Dancehall music is a descendant of roots reggae music. When people speak of dancehall music today, they are generally referring to the digital equivalent of raggamuffin reggae mixed with modern hip hop (which reggae influenced in previous decades).
Dancehall reggae tracks are usually based on a fast, danceable instrumental riddim (usually with a distinctly digital sound) track, with a deejay singing, rapping, or toasting over it.
Dancehall deejays are traditionally males who sing and rap with smokey masculine voices. Dancehall lyrics are infamous for their content, which are often violent, sexist, and homophobic. Dancehall deejay feuds are a popular aspect of the genre’s history, sometimes going beyond dueling lyrics to include real physical violence.
However, recent trends have reversed this tradition in 2 new ways: first, singjays such as Mavado have become increasingly popular, with voices and melodies that are more reminiscent of R&B crooners than hiphop rappers. Second, the dancehall lyrical content is continuing to grow, with female and conscious male deejays becoming increasingly popular on the dancehall scene.
Read more about the history of dancehall music, from it’s roots reggae beginnings to it’s electronic ragga forms and conscious dancehall today.
VP Records are the leading dancehall music label (and they often post content and special offers here on Dub & Reggae). As of this writing, Sean Paul, Elephant Man, and Buju Banton have all signed with VP Records. VP also works with popular record labels to build dancehall artists’ distribution internationally.