Updated: May 1
It has been long established that Jamaica’s music is regarded ss the most impactful aspect of the island’s culture. In fact, the music is largely responsible for positioning Jamaica among the top ten most culturally influential countries around the world, and in the last 60 years, Jamaica has produced some of the most influential music styles including Ska, Rock Steady, Reggae, Dub, and Dancehall. As Jamaica celebrates its Diamond Jubilee (60th year) Independence, I believe that Yaawd Media would be remiss to allow the occasion to pass without acknowledging some of the most impactful pieces of music produced by Jamaicans over the period. To this end, I have selected 60 songs (one for each year) since Independence in 1962. These selections were made based on the impact the recording had on Jamaica and the world in the year that the disc was produced. Yaawd Media recognizes that there were many pieces of music that may have had great impact in particular years but may not have been released in the year of impact. It is therefore important to keep in mind that we are looking only at the year of release. Here is the fourth installment in the series with my selection of Yaawd Media's top 10 songs covering the period 1992-2001.
1992- Dem Nuh Worry We: Super Cat & Heavy D One of the strategies utilized by major-record labels in the early 1990s to help dancehall reggae impact the U.S. market was pairing Jamaican toasters with American rappers; some of these unions were more compatible than others, but none worked better than Super Cat and (Jamaica born) Heavy D. On this energetic track, the pair push each other to greater levels of excitement with their astonishing, fast-paced deliveries and playfully boastful lyrics.
1993- Action Not a Bag a Mouth: Nadine Sutherland & Terror Fabulous Nadine Sutherland teamed up with Terror Fabulous in 1993 to deliver this single for the Donovan Germain Penthouse label. The song grew even longer legs as the Jamaica Labour Party used the song’s lyrics as its campaign theme.
1994- Big Tings a Gwaan: Daddy Screw Daddy Screw (born Michael Alexander Johnson) began his career as a deejay while still a student at the Vauxhall Comprehensive High School in the early 1980s and worked on the Black Stone sound system. He had a few hits, but none had the impact of the single “Big Tings a Gwaan” released in 1994 under the guidance of producer Dave Kelly.
1995-Mr. Boombastic: Shaggy Mr. Boombastic was without the biggest Jamaican song in 1995. Shaggy’s cross-audience friendly toasting style made the song a winner to mainstream audiences as he masterfully twists and bends the chorus. A reviewer from Music Week rated the song four out of five, stating that being used in the latest Levi's ad, guaranteed Shaggy another global hit. The song achieved commercial success in many countries, including Ireland, UK, Sweden, New Zealand, and Australia, where it topped the singles charts.
1996- Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet: Tanya Stephens Tanya Stephens (born Vivenne Stephenson) was one of the most promising female reggae artists to emerge in the late '90s. Stephens caught her big break in 1996, when her ladies anthem, "Yuh Nuh Ready fi Dis Yet," caused quite a stir. Done on big Joyride riddim, a traditional reggae beat that ruled the dancehall, named after the Wayne Wonder and Baby Cham hit and created by esteemed producer-songwriter Dave Kelly. Tanya Stephens’ turn on the beat boldly asserts that women may stray because of their men’s bedroom skills (or lack thereof), a refreshing perspective within the male-braggadocio-dominated dancehall scene. “Yu Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet” took Stephens to the top of the local charts and solidified her position as a fearless, brilliant lyricist.
1997-Who Am I: Beenie Man The song is based on the "Playground" instrumental riddim which was produced by Jeremy Harding. According to Harding, "Beenie Man had heard the riddim 'Playground' on several occasions and loved it to the extent that he had even written a tune already when he arrived at the studio to voice without any prior notice. I heard a knocking one morning...and couldn't believe when I saw Beenie Man sitting outside complaining about how long he had been banging down the door. I turned on the equipment, and he went straight into the booth to record a perfect version of "Who Am I" in what seemed like one take."The track helped to introduce Beenie Man to the world as a new reggae star in the pages of Newsweek and other major media outlets.
1998-Heads High: Mr. Vegas Clifford Smith aka "Mr. Vegas" found fame in 1998 with several hits but none matched the single, "Heads High", an anti-oral sex tune. It was hugely successful in Jamaica and was followed with a chart run in the UK and a No. 69 peak on the U.S. R&B chart. 1999- Traffic Blocking: General Degree General Degree had a number of minor successes through the 1990s but his best was the 1999, "Traffic Blocking."
2000-It Wasn’t Me: Shaggy "It Wasn't Me" is the first single from Shaggy’s fifth studio album, Hot Shot that was released in 2000. The song features vocals from Rickardo "RikRok" Ducent. The lyrics of the song depict one man (RikRok) asking his friend (Shaggy) what to do after his girlfriend caught him cheating on her with "the girl next door". His friend's advice is to deny everything, despite clear evidence to the contrary, with the phrase "It wasn't me." The song was released to contemporary hit radio on 7 November 2000 and has been regarded as Shaggy's breakthrough in the pop market. It is his highest-charting song to date, topping the charts in Australia, Flanders, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It was the best-selling single of 2001 in the UK, selling over 1.15 million copies that year and over 1.42 million as of 2017. 2001-Get Busy: Sean Paul Sean Paul attained his first U.S. Number One with this song. The single, entitled, “Get Busy,” which was included on Sean’s certified two-times-platinum, Grammy-winning album Dutty Rock, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Thanks for taking the time to read our blog, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we appreciate your feedback. We also invite you to check Sunday Scoops our Jamaican music streaming and commentary program every Sunday from 2-4pm on yaawdmedia.com feel free to share with your friends. Check out our Reggae wear merchandise at: Reggae Clothing | Yardabraawd Gallery and Collectibles