger, Boombastic in 1995.
The song showed Shaggy talking about how he had the physical attributes to please any woman, any time and his distinctly deep, rough vocals gave an edge to the song, which including a sample of Marvin Gaye’s classic, Let’s Get It On. It is still regarded as one of the most commercially successful Dancehall tracks of all time, reaching the top of the U.K. singles charts while peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also landed the entertainer his first and only Grammy award for Best Reggae Album for his compilation of the same name.
It’s been played in several movies and television shows during scenes where characters are about to do the nasty, but make no mistake, the clean nature of the lyrics compared to other sexually-charged anthems combined with the range of the artist who sang it makes it a classic in Jamaican music folklore.
2. Vybz Kartel and Spice – Ramping Shop: The song which inspired this list is a follow up to this classic from 2008 and is arguably the best piece of work in each artist’s careers.
Ramping Shop is the best sexually-charged combination single in Dancehall history, hands down, with its hardcore, world class wordplay by both artists. Plus what made it stand out more was the imagery behind the single, as the two took very racy photos in bed together to promote the track.
The song was number one for several weeks in Jamaica and broke into the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 2009. However, it courted just as much controversy as it did acclaim, if not more, as the song had to be pulled from radio after the publishing company Grammy-winning singer, Ne-Yo claimed copyright infringement due the song’s use of the rhythm for his hit single, Miss Independent. The song was also banned from radio by the Broadcasting Commission at one point and heavily criticized by public figures, including the then principal from my alma mater, Ardenne High School, Esther Tyson for its raunchy lyrical content.
Any song which talks unapologetically about sex is due to get scrutinized and given how popular and high quality this song was, it got more than most. A classic nonetheless.
1. Mad Cobra – Flex: After signing with American label, Columbia Records following a string of #1 hits in the U.K., Mad Cobra delivered the biggest hit of his career with this 1992 hit and the signature line, ‘Girl flex, time to have sex. Long time yuh have di rude bwoy yah a sweat.”
A Dancehall adaptation of Just My Imagination by The Temptations, this song peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and remains one of the most successful Dancehall songs, about sex or otherwise, to date. One of the more underappreciated lyrics in the genre’s history, the song also includes elements of R&B and Reggae along with soothing and wide-ranging lyrical content, with the song and beat often sampled by younger artists to this day. To date, it’s the best Dancehall song ever about sex.