SOUNDS AND PRESSURE
UPDATED 5 January 1999
DANCEHALL Pt 2 (THE NINTIES LICK)
The answer to the question of "What Is Dancehall?" is a very difficult answer to give in a small time. The fact is, is that dancehall is one of the oldest styles of music, REGGAE, just with a new name and style(to some), ragga is also another alias it is more of a British term but definitely the same thing. Many feel that dancehall is not reggae, they say it has a negative message and it is not up lifting for the younger generation (that thought is the main problem in Australia and that is why reggae hasn't passed since the mid 70's, GET OVER IT), it can have heavy gun lyrics, sex and anti-establishment messages, which is to be enjoyed and not to be taken too seriously, the great Bob Marley also sang about the the down-fall of Babylon. When the artist Bounty Killa wrote a lyric in 1996 "Poor People Fed Up" he was expressing the way poor people were feeling FED UP (I mentioned this one song out of many due to the fact that it was and still is one of my all time favourite tunes of the 1990's). Yes people were and are fed up with the system and it's not just about one love, the new lick is "Kill Or Be Killed". A quote from the great Super Cyat "life is not soft... we nah sing nah soft song again !" I think that, that pretty much sums up the whole idea. Life is hard and the way it is expressed is through the music. Jamacia isn't just a place of swaying palm trees, and a sea full of bountiful fish and smilling Jamacian faces. The major cities can be a very risky place and is not to be taken lightly.
Another major influence to dancehall is the anti-battiman and lesbian message. This is one of the major topics in dancehall, check out the Bounty Killa lyric "Can't Believe Mi Eye's" it is on his album "Next Millenium" or any other dancehall track for that matter, from Capleton - Merciless - Cobra and also many female artist you'll either find them quite funny or extremly offencive. Look out for some Stone Love, Renaissance and other Jamacian sound system dancehall video's for the way in which Jamaican show their apprecation for women, dancehall fashion is where it usually starts. The music pushes women of all shapes and sizes(unlike other types of music)to be proud of what you've got and to flaunt it the bigger the better. With such a serious approach to the music it is not(should not)be taken directly to heart so therefore not to be banned on air because of confrontational lyrics but to be pushed, it may open a few eyes. Dancehall is all about the vibes, the atmosphere, good food, women & men.
Dancehall has always had its darker side, with shoot outs in the dances, acid attackes and other violent acts. A big sound system clash can have a very heavy feel to it, that is when dancehall takes the more violent (if you could say that)approach, when big dub-plates are played to kill other sounds and counteractions to that, M.C's from opposing sounds flinging insults and threats to one another can and will work the croud into a frenzie. Pure horns, whistles, lighters and forwards can be intimidating to some(I advise people with a heart condition not to go or if you can't handle a lot of noise)and this can sometimes give the wrong impression but it all about the music and an entertaining evening.
Not forgeting the more serious and cutural artist of dancehall, people like Sizzla, Capleton, Morgan Herritage, Jah Cure, Anthony B, Tony Rebel e.t.c who are pushing a message to not just except the answers that society (Babylon) gives and to look for the answers from your own cultural back grounds, Africa fi Africans, Australia fi Australian. This is the return of roots reggae (also not new) they are known as "The Fresh Vegetables" for more information on The Fresh Vegetables check Sound&Pressure by Brent Clough. Also check out the Nasty Tek Sound Systems Website at www.members.tripod.com/~NASTYTEK. Try to have an open mind to dancehall/reggae it has change since 1970's but so has all other music, why not reggae/dancehall?