Reggae music has evolved through the years since it was first created. It is today one of the biggest manufacturers of hits worldwide. Dancehall, a sub-genre of reggae, uses hip hop influences and creates faster beats for faster dancing. The 1990s saw dancehall become more mainstream, with international success coming to some of its biggest stars. These are our top 10 Dancehall Reggae Tracks from the 90s plus 5 bonus tracks!
#10 Sean Paul – Temperature (1995) Sean Paul exploded onto the scene in 2002 but he released his first single ‘Temperature’ in 1995. A massive song in Jamaica, Sean Paul was the first artist to win four consecutive awards at the Jamaican Reggae Industry Awards: ‘Best New Entertainer’, ‘Song of the Year’ and ‘Most Played Song’ for “Temperature” and ‘Dancehall Artiste of the Year’.
#9 Anthony B – What’s Mi Name (1995) Anthony B is one of Jamaica’s most popular dancehall musicians. He had a string of hits throughout his career but his biggest hit was ‘What’s Mi Name’ featuring Supercat in 1995. The song reached number 25 on Billboard magazine’s Hot R&aB/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart while reaching number 1 in Jamaica.
#8 Cutty Ranks – Limb By Limb (1993) Cutty Ranks is one of dancehall’s most prolific artists haveArtiste released over 20 albums throughout his career in the 1990s and 2000s. He burst onto the scene with 1993’s ‘Limb By Limb’ which was recorded in Jamaica but reached number 1 on Billboard magazine’s Hot Rap Singles chart, making it one of the first reggae songs to reach this milestone!
#7 Lady Saw – If Him Lef (1995) Lady Saw has become one of the biggest names in dancehall music, releasing hit after hit throughout her career. She started out singing at Shaggy‘s mother’s birthday party when she was 18 and in 1995, her solo career truly began with the release of ‘If Him Lef’. The song topped Jamaican charts and led to Lady Saw winning Dancehall Artiste of the Year at the 1995 Jamaican Reggae Industry Awards.
#6 Buju Banton – Batty Rider (1993) 1993’s ‘Batty Rider’ was a controversial track by Buju Banton who many say is one of dancehall’s most talented musicians. He shows off his vocal range in this track, reaching two octaves from G2-A5!
The lyrics were reportedly about love but it’s not clear whether they were supposed to be taken seriously or ironically. In any case, the song reached number 1 in Jamaica and helped Buju Banton become one of dancehall’s biggest stars.
#5 Beenie Man – Street Life (1998) ‘Street Life’ is a track by the famous Beenie Man and it was released as part of his 1997 album ‘Mentally Disturbed’. It features one of the most unique beats ever made by using an ice cream van horn! The vocal delivery is also notable as Beenie Man utilizesArtiste a technique where he uses pauses to create tension, suspense, and excitement.
#4 Elephant Man – Pick Up The Phone (1995) Despite what many would argue were racist lyrics, 1995’s ‘Pick up the phone became a massive hit for Elephant Man because of its catchy beat. The song is inspired by Jamaican producer King Jammy’s ‘Stalag’ riddim and it made Elephant Man the first dancehall artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart with a purely dancehall single!
#3 Super Cat – Boops (1992) Super Cat exploded onto the scene in 1992 with his debut single ‘Boops’ which was recorded in Jamaica but reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart.
He has collaborated with some of reggae’s biggest names including Shabba Ranks, Beenie Man, Cocoa Tea, and more. His most successful track is 1993’s ‘Dolly My Baby’, which contains an interpolation of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”.
#2 Shabba Ranks – Mr. Loverman (1993) In 1993, Shabba Ranks released an updated version of the 1964 song by Jamaican band The Valentines. It was a huge hit in Jamaica and helped to make 1993 one of dancehall’s most successful years ever.
#1 Sean Paul – Get Busy (2003) ‘Get busy’ is a massive track from 2003 that made dancehall reggae popular across the world! It features Jigzagula who provides a catchy hook over a frenetic beat. Sean Paul invited Jigzagula on stage with him during his performance at the 2013 Grammy Awards ceremony to perform this mega-hit for the first time since its release twelve years prior!
5 Bonus Dancehall Reggae Tracks In The 90s:
#5 Bounty Killer – Batty Rider (1997) ‘Batty rider’ was originally released by Buju Banton in 1993 and quickly became a hit. Bounty Killer decided to record his own version of the song and it once again topped Jamaican charts becoming one of dancehall’s biggest songs ever!
#4 Elephant Man – Miss Fatty (2005) A new version of Super Cat’s classic track ‘Miss fatty’, this time produced by Swizz Beatz. It samples Notorious BIG’s song ‘Going back to Cali’ and is widely regarded as one of Elephant Man’s best tracks ever.
#3 Beenie Man featuring Rihanna & Flipmode Squad – Girls Dem Sugar (2006) A worldwide hit that made dancehall reggae popular all around the world. The lyrics caused controversy for objectifying women and it was blamed for inciting violence against females.
#2 Tanya Stephens – It’s a Pity (1998) ‘It’s a pity is one of Tanya Stephens’ most famous tracks and featured on her 1997 album ‘Rebelution’. The song became an anthem about domestic violence and went to number 1 in Jamaica!
#1 Shaggy featuring Ricardo “RikRok” Ducent – In the Summertime (2001) Another massive hit from 2001, this time by Shaggy featuring Rikrok. This laid-back summer jam makes great use of the steel pan.
How Dancehall Reggae Tracks became popular in the 90s
There are quite a few ways that ’90s dancehall tracks were popularized to the mainstream. Jiggy music started becoming mainstream in the mid-‘80s with artists like Shabba Ranks, Yellowman, and Patra taking it out of Jamaica and onto other islands around the world.
At this time there was also a crossover between rap & dancehall reggae which first occurred when KRS-One (of Boogie Down Productions) collaborated with Yellowman for “The Bridge Is Over”. This laid down the groundwork for future “raggamuffin” collaborations. Later on, in 1992, Ice T released “Yo’ Love” featuring Buju Banton; however, there was not much success.
In 1993, Shabba Ranks released an updated version of the 1964 song by Jamaican band The Valentines. It was a huge hit in Jamaica and helped to make 1993 one of dancehall’s most successful years ever.
Rikrok (of Flipmode Squad) & Shaggy had their first crossover hit with “Oh Carolina” which made #1 on both the US Rap and Reggae Charts – proving that raggamuffin tunes were catching on at this time. This was closely followed by Sean Paul’s debut single “Baby Girl”, produced by multi-million selling producer Evan Rogers; things continued to escalate from here!
Pop stars like Madonna started working with dancehall artists for collaborations. In 1999, she released a song with Beenie Man which topped the charts in the UK and led to a brief period of mainstream popularity for dancehall.
Sean Paul’s Get Busy was a massive track from 2003 that made dancehall reggae popular all over the world! It features Jigzagula who provides a catchy hook over a frenetic beat. Sean Paul invited Jigzagula on stage with him during his performance at the 2013 Grammy Awards ceremony to perform this mega-hit for the first time since its release twelve years prior!
Dancehall Reggae Tracks today
So, in the last decade dancehall reggae has become more popular than ever with artists like Sean Paul leading the way. He is closely followed by Mavado, Vybz Kartel, and Busy Signal who are all reaching new audiences around the world!
This music is very difficult to ignore these days with hits being constantly played on TV channels across the planet, for example, Sean Paul’s ‘She Doesn’t Mind’ was recently featured on Glee. The world of entertainment would be a lot less interesting without this musical genre which is widely regarded as Jamaica’s most famous export!
In the ’90s, Dancehall became very popular with songs being heard across the planet. Artists collaborated with pop stars to create a crossover between rap & dancehall reggae and more people were exposed to this genre of music.
In 2004 it reached a peak when Sean Paul released Get Busy which was a massive worldwide hit! These days dancehall is as popular as ever with Sean Paul leading the way with many other artists following in his footsteps.
Seen as Jamaica’s most famous export, dancehall is now spreading its roots throughout different cultures on our planet with everyone from Mad Decent (a US electronic music label) to Rihanna sampling dancehall tracks for their productions; we can only expect it to get even bigger!