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Best of Jamaican Music Awards 2015

So anyway, I always think of dancehall and reggae as summer to summer. If a riddim didn't run summer, it doesn't qualify for a release that year. This stems back to going to Jamaica every year for Independence weekend. And Jamaican music sounds so much better in the lead up to and in the summer, anyway.

I've had this in my drafts since about October and held out posting it just to see if anything would change this. It didn't so this will be my last end of year awards at this time of the year. It'll drop earlier.

And it's my opinion anyway based on my observations and experiences.

So breakthrough artist has to go to Dexta Daps. December saw him pick up some real steam with "Do we actually know what he's talking about? I think so" club stayer '7 Eleven'. "So all when you have ten man, me haffi be eleven" to me is about not caring how many man a woman has slept with, he'll still go there.

I thought everyone thought that until the video disappointed loads of people. Apparently ,others thought it was about people spreading rumours about a girl and the singer not caring. Guessing that's based on the intro "Natalie say, he say, she say she gi'it weh (translation: gave it away)". In hindsight, that's a really good idea for a song - unfortunately, it wasn't for this one.

The most universally appreciated (and understood) song of his repertoire, is a classic male-female combination tune, 'Jealous Ova' with Tifa. 'Shabba Madda Pot' was a serious tune for the man dem.

 My favourite breakout song by far and away was 'Inna Real Life' by Vershon. I'm a sucker for songs representing the underclass. The sufferer. One of the main demographics in dancehall. It's set on a riddim that many dancehall purists (the '90s heads) hate. Thankfully, I'm not one of them so I can appreciate this. Reflective meds tune, good melody, real lyrics and the beat fits the vibe. Really good song to showcase his personality. 'Use To Hungry' was a solid song in the same lane by him.

Reality reggae song of the year isn't even a hard one - Kabaka Pyramid 'Well Done'. What isn't good about it? Lyrics, accurate statements, relatable, sarcastic yet direct delivery, bass line, good tempo, good rhythmic timing. "Strictly personal gain you pursuing. So the tax rate higher than the planes weh you flew in. You make a deal with the IMF now we nah've no bauxite nah no sugar cane left." Are. You. Nuts!?

Album of the year is Protoje's Ancient Future. Considering the amount of hype I had leading up to it, also the hype generated by press, these sorts of albums usually disappoint. Especially off the back of a huge single like last years "Who Knows" with Chronixx.

There isn't a bad song on there. 'Answer To Your Name' and 'Love Gone Cold' are probably my least favourite songs, but I don't skip them. On the flip, the songs I rate to the fullest are The Flame, Criminal and Stylin'. The Flame is probably my favourite. A lot of references to history, lyrically dense that keeps unfolding the more I listen and, not only the right amount of guests, the right guests.

"La di da di, nah join no party
Look what the politician dem do to Claudie.
Look what the politician dem do to Jim.
Him son resurrect it and look what dem do to him" - arguably the standout lyric.

Ancient Future will be one of my favourite albums (probably most played) of 2015 from any genre. And I've heard loads (big up Spotify). You can stream on Soundcloud below. And you can buy the ting on all digital outlets.

Dancehall riddim of the year is a tricky one for me. In the mix are Happy Hour, Fix Up, Wul Dem, Wul Dem Again, Life Support, After Party and Mildew, but my favourite is Liquor riddim. The riddim of the year is Happy Hour. How can it not be? There aren't many times you struggle to name your top three cuts cos there's another three making a good case for dance floor.

Personally, based on how I feel right now, Liquor riddim has the best instrumental and my favourite song right now. But Happy Hour is riddim of the year. Just isn't my favourite right now because I've heard it for so long. But it's the best riddim based on the amount of top pieces. Liquor riddim goes harder in clubs over in London though, much harder than Happy Hour. Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Tarrus Riley, Demarco, I-Octane etc. That's a soon to be classic riddim.

"Why isn't that a crossover hit single?" goes to Popcaan 'Junction'. One for the girls to feel admired and dance sexy to, the man dem relate to the subject, wicked melody (isn't it always with Popcaan?) and familiar riddim.

"What a day when your boyfriend find out
Him a fxck you and mi ah fxck you too."
The bit where he says:
"A nuh tek mi want tek you from your man. Love mi love your style... 
Ah you fi a fxck off di unruly boss.
Make up your mind just fi fulfil di task" = bend over girl, take the wine to a next dimension and buss a quick mental gun finger.

Popcaan gets artist of the year for me, you know. For someone who supposedly fell off a few years ago amidst the rise of Tommy Lee and Alkaline, he's dropped a lot of songs and been pretty consistent. Standout on Life Support ('Weed Is My Best Friend') and Mildew (see below) riddims, solid singles such as 'Where We Come From' (released in time for last summer but grew a lot within the past year) and 'Rup Rup (Bad Inaa Real Life)'.

Drake may have had everyone saying "Waaaaay up" but he got it from Popcaan.

Honourable mentions out to Vybz Kartel, Alkaline, Busy Signal and Mavado.

Best video is an easy one for me. Vybz Kartel 'Dancehall'. Does what it says on the tin. Captures the essence and spirit of Jamaican dancehall that everybody should experience at least one time in their lives. From the dancing squad, the gal dem, the selectors to the vendors and food outside. This is dancehall. Jamaica Tourist Board should pay YouTube ads using this video.

I reviewed my favourite concert earlier this year. Valentine's show headlined by Freddie McGregor with support from establishing artists Christopher Martin and Romain Virgo, never-quite-got-the-love-he-should-have Terry Linen and 80s dancehall veteran Johnny Osborne. You can read about it here.

Chronixx's show at Somerset House was a great occasion. Marcia Griffiths & Friends finally happened and what a show that was. Fellow i-Threes singer Judy Mowatt, one of Jamaica's greatest pens, Bob Andy, the great Tanya Stephens and ever elusive Richie Spice. Protoje's two shows were a joy. Those were my favourite shows. Of the ones I attended obviously.

Riddim I'd like to be bigger and feature more pieces is Cardinal Point by LMR Production

Mega Banton and Spragga Benz deal with it a way! Has a wicked bad man vibe Mega Banton drops but also fits for the reasoning Spragga lays on it.

The artists I'm looking out for next year are more from Vershon and Deep Jahi.

RIP J Capri. RIP Rico Rodriguez.

Stay tuned for the top 20 best songs and the world a bashment review. Soon land

As much as I'd love to give a female and producer of the year, I'd rather not this year. Maybe next year, but I've given these awards as they or or it'll feel like I'm just giving the award to whoever had a few alright stuff over a stand out.


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