Dancehall is a competitive industry. Today you’re on top, tomorrow you’re not.
Loop News, as part of our annual year in review, is ranking the top 10 artistes of 2020, based on the music the deejays created and other power moves.
It has been a difficult year for entertainment which has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic which has shuttered nightclubs, nixed tours and curtailed gatherings. But the beat goes on and with an effective vaccine in the works, live entertainment and gatherings could make a huge comeback in 2021.
Check out who made our Hot in 2020 list for dancehall.
10. Sean Paul
Perennial hitmaker Sean Paul struck gold yet again in 2020 with the song ‘Calling on Me’ featuring Swedish singer Tove Lo. Released in February via Island Records, ‘Calling on Me’ was certified gold in Hungary by the Hungarian Recording Industry Association and has combined global audio and video streams totalling 82,959,424. Of that amount, 66,049,785 are audio streams while 16,909,639 are video streams. The deejay also put out the Swiss Cheese rhythm which featured many local acts. However, he turned down the possibility of another dancehall Verzuz battle as fans had been clamouring for ever since Beenie Man and Bounty Killer clashed back in May. The ‘Like Glue’ singer has put an end to this dream as he has publicly stated that he’s not interested in that kind of clash. This comes after he denounced dancehall clashes like the ever-popular Sting show as a form of “slavery mentality” in a media interview.
The year has been good for some people, among them Masicka. Earlier this year, the artiste was nominated in the category Best Male Artiste for the International Reggae and World Music Awards. He also became the first brand ambassador for Dragon Stout, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. What’s more is that the young artiste has built a home studio which he showed off in a recent live video.
The Queen of Dancehall made several boss moves in 2020 – she closed in on a new home in Atlanta, inked an endorsement deal with Supreme Ventures, racked up over three million followers on Instagram, performed at sold-out shows in the US, participated in #BlackLivesMatter protests, ramped up promotion on her Faces and Laces hair and cosmetic line, and most recently launched her Graci Noir clothing. Need we say more?
7. Vybz Kartel
Vybz Kartel continues to battle for his freedom, taking the fight to the Privy Council to overturn his murder conviction. However, he continued to make hits in 2020 such as ‘Skate’, ‘Yami Bolo’ and ‘Come Home’ which has over 21 million views.
Although he was snubbed for a Grammy nomination for his ‘Fixtape’ set, the entertainer had a breakout year. He topped off several major collabs this year with two plaques he received from Billboard for his projects, ‘Vanquish’ and ‘Fixtape’. Vanquish, which was released in December 2019, debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart at the start of the year. ‘Fixtape’, which was dropped in August, also went to number 2 on that chart, and it debuted at number 94 on the Billboard 200 chart – his first time on that chart. The deejay was also featured on Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘Good News’ album on a track called ‘Intercourse’. He recently released songs with international stars Maroon 5, French Montana, Davido and Wiz Khalifa, as well as Canadian artiste Preme and British entertainer Loski.
After his breakout ‘Brik Pan Brik’ song last year, Skillibeng has been on a tear. He had a hot collab with Jada Kingdom, and his feud with Intence put his career on a new stratospheric level. He got major props for his brawling gun tune, entitled ‘Who’, where he dished out threats with his masterful lyrical traphall style. Intence hit back with ‘Pull Up’, and the fans are looking forward to more lyrical fisticuffs between the two. Skillibeng continues to trend well with songs like ‘Crocodile Teeth’ which has over 6.2 million views so far, and Torpedo which has 3.2 million views in only one month, and ‘Top Ranking’ which has over 1.8 million views.
4. Buju Banton
Talk about making up for lost time. Buju Banton just wrapped up another excellent year by copping the Best Reggae Act award at the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards in London, England, beating out the likes of Koffee, Popcaan, Protoje and Lila Ike. He also received a Grammy Award nomination for ‘Upside Down 2020’, his first album in a decade. Did we mention that he also won this year’s edition of the Jamaica Festival Song Competition for his entry, ‘I am a Jamaican’? All hail ‘The Gargamel’.
Intence is the new-gen titan on the lips of most young dancehall fans. Controversy followed him for most of the year as he feuded with Kartel, sacked his manager only a few weeks after his Benz crashed, and then was the subject of a JDF investigation as the deejay posted a photograph of himself illegally decked out in the military uniform clad from head to toe in boots, cap, and pistol holster. The only thing that gave him away that he was not a real soldier, was that he had failed to tie the boot laces the proper military way. He has continued to trend well with a number of hits and his beef with Skillibeng put his career on a new trajectory. In October, Skilli and Intence occupied the top 5 trending videos on YouTube Jamaica with songs which were subliminal disses aimed at each other.
Songs such as ‘Crocodile Teeth’ were already holding strong at No. 1 when the EastSyde Records artiste Skillibeng uploaded ‘Bad Man Thing’ which roared to number 2. The Yeng deejay’s September 16th song ‘Grimey’ had sparked the ‘Crocodile Teeth’ clapback, and he’s racked up over 900,000 plus views with ‘Nuh Long Talking’ and ‘Gun Ediat’ which rounded out the top five at that time.
2021 is shaping up to be the new battleground for the Yeng deejay.
Its been a great year musically for ‘Princess of Dancehall’ Shenseea, whose ‘Lighter’ song with Tarrus Riley must be a contender for ‘Song of the Year’, nearly hitting 30 million views on the strength of a bubble gum pop singalong hook.
She also scored another major hit with the controversial ‘The Sidechick Song’, which emerged as an unofficial anthem for mistresses in the dancehall.
Sadly, Shenseea also lost her mother suddenly. The news sent shockwaves through the dancehall community, with many artistes showing their support, such as Jada Kingdom, Popcaan, and Spice (dancehall). Jada and Shenseea even ended their feud as a result of her mother’s death.
Koffee has had the best year possible. She started off by winning the Grammy and she followed up with the hit song, ‘Lockdown’ over the summer. Now, she is the official brand ambassador in Jamaica for Mastercard, the international-recording reggae artiste tapped to build awareness about digital transactions while educating Jamaicans about the convenience, acceptance and safety and security features of Mastercard’s electronic payments options. As the year ends, she has landed another major brand ambassadorship deal as the latest ambassador for Nike’s Jordan UNITE campaign. Jordan UNITE is a global campaign that celebrates a generation coming together to create a positive impact that goes beyond sports.