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"Out of one, many" - 00s pop in UK

Today we talk Jamaica's influence on UK pop in the 21st century.

Jamelia roped in a little help from Beenie Man to get her first hit, a #5 in 2000

Shaggy - "It Wasn't Me" - best selling single in 2001. It still ranked #5 in the best-selling singles of this century in the chart released December 2011. That includes singles sold for 79p and benefit of reality TV shows. This along with fellow number 1 "Angel" were released on the diamond-certified (10 million albums worldwide) Hotshot.

American rock group No Doubt ventured to Jamaica to record their album Rocksteady. The well-received album spawned two dancehall-fused hits, Grammy award winning "Underneath It All" featuring Lady Saw and UK #2 "Hey Baby"featuring the unmistakable vocals of the poor people's governor, Bounty Killer.

Australian actress/singer/siren Holly Valance climbed atop the UK charts in 2002 with the ultra sexy "Has she got on clothes? I'm not sure but I'm gonna say no to fulfil my pubescent fantasies" (may or may not be based on real version of events) video for "Kiss Kiss". The original is by Turkish superstar Tarkan, but this is a cover of Stella Soliel's version. Dancehall influences sit alongside traditional Mediterranean sounds. The med like a bit of reggae and dancehall, they do.

2003 saw the rise of dancehall's first genuine superstar in form of Sean Paul. Not many saw the vision of the uptown youth becoming the first dancehall artist to chart consistently and sell albums with authentic dancehall riddims, albeit giving special treatment for mainstream (additional instruments). "Gimme The Light" kicked the door in initially.

Performing it on the MOBO Awards in 2002 (when the MOBOs actually gave artists like him a chance to access the wider market) helped a whole heap. It wasn't until summer 2003 when the buzz really turned to something tangible, appearing on two number 1's - Blu Cantrell "Breathe" and Beyoncé's second solo US chart-topper "Baby Boy" (#2 in UK).

"Get Busy" on the Diwali riddim (possibly the most successful riddim of all time) became Paul's highest chart entry that year.

Sean Paul's success set off a chain reaction that summer. Fellow artists to benefit chart-wise were Wayne Wonder who did exceptionally well with "No Letting Go" reaching #2

At this point, dancehall experienced a time I've never seen in my life. Authentic dancehall songs that were banging in the clubs graduated to TV rotation. Elephant Man "Pon Di River" took the land by storm, he seemed to appear on a remix for every urban American song from Usher "Yeah" to Lil' Jon "Get Low",  TOK were set to breakthrough in my opinion with "Gal U A Lead". But all that came to a halt when OutRage! launched a political campaign against them with the support of the nations media.

For once, the world seemed to take the moral high ground as far as music/entertainment is concerned. Maybe too far, as the whole genre was labeled "murder music" and corporations cut back investment - something that still hinders the genre to this day.

And St Vincent & Grenadines born Kevin Lyttle hit one of the biggest songs of the whole entire year. "Turn Me On" floated in the top ten forever acquiring silver status (excess of 200,000 singles sold). Although, more a meeting point of Caribbean sounds (reggae, dancehall and soca to be precise) the styling of the video is carnival, while they take inspiration for dances from both carnival and popular dancehall moves. This broke in UK before (being remixed and) moving to US the next year.

Another hit to benefit of the dancehall trend, was Jay Sean. Producer Rishi Rich lined him with the r&b/bhangra riddims such as "Dance With You" and "Eyes On You" in 2003 - a lot of bhangra has a strong dancehall influence (see Apache Indian). Juggy D singjay's on the former and the latter has a internationally made dancehall feel like Cassidy's "Hotel". Another Asian artist to benefit from the dancehall rise was Raghav who reached #6 with "So Confused" that same year.

R&b/pop group Blue chopped up a little dancehall on top 5 single "One Love" - a song produced by Norwegian duo Stargate who went on to fuse dancehall and r&b to great success when breaking America a couple years later... (see NeYo)

2004 saw Fya's Def Jam released single "Must Be Love" reached lucky number 13. Long time Sky digital viewers will recognise this from MTV Base. American (former) hip hop group Black Eyed Peas turned in a dancehall attempt in form of "Hey Mama" which served as third single from breakthrough album Elephunk. One of the numerous songs clearly influenced by the Diwali riddim after SP's success, boasted a feature from UK's very own Tippa Irie from Saxon Sound. Together they reached #6 in UK chart.

Like Kevin Lyttle the year before, another minority nation managed to capitalise on dancehall's dominance, this time reggaeton. The genres hit came in shape of top 5 hit "Gasolina" by Puerto Rican fast-chatting "rapper" Daddy Yankee. This set off a host of reggaeton raves, namely La Bomba. The Latino's came out in fully force for that, I tell ya.

Remember Stargate from a bit earlier? Well, they teamed with Ne-Yo to produce "So Sick". Went to #1 and sounds like dancehall. If you disagree, but think Rihanna "Rudeboy" does, you're a plank. Second UK-released single, "Sexy Love" went top 5, and sounds like a slowed down Diwali.

Speaking of both Rihanna and Diwali riddim, her debut single/ Diwali knock-off "Pon Di Replay" jumped in at #2 in 2005. Later in the year saw the return of Sean Paul complete with new album The Trinity lead by most successful single to date "We Be Burnin'" held off top spot by Pussycat Dolls "Don't Cha".

On the flip side, previously relatively unknown Marley by the name of Damian emerged with monster of the year. "Welcome to Jamrock" had been burning on the dancehall scene in 2004, but it wouldn't be until 2005 that the commercial crossover began. It's eventual release in September saw it peak at number 13.

Mouthy west Londoner Lily Allen rose to the forefront of UK music in 2006 with a ska and rocksteady-infused sound much like Madness or The Specials before her (check an earlier post where I spoke about this or watch this YouTube clip of Lily + The Specials performing together at Glastonbury).

Following her discovery on MySpace, Mrs. Cooper bounced Shakira's monster (reggaeton/dancehall-infused) hit from the top spot by cussing an ex on "Smile", sampling Jamaican producer Jackie Mittoo ("Free Soul") in the process.

My mind has gone blank, can't think of any examples between 2006-2010. Ne-Yo, Rihanna and Stargate kept a bit of a flow. "Hate That I Love You" - #15 in 2007, "Miss Independent" - #6 in 2008, Rihanna - What's My Name - #1 in 2010.

Biggest urban single this side of the century is "Pass Out" by Tinie Tempah. This is a perfect example of reggae in a UK electronic style.

Wretch 32 "Traktor" is the biggest selling hip hop song on UK iTunes. PR call it dancehall-fused, Wretch explains his initial love was dancehall and his delivery is a dancehall fashion

Then you have Rizzle Kicks who are basically a 2012 version of Madness. Classed as a hip hop act, but they've made ska and dancehall-fused tracks. "When I Was A Youngster" (#8 UK) samples The Clash "Revolution Rock", "Down With The Trumpets" (#8 UK) has a reggae bass line and "Mama Do The Hump" (#2 UK) has a driving dancehall kick drum pattern. They aren't dancehall and reggae songs ("Youngster" is a ska revival record), but they use influences to make something which sounds fresh and original. Something we excel at. Hate them or love them, it's true. They've sold over a million singles and 300,000 albums, so someone likes them.

You can read about last year's JA influence here. I did a whole post about it.

This year Bajan pop-reggae group Cover Drive topped the charts with "Twilight"


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