Forget that it was Kool Herc, the Jamaican, who took Jamaica’s Dancehall style to the Bronx to create Hip-Hop. Forget that the purest dancehall aficionados do not like the fact that most of the dancehall artists coming out of Jamaica today are sounding more like American rappers. Forget that dancehall and hip-hop has had more collaborations together than probably any other two genres of music.
Let’s just look at both musical genres as what they are and what makes them special. All the things that make dancehall and hip-hop unique and different from other genres of music, are the ae things that make dancehall and hip-hop similar to each other.
Apart from reggae music, the mother of dancehall, there is no other genre of music that comes even close to dancehall and hip-hop in the fight against injustice. Whether it is KRS-ONE or Capleton, Nas or Sizzla, Chuck D of Public Enemy or Anthony B; dancehall and hip-hop have always been a voice for the voiceless. Vybz Kartel says, “we come from the Garrison”, Nas says he from Queensbridge Projects, Jay Z says he is from Marcy hood, while Bounty Killer says he is from “down inna di ghetto”; just different words to represent the exact same environments in the home of hip-hop and dancehall.
Have you ever been enjoying a song and then by the end of the song you say to yourself, “damn, I was just listening to a three minute commercial but I enjoyed it”? If that has ever happened to you, chances are you were either listening to reggae or hip-hop. Just think about songs like Busta Rhymes “Pass the Courvoisier” or Vybz Kartel’s “Clarks”. Those songs are actually commercials like many other songs from the genres. Now, I have heard other genres of music with product placements within a song, but never an entire song dedicated to a product. That is something completely unique to dancehall and hip hop.
I have never seen in any other genre of music where artist had conflicts on records, on stage and even real life confrontations. When you think of Vybz Kartel leaving the alliance and starting an all-out lyrical assault against the remaining members it must remind people of Ice Cube leaving NWA and lyrically destroying Dr. Dre and the other members. Not to go off course, but, “No Vaseline” is probably the greatest dis song of all time whether by a dancehall or a reggae artist.
Bob Marley shot the sheriff and Eric Clapton follow suit and did the same. However, nowhere as more law enforcement officers been killed than in hip hop and dancehall. Not only does both genres kill the police, they also kills those who try to assist the police. The only difference is hip-hop call them “snitches” while dancehall call them “infawma”.
The parallels being hip hop and dancehall are endless and we could go on forever discussing them. It might be prudent for the die-hard fans of both genres to embrace and accept that the difference in the beats and the accents on the lyrical delivery were the only things separating dancehall and hip hop. Those lines are now beginning to blur, even more so as we become more global, pretty soon there will be nothing separating the two genres. As Melodic Yoza would say, “We Are One”. Even today, look at Melodic Yoza, how would you describe him? What box would you put him in? Is he hip hop or dancehall?
That is the future for hip hop and dancehall. It is what you hearing from artists like Melodic Yoza today. Hip Hop and Dancehall, one and the same.