Dancehall’s Heavy Hitters 2023

by Dec 27, 2023Articles, Report

Dancehall's Heavy Hitters 2023
In the mid-late 2010s, dancehall experienced a surge in popularity, thanks to the commercial success of several dancehall-pop singles like Rihanna’s Work and Drake’s One Dance and Controlla. This newfound attention caught the interest of many R&B artists, who also contributed to the change and evolution of the genre.

Simultaneously, in the dynamic realm of dancehall music, a fresh wave of artists emerged from rural parishes in Jamaica, far from the mainstream hub of the country’s music industry. These up-and-coming talents were heavily influenced by American trap music, infusing their own unique style into the genre. Their impact on the current dancehall genre has been nothing short of remarkable, especially with their strong presence on popular online streaming platforms.

Collectively, these six dancehall artists – Intence, Malie Don, Byron Messia, Masicka, Pablo YG, and TeeJay – amass over 4.64 million monthly listeners. As dancehall continues to evolve, these heavy hitters are at the forefront, pushing the boundaries of the genre and captivating audiences worldwide.

Each artist brings his own distinct style and infectious energy to the genre, further solidifying the global resonance of the vibrant sound and unique flair originating from Kingston, Jamaica. Keep an eye on these rising stars as they continue to make their mark on the dancehall scene.

INTENCE

Tashawn Gabbidon, better known as Intence, has carved out a distinct place in the dancehall scene. His performances are explosive and filled with infectious energy, while his music is filled with intense emotions, capturing listeners with its power and authenticity. His true strength as an artist is found at the crossroads of determination and the desire to entertain – Intence takes his performances to the highest degree. The young aspiring gained media attention with his single Jett Life and continued to make waves with his breakout hits Seh Dem Real on the Sed Way Riddim and Go Hard in the summer of 2019. Hailing from the concrete toughness of Kingston, Jamaica, Intence found success among his fans thanks to his unique combination of powerful lyrics, infectious beats, sheer talent, and creativity.

While signed to his first label, Boysie Records, Intence released the hit singles One Pants, Live Yuh Life, and Bag Gyal. Building off the attention garnered from these initial successes, he followed up with a stream of sensational songs including Dolla Bill, Dream Life, and Weh Dem Know. As his fanbase grew, so did the demand for his music. Intence responded by releasing more hit singles like Leave If Yuh Want Leave and Critics, which coincided with his shift to a vigilant and mysterious public presentation. Today, Intence enjoys his status in mainstream dancehall as a high-volume performing artist. By consistently putting out new singles, often on a weekly basis, he has managed to stay in the spotlight and contribute to the ever-evolving landscape of the genre.

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Intence – Lesson

Intence – Mompha

Intence – Mugger

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MALIE DONN

Jamaican dancehall/reggae artist Malie Donn, real name Kimalie Hylton, hails from Spanish Town, St. Catherine. Despite growing up in the rugged community of Waterford, where crime and violence was the order of the day, he managed to break free from that environment and find solace in music. Interestingly, Malie Donn made the decision to give up a potential career in track and field in order to pursue his passion for music. Today, he is recognized as one of the most influential young artists in the dancehall scene, bringing a unique perspective to the genre. His music blends traditional riddims with modern influences, creating a captivating sound.

With his energetic delivery and thought-provoking lyrics, Malie Donn stands out as a truly talented artist. He consistently produces great music and has collaborated with esteemed artists, solidifying his position in the competitive dancehall arena. The emerging artist has gained recognition for songs like Another Brick, Cruise, and Cash Code. These tracks serve as poetic expressions that capture his emotions, personal experiences, and the essence of his community. Alongside fellow artist Pablo YG, Malie Donn set Sting 2022 ablaze. In recent times, he has achieved immense success with chart-topping hits such as Dungeon, Cups Up, and his biggest hit to date, V6.

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Malie Donn – Dungeon

Malie Donn – Draga

Malie Donn – Cups Up

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PABLO YG

In 2023, Pablo YG has experienced a rapid ascent in the world of dancehall music. At just 19 years old, this talented artist has created a remarkable blend of bewildering melodies and energetic riddims that immediately captivate listeners with its infectious energy and undeniable charm. His unique ability to convey stories through his music has garnered a dedicated fanbase and solidified his position as a heavy hitter in the music industry. Since his debut single, Ready, hit the airwaves in 2020, Pablo YG has consistently worked on his craft, culminating in a breakthrough moment at Jamaica’s annual Sting show in late 2022. Following this performance, his popularity soared, with millions of views on his YouTube channel and his appearance in a fashion campaign for a collaboration between Supreme and Clarks. One of his standout achievements in the genre is the release of Rich N Richer, a soulful mission statement that resonates with millions due to its message of resilience and ambition.

Pablo YG was raised in Shaw Park, a town nicknamed ‘Crimetop’ on Jamaica’s northern coast. He first gained local recognition by performing at the annual Treats festival in Crimetop. In early 2020, he teamed up with producer Spinaz YG Muzik and recorded his track Ready over the Wildside riddim. This marked the beginning of his success, which continued with his subsequent singles Sauce Gad, Changes, and Postmortem. In addition to his solo work, Pablo YG has collaborated with other dancehall artists such as Skillibeng (on Galore), Valiant (on Motorsport), and 450 (on Gyal Magnet), among others.

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Pablo YG – Naughty List

Pablo YG – Fada Fada

Pablo YG – Feelings

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BYRON MESSIA

Byron Messia’s music showcases the wide range of dancehall as a genre. Based in St. Kitts, this talented artist adds elements of contemporary soul to dancehall, resulting in a smooth and captivating sound that also appeals to a pop audience. Born in Jamaica, Byron Messia moved to St. Kitts and Nevis shortly after birth as an adopted child. He started making music during his teenage years and released his early projects, such as the 2018 album S.I.G.H. and the 2020 album Different Perspectives. Although it took some time to gain traction, Byron Messia eventually gained popularity once he established the ‘dance-soul’ genre of which he’s now the leading force in its global promotion.

The artist undeniably dominated the summer anthem race with his irresistible hit song, Talibans, off his 2023 album No Love, released by Geffen subsidiary Ztekk Records. Talibans quickly gained international recognition, propelling him to new levels of fame and attracting a fresh fanbase. Renowned Afrobeat star Burna Boy joined forces for a remix called Talibans II, making history as the first song by a St. Kitts and Nevis artist to break into the Billboard Top 100 chart in August 2023. Soon after, he unveiled another lively and upbeat single titled Tropicana, featuring a collaboration with Rvssian. This was followed by Mad Dawgs, where Messia passionately showcases his perspective on the gritty street life in St. Kitts. Presently, the artist maintains his exceptional momentum with his latest release, Nightmares, a collab song with prominent US contemporary R&B singer Chris Brown.

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Byron Messia – 90’z

Byron Messia – Vent

Byron Messia – I Hate Byron

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TEEJAY

Teejay, a Jamaican native from Montego Bay, skyrocketed to fame in the dancehall realm during the late 2010s and has quickly emerged as one of the genre’s brightest talents. With a deep-rooted passion for music that ignited in his early years, Teejay initially showcased his skills through captivating performances at local talent contests and parties. His natural talent and irresistible charm did not go unnoticed, as several producers on the island soon took notice and welcomed him into their studios, where he began crafting and releasing his own music. However, it was in 2018 that Teejay truly made his mark, as his breakthrough single Braff captured the attention of music enthusiasts far and wide, solidifying him as a promising force within the dancehall scene. Following this triumph, Teejay continued to impress with a string of successful releases such as Up Top Boss, Owna Lane, and Uptop Wine, further solidifying his standing as a prominent figure in the industry.

Teejay stands out from his fellow artists with his distinct sound, characterized by his melodic style, infectious hooks, and versatile delivery. He seamlessly blends elements of trap and hip-hop into his dancehall beats, giving his music a fresh and contemporary twist. Teejay has teamed up with several dancehall and reggae artists, such as Vybz Kartel, Ding Dong, and Shenseea, to not only broaden his fan base but also introduce his unique music to a larger audience. Alongside his solo endeavors, Teejay is also affiliated with a dancehall collective named Uptop Movement. This collective of artists from Montego Bay has joined forces to establish a platform for displaying their talents and celebrating the music and culture of their city. Teejay, in particular, has received great acclaim and achieved commercial success in the dancehall industry. His music has captivated fans both in Jamaica and around the globe, leading to substantial popularity on various social media platforms. Teejay’s career remains on an upward trajectory, marked by the continuous release of new music and fruitful collaborations with other artists. Undoubtedly, he stands as one of the bright prospects in Jamaican dancehall and an artist worth keeping an eye on.

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Teejay – People

Teejay – Lonely Road

Teejay – Visa

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MASICKA

Javaun Fearon, better known as Masicka, embarked on his musical journey as a promising deejay. He first showcased his skills at local talent shows and competitions in his hometown of Independence City in Portmore, referred to as ‘Sin City’ by Masicka. Among the many talented deejays in the area, this provided the perfect platform for Masicka to learn from and compete against. It served as a training ground for him to hone his insane flow of melodies and harmonies. Masicka’s talent continued to flourish as he attended Calabar High School, where he earned the nickname ‘The Future’ after effortlessly outshining his competition with his advanced word play. It was evident to everyone around him that he was destined to become the next young recording artist to leave a lasting impact on the dancehall music scene.

He released his first solo tune at the age of 18 and continued to release new tracks consistently. Collaborating with influential figures in Jamaica’s music industry, he gained attention with hit songs like Dem Ago Dead in 2015 and They Don’t Know in 2018. Masicka quickly became recognized for his impressive flow among fans of contemporary dancehall music. As he continued to release music, his tight delivery and exciting beats became more polished, appealing to a wider audience. From mixtape releases to his 2021 full-length debut album, 438, Masicka showcased his growth. The album reached the second spot on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart shortly after its release and featured guest appearances from popular dancehall artists such as Popcaan, Stefflon Don, Sean Paul, and Dexta Daps. Similar to Vybz Kartel, who also attended the same High School, Masicka possesses incredible lyrical abilities and confidently rides the current riddims of dancehall like no other artist.

Masicka has established himself as a vivid storyteller, bringing the vibrant energy of Sin City to life through his music. Whether he is addressing personal struggles or celebrating victories with lively party songs, he’s able to infuse his songs with authentic emotion. His unique style draws inspiration from the traditional roots of dancehall while incorporating modern trap production techniques. In late 2023, Masicka released his second album, Generation Of Kings, through Def Jam Records. Singles off the album, including Limelight, Tyrant, Stars R Us featuring Popcaan, Reverse Time, and Triumph feat. Chronic Law & Lila Iké, have all achieved chart-topping success in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries.

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Masicka – Tyrant

Masicka – Bed A Rock!

Masicka – Feisty

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