Dancehall Reggae Music 90s

Reggae music found widespread success during the 90s, thanks to dancehall artists like Buju Banton and Shabba Ranks who released hit after hit.

Lady Saw is known for having an eclectic vocal range that ranges from vulnerable and straining, to irreverent and playful in an instant – both approaches were on full display during this song, recorded over an abridged version of “Dem Bow.”

1. Buju Banton’s “Champion”

Jamaican organizers are honoring dancehall artists for their contributions to the growth and export of 80s-90s dancehall reggae music culture during this year’s International Reggae Day (IRD), InnerCity Promotions’ organizers have compiled a list of “Dancehall Gamechangers,” comprising artists, labels and sound systems who helped bring this genre of music worldwide recognition.

Dancehall style takes reggae’s formula of bass, recorded drums and four-beat rhythms to its musical extreme. Socially aware songwriters like Buju Banton and Shabba Ranks pushed for political change; female deejays such as Lady Saw and Tanya Stephens counteracted its sexualized lyrics and glorifying violence with powerful performance pieces such as Lady Saw and Tanya Stephens’ tracks.

Digital instrumentation had an immediate effect, creating faster rhythms known as ragga and prompting artists to incorporate Rastafari themes and cultural references in their dancehall performances, leading IRD to refer to this movement as “conscious ragga.”

2. Barrington Levy’s “Tell Them a Ready”

Dancehall expanded on reggae’s formula–bass, recorded drums, and four-beat rhythms–and extended it further than ever. Coupled with sound systems reaching lower-class Jamaican audiences where radios couldn’t, this lead to deejays like Buju Banton, Shaggy, and Shabba Ranks who addressed issues such as poverty, racism injustice violence sexual infidelity through their lyrics.

Female deejays such as Tanya Stephens and Patra took a stand against sexism and male objectification within reggae music culture, while spiritually conscious artists like Gregory Isaacs, Lady Saw and Lloyd Lovindeer stood as models for Rastafarian beliefs. Reggae enthusiasts have compiled this list featuring some of the biggest hits from this pivotal period of Jamaica’s music culture that celebrate its influence worldwide.

3. Louchie Lou & Michie One’s “Rich Girl”

As its title suggests, “Rich Girl” is a song about wealth. In its music video version, Stefani can be seen performing it while standing on the deck of a pirate ship and singing and dancing atop an ornate wooden chair surrounded by Bratz dolls representing herself and Eve.

Dancehall music is a modern Jamaican genre of reggae with an accelerated rhythm and heavy emphasis on track instrumentals (or riddims). Dancehall uses more Jamaican patois than English, as well as having more sexually explicit elements than its counterpart genres.

IRD’s list of Dancehall Gamechangers recognizes female artists, such as Sister Nancy’s Bam Bam; Patra’s Sycamore Tree; and Tanya Stephens’ Nuff Respect and Smile, among many others. Alkaline, Popcaan and Spice join this roster alongside Mr Vegas’s Heads High on this year’s list. IRD aims to honor these stakeholders for their contributions towards expanding and exporting Jamaica’s dancehall culture each year.

4. Terror Fabulous & Nadine Sutherland’s “Murder She Wrote”

Steely & Clevie produced this timeless dancehall classic on their Studio 2000 label. Levy’s soft vocals perfectly balanced out Bounty Killer’s hard-hitting lyrics on this timeless dancehall classic.

Cutty Ranks’ rise to fame during the ’90s was due to his no-nonsense badman lyrics; one of his biggest hits from that era is this song featuring him speaking about Jamaica that few know about over the lively “Fever Pitch” riddim.

Mr. Vegas had numerous hit songs during the ’90s, but one song stood out due to its sing-along quality: When played in a club environment, dancers go nuts! It embodies what dancehall fun really means!

5. Tanto Metro & Devonte’s “Murder She Wrote”

Sound systems were an influential force on dancehall reggae music during the 1990s, providing Jamaicans access to radio waves in areas where radio waves couldn’t reach. Buju Banton and Vybz Kartel used sound systems to their advantage with their signature lyricism to breathe new life into this genre.

At the end of the decade, however, trends were turning back toward Rastafari and cultural themes. Artists like Luciano, Anthony B, and Sizzla began incorporating Rastafari references into their music lyrics for more conscious lyrics that addressed Rastafari ideology.

The 1990s marked an era of Jamaican music that saw it reach new heights of success, featuring songs with upbeat lyrics and infectious beats that helped spread reggae worldwide. From dance tracks to reflective tunes, these tunes will take you back in time – discover this list, vote for your favorites, and savor an unforgettable part of Jamaican history.

6. Sugar Minott’s “Herbman Hustling”

As the popularity of ragga grew, artists like Sugar Minott, George Phang and Sly & Robbie soon created innovative rhythms fusing dancehall styles with roots influences and lovers rock influences; Herbman Hustling by Minott was among the first.

However, in response to the violence of Kingston’s conflicts, artists moved towards Rastafari and more conscious lyrics and music; this resulted in the birth of “conscious ragga.”

In the 1990s, women transitioned from traditional, modest “rootsy” clothing styles to bold and often provocative outfits, often teaming up to form modeling posses. IRD organizers believe these changes contributed to an increase in sexualized lyrics that objectified female bodies as sexual organs.

7. Sean Paul’s “Who Am I”

Sound systems rose to popularity during the early 1990s due to their ability to take music “where radio can’t reach.” This became particularly crucial in dancehall reggae because many Jamaicans did not have access to radio.

The sound system boom of that period saw dancehall reggae evolve away from shallow lyrics toward more conscious themes such as Rastafari citation. Buju Banton, Capleton and Shabba Ranks began using Rastafari references within their music, prompting a conscious ragga movement to emerge.

As time passed, more artists joined Dancehall and its popularity expanded globally. This enabled cross-genre collaborations and artists to hone their sounds, as well as crews of men or women that developed unique dance moves and styles of dress specific to Dancehall scenes.

8. Damian Marley’s “Welcome!”

Damian Marley writes this song about his perceptions of Jamaica compared to what the tourism industry portrays of it. It addresses crime, poverty and political corruption while calling upon authorities for intervention.

Dancehall deejays use Jamaican Patois and track instrumentals (or riddims) to craft an emotive style of Jamaican music called dancehall deejaying. It typically has faster rhythms than reggae’s roots, rocksteady, or dub styles and often includes lyrics about partying, sexuality and drugs.

In the 1990s, dancehall artists like Vybz Kartel, Popcaan and Alkaline emerged into global popularity thanks to InnerCity Promotions led by Mike Tomlinson and Lois Grant’s event series that helped give Jamaica’s popular “Dancehall” genre recognition.

9. Terror Fabulous & Nadine Sutherland’s “Murder She Wrote”

Lila Ike epitomizes dancehall reggae music at its finest. Her signature style includes vocal energy, confidence and stage show performances that represent her genre’s true spirit. Her skill at adapting roots reggae’s solid bottom end into deeper digital sounds sets her apart in an age where fast rhythms have become the norm.

Produced by legendary Dave Kelly, “Heads High” is an undeniable sing-along classic by Mad Cobra on the Triple Bounce Riddim. While most recognize his hard-hitting tales of gangsterism, this track reveals his versatility as an artist with more sensual side.

There are dancehall classics and then there is this one. Not only did it create the musical genre known as Reggaeton, its military drum patterns had a huge effect on how beats were constructed in current day music – creating an instant vibe.

10. Tanto Metro & Devonte’s “Murder She Wrote”

Sleng Teng’s iconic bassline, with its syncopated rhythms and powerful, deep sound was arguably the most influential beat of the 1990s, driving dancehall reggae music’s digital boom as well as creating numerous soundalike riddims that followed suit.

Steely & Clevie were famous for making a fortune during the ’90s by remixing Sleng Teng with their own hits and drawing out the best performances from artists recording on it – from superstar deejays like Buju Banton to rising stars like Delly Ranx.

Producer Jahvy Ambassador created the Soul Survivor riddim as a therapeutic exercise after his serious car accident, featuring artists like Jahmiel and Mavado with songs about perseverance and survival, including social commentary by Jesse Royal’s Modern Day Judas and Damian Marley’s Is It Worth It (Gunman World). IRD honors producers, selectors, and sound systems who contributed to Jamaica’s 80s-90s Dancehall culture growth and export.