2011 has been a crazy year for dancehall. Vybz Kartel started with massive hype releasing his first breakthrough crossover record with Dre Skull in June, and ended facing prosecution for multiple murder charges. Mavado’s year began with a string of hits, signing to one of the biggest American hip hop labels, but ended with the cancellation of his UK tour. Sean Paul released a massive cross-over pop hit and was all over the music channels and radio whilst Daniel Bedingfield, of all people, ventured to Jamaica and started going in (hard) over dancehall riddims. Kartel’s rise and fall saw his young protege Popcaan take the spotlight with a host of massive hits. 2011 also saw the rise of British artists Lea-Anna, Stylo G and Gappy Ranks, who appeared on Jools Holland’s prestigious Later… show earlier in the year, whilst Toddla T packed his new record with bashment artists and influences. On the live curcuit, London’s dancehall DJ collective The Heatwave had a fantastic year with shows across Europe and the explosion of Rolling in the Heat, their edit of the Adele hit that smashed clubs and festivals across all summer. Tragically, this year also saw the death of some greats within the genre; Joel Chinn, Fattis Burrell, Lil Joe and Smiley Culture all passing, whilst iconic artist Buju Banton faces up to ten years behind bars.
As regular readers will know, our focus goes well beyond the world of dancehall music. Whilst it remains our favourite stem of Caribbean music, we love reggae, dub, roots and everything in between, bringing you the freshest news and information on local shows and artists. We had some fantastic shows across the genres in 2011, with some of the biggest names from the UK and international scene coming to our fine city; Earl Gateshead, Toddla T, Congo Natty, Blak Twang, Roots Manuva, Submotion Orchestra, Wrongtom, David Rodigan, DJ Derek, Shepdog and Robbo Ranx were all put on by various Oxfordian promoters, whist Dawn Penn, Toots & The Maytals, Future Fambo, Mad Professor, Lee Scratch Perry came from oversees to grace us with their presence. Count Skylarkin’ continued to put on the best reggae nights in town, Natty Hi-Fi pushed their thing for all the right reasons, Bassmentality went strong with a host of shows, and we introduced our very own Lord ‘av Mercy night to the scene, starting on Sunday nights upstairs at the Port Mahon before moving to a regular Friday night slot in the Library. For all the previews and stories from the last year, check our Index page.
Going into 2012, expect more of the same: nothing but the best new music and news from the Caribbean, whilst firmly focused on what’s happening on our doorstep in Oxford. Thank you for all your support since our launch in February, long may it continue and grow.