Black Immigrant Daily News
The talking heads and apologists on talk radio had a field day in 2022 as they declared that reggae had been fully taken over by foreign interests after SOJA’s Grammy win for Best Reggae Album in February, and then declared dancehall dead after the show-ending fracas at Sting 2022 in December.
And, they continue to be wrong, as the indigenous genres continued to stream well all over the world.
In February, the hand-wringing began when SOJA, the American reggae band topped heavyweights Spice, Sean Paul, Gramps Morgan, Etana, and Jesse Royal for the Grammy. This triggered vigorous debate and soul-searching from the dancehall and reggae faithful who tried to process this news.
The news got worse in March when Jah Cure was sentenced to six years for attempted manslaughter after stabbing a promoter, resulting in another PR black eye for reggae.
The ‘Longing For’ singer is preparing to release another album, this time while he’s an inmate at a Dutch prison.
While Jah Cure was checking into prison, Flippa Mafia checked out seven months later.
In October, Flippa Mafia, who had been serving time in the East Jersey State Prison in the US, was released on parole after serving nine years. The 43-year-old DJ was initially given a 25-year sentence on drug trafficking and money laundering charges after his arrest in 2013.
Change is the only constant in life, and 2022 was no different as there was a changing of the guards as it relates to dancehall music.
Chronic Law in his element on night one of Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay, St James in July 2022.
Chronic Law outpaced Vybz Kartel as the most streamed artiste in Jamaica with 118 million views on YouTube, according to YouTube’s Charts and Insights. The ‘Lawboss’ was followed by Skeng with 95.2 million views. Masicka at 69.4 million was next, then Squash followed with 59.9 million, while Vybz Kartel rounded out the top five with 59.5 million views.
Even though he is not the most streamed artiste from Jamaica, the World Boss still has much to be grateful for with 415 million streams worldwide, according to YouTube’s Charts and Insights.
The 46-year-old incarcerated artiste had his moments in 2022 when he shocked the world, revealing in September that he was engaged to a Turkish national, Sidem Ozturk, who went on a brief press tour after the engagement was made public. Not long after, he was removed to a cell at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre.
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However, the ‘Summer’ singer’s latest album, ‘True Religion EP’, released on September 30 via Adidjahiem Records and dedicated to Ozturk, sold just 310 units in sales and streaming in the US during its first week of release, failing to hit the top 10 of the Billboard reggae charts. Kartel’s previous eight albums hit the Billboard top 10 reggae charts.
Jashii performs at Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay, St James in July 2022.
One of the breakout stars of 2022 was Jahshii, who had 50.2 million streams worldwide on YouTube. In fact, Jahshii’s ‘Born Fighter’ is the most streamed song for the year in Jamaica, with 10.7 million views.
Another breakout star was Skeng, who rocked the world with ‘Gvnman Shift’ and followed up with an even more massive hit, ‘Protocol’ with Tommy Lee Sparta, which was the second most streamed song in Jamaica for the year, with 10.3 million views.
Skeng was also boosted by a remix of his ‘Little Miss’ hit by Nicki Minaj, and then by the ‘Fine Nine Remix’, with several female artistes from the Caribbean.
But Jahshii made most of the headlines. First, he sparked a firestorm of criticism when he appeared on TVJ’s The Entertainment Report and shared details about shooting himself amid remarks about the police force.
Later in the year, the Grants Pen native was challenged to a lyrical duel by Montego Bay artiste Silk Boss. However, that potential clash with Silk Boss later fizzled.
When Sting made its return at the Grizzly’s Plantation Cove in St Ann, after seven years of absence, Jahshii was pulled from the show by his management, citing ‘contractual problems’.
Jahshii’s main competitor, Silk Boss also made a big splash in 2022. In August, the ‘Mankind’ artiste went viral for the wrong reasons when a video of him being physically assaulted by multiple men surfaced online. Silk Boss, whose real name is Rohan Reid, revealed that the men — who held him, his girlfriend, and her brother at gunpoint — were allegedly jealous friends of his.
According to him, they released the video a month after the assault happened, coinciding with one of the hottest streaks of his career. In the wake of the beating, the video for his single, ‘Sorry’, racked up 7.4 million views as the song appeared to make references to his betrayal at the hands of ex-friends.
Ishawna had a great year. She signed an international record deal with New-York based Payday Records in September and shared photos of the signing with Cordel ‘Skatta’ Burrell by her side. Burrell was instrumental in the production of Ishawna’s ‘Equal Rights’ record when it was released in 2017. The song was inspired by Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’, and brought a wave of controversy for its risqu? narrative about oral sex, which remains taboo in Jamaica. Ishawna later gifted Burrell a new Mercedes Benz S-Class for his support.
In July, Burrell was quick to Ishawna’s defence when her performance of ‘Equal Rights’ — while sitting over the face of a cardboard cutout of Bounty Killer at Reggae Sumfest — earned the ire of the ‘Warlord’ himself.
Downsound Entertainment’s subsequent apology for the ‘disrespectful’ act was deemed unnecessary by Burrell.
Last year was also a big year for Sumfest, as it was the show’s first in-person staging since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.
Speaking of Bounty Killer, after the actions by Ishawna, he had a turnaround in fortunes when he declared victory in December regarding his lawsuit against producer Othman Mukhlis, the British national who is now obligated to pay him a settlement for the J$60 million in royalties owed. He also turned 50 in 2022, an occasion that was marked by a star-studded show in downtown Kingston.
It was also a good year for Shenseea as ‘Lick’, her collaboration with rapper Megan Thee Stallion, was her highest-charting song in the United States as a lead artiste. It peaked at No 20 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.
It was a busy year for the ‘Trending Gal’ as she released new visuals for her single ‘Rain’ with Skillibeng in late August and appeared in a few collaborations, too, one with Charlie Puth on Calvin Harris’s ‘Obsessed’ and also on ‘Diana’ by Fireboy DML and Chris Brown.
Shenseea reeled in a whopping 193 million streams worldwide in 2022.
However, the Queen of Dancehall Spice had a dominant 2022, pulling in a staggering 399 million views, making her the highest-ranked female out of Jamaica on the global list of most streamed artistes from Jamaica.
Sean Paul outstripped everyone else, as the most streamed Jamaican reggae/dancehall artist on YouTube in 2022. He was followed by Bob Marley and The Wailers (678,000), Shaggy (522,000), Vybz Kartel (415,000)and Spice rounding out the top five most streamed Jamaican artistes on YouTube in 2022 globally.
According to the data, Spice’s most-watched song this year was ‘Go Down Deh’, featuring Shaggy and Sean Paul, which racked up 318 million views this year.
Dancehall Queen Spice suffered a serious medical scare in November, which played a major role in the postponement of several of her shows. Fortunately, Spice, whose real name is Grace Hamilton, has been resting and recovering.
Popcaan was arguably the year’s biggest winner in 2022. He had 267 million streams worldwide on YouTube, and to top it off, he is walking in the lane of dancehall-reggae royalty as he is reportedly dating Miss World 2019 Toni-Ann Singh.
The two dropped a dreamy song, ‘Next To Me’, and put on quite a show when Popcaan called the beauty queen onstage, kissed her on the cheek, and professed his love for her at Burna Boy’s Love, Damini Tour stop at the National Stadium in Kingston.
Indeed, Popcaan still a win.
In December, the industry navigated one of its most shocking moments for 2022 when the ‘Thank You Mamma’ reggae icon, Sizzla, burned two platinum plaques sent to him by DJ Khaled for his work on ‘Father of Asahd’ and ‘Grateful’. His followers alluded to disrespect because the plaques arrived late plus Dada’s name and image were deemed to be small, even needing ‘a magnifying glass’ to be properly seen.
Sizzla’s compatriots did not appear to share his views.
Bounty Killer shared a photo of himself posing with a platinum certification plaque from DJ Khaled’s ‘Khaled Khaled’ album on Christmas Day, three weeks after Sizzla’s blow-up.
Capleton also reportedly shared a photo where he is seen smiling broadly and holding his plaque, which had a very small plate commemorating his name and contribution to the project.
In 2023, it is safe to expect that there will be more chapters to this saga.
The entertainment year ended with another debacle at Sting, with commentators calling the show a disgrace after it ended prematurely.
A clash between social media personalities Amari and Queenie, which included wig-pulling and swear words, also made the show a hot topic.
Several artistes, including Valiant and Skeng, were unable to perform due to the show reaching the 7am cut-off time before they could perform. Valiant, however, held an impromptu performance in the parking lot to appease his fans.
After the show, the head of the Reggae Studies Unit at The University of the West Indies, Dr Sonjah Stanley Niaah, noted on Instagram that dancehall needed a reset.
“Leggo the disrespect, bad mind and victim lyrics, the badmanism and gangster chronicles. Pick up social consciousness, charity and love,” she wrote.
But, ultimately, the fans cared zero about what anyone wanted to say.
With just a cursory glance at the impressive streaming numbers and the revenue that dancehall continues to generate, dancehall is alive and well.