Regardless of what soap he might be using, you can’t deny that Vybz Kartel is still one of the pioneering artists in dancehall. Not only is his style so slick but his lyrics are absolutely bang on, leaps and bounds ahead of some of his main competitors in the genre. The bleaching business will undoubtedly and justifiably have a negative impact on his chances for mainstream crossover success, and he understandably isn’t winning many friends within the black Jamaican community, but if you listen to his music and forget about the ‘cake soap’, he is simply a fantastic dancehall artist. After the jump we run you through some of our favourite Vybz Kartel songs from recent months, and discuss further the business of Music vs Controversiality…….
As we spoke about the negative impact the bleaching has had on his mainstream crossover appeal, you can’t help but praise his efforts in filling the gap between Jamaican dancehall and American hip-hop. Here he is going bar for bar with Eminem. Not an easy feat, but he holds his own comfortably. This remix is an absolute banger.
Badman Party (WTP remix)
A classic from last year, in which, if you ever doubted, Vybz Kartel reassures all dancehall followers that he is indeed the ‘hero’. In this cut his self-referencing is brilliant, footnoting previous songs, his controversial elements and the now infamous catchphrases, highlighting Kartel’s humorous/tongue-in-cheek element to his music, something that is widely overlooked.
His latest big cut addresses exactly how slick his lyricism is. All the best bits about Kartel are in this track; it needs no introduction really. Simply brilliant.
He also has a knack for the slower jam hits with magnificently catchy choruses. Again, self-referencing borders on advertising when he sings about Street Vybz Rum, his own brand of alcoholic beverage which unfortunately hasn’t found it’s way over to the UK yet.
Tun Up The Scheme
Continuing the slow-jam vibes, Vybz also tries his hand at the conscious reggae style. In this joint he addresses a number of issues effecting the people of Jamaica. Sure, it’s not quite Bob Marley, but it’s another side to Kartel that is widely overlooked. With these sure fire slow-jam hits up his sleeve, it once again adds to his overall musical portfolio.
Poor People Land
Kartel, being Kartel, doesn’t do himself many favours. After saying “forget about the bleaching, and listen to his music as music”, some songs (most notably Cake Soap) speak openly about his controversial off-field activity.
Look Pon We
These are just some of our favourite Vybz Kartel tracks from recent months, highlighting that, despite the controversial bleaching, his music, which is what we judge him on (as he’s a musician, after all) is still the best in the genre. 2011 could be a massive year for Vybz Kartel, and we hope that he can gain some mainstream crossover success. Clearly he’s got a few off-field issues that he must sort out, but as far as going into the studio and producing hits, we’ll always be looking to Kartel every time. We’ve shown above exactly what he can do and hope it continues.