Why Dancehall Music Is Not Dead

Dancehall is by far one of the most innovative, creative, and entertaining genres in the music industry. Arguably, most dancehall artists are more lyrically crafty than many other genres including hip hop. A music manager once told me rappers need to take a page out a dancehall deejay’s book.

Despite its saturation on the Jamaican airwaves, dancehall is still one of the most under rated genres globally. But that is beginning to change, since dancehall contents is breaking grounds in the mainstream.

Dancehall music is one of several genres that came under scrutiny in recent times over the same issue. Many of our own music veterans is of the view that dancehall music and culture is dying a slow and painful death, but is that true? Is dancehall music in decline or dead completely? I vote no. Let’s look at why dancehall music is far from dead.

Dancehall, like several other genres including hip hop, r&b and souls all experience a period of declining sales, which is mostly due to the global economic meltdown and the recession in the US which is the world’s biggest music market. The entire music industry was deeply affected leaving some recording companies closing there doors. So music on a whole is not immune to economic turmoil.

Every current artists across all genres experience week album and concert tickets sales, well with the exception of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. From big names like Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kanye West, 50 Cent and even our own Jimmy Cliff all got a taste of disappointing concert ticket sales and less than expected album sales. Rihanna reportedly had to cancel several shows across North America for her Last Girl On Earth tour in the summer.

This is a clear indication that it’s not just dancehall music that is in decline, and besides, no genre is immune to the economic crisis of the last two years. But now that the world economy is in recovery mode, all affected genres including our own dancehall are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. Album sales are trending upwards and concert tickets are showing signs of life, much thanks to Reggae Sumfest and the numerous Carnivals and Shows across North America and Europe.

In addition to being affected by economics, Dancehall is also at a pivotal stage in a transition into a more mainstream genre, similar to its counterpart hip hop. People don’t embrace change, but it’s through change why the Dancehall genre came into existence.

For a long time Dancehall was seen as Underground Reggae, and maybe it is, however, in recent times dancehall artists are beginning break into the mainstream of music, garnering much attention in major music markets such as North America, Japan and Europe. There is no question that pure Reggae is a popular genre Worldwide. But dancehall, a derivative of Reggae is beginning to make strides on the international stage.

Some folks speaks specifically to the lyrical content of dancehall and point it to the main reason why they believe the music is in decline. While we agree that the language could do with some toning down, we do not feel it is enough to use it as the corner stone of the decline. Dancehall music, as well as, hip hop has always had controversial lyrics. That is one aspect of the culture that define these two genres and distinguish them from others.

There are plenty more reasons why the Proclamations of dancehall’s death have flooded the airwaves in recent times. The issue may have reached its boiling point earlier this year when several dancehall artists got their US visas revoked. But let’s not come to premature judgments and call a funeral before the death. Dancehall music is not dead and is definitely not going anywhere anytime soon.

Written by staff writer. contact us here