Jamaican superstar Shaggy was asked to lean in on matters concerning the fate and future of dancehall music in a recent interview. The musician who has seen triumphant success in the 90’s and 2000’s as a Reggae and dancehall artiste like only few have, said the genre is in a position of crisis.
“If you look at a lot of dancehall artiste, they have more followers than they have streaming numbers, and that’s because they have become some what of a side show”, he said in a recent interview with The Voice Online on April 25.
Shaggy also highlighted the fact that dancehall music has the lowest streaming numbers of all other genres in its class. Compared to Reggaeton and Afrobeat, which are both the ‘birth child’ of dancehall as well as Hip-hop, which is the ‘birth child’ of Reggae and dancehall, the Jamaican genre has far less numbers.
He went on to state that international artistes such as Ed Sheeran, Rihanna, Drake and Justin Beiber for instance have all sampled and made huge success from 90’s style dancehall, simply check the streaming numbers.
New generation deejays have taken the ‘dance’ out of dancehall, he said, “It’s now singhall”. Describing today’s club scene as people standing around, drinking and smoking. They sing a couple lines from a song, wave their hands in the air and that’s it, they don’t even dance anymore. Shaggy doesn’t think this new-gen style resonates with mainstream audiences. “We need to kind of reinvent the wheel so to speak, because the formula is already there if you ask me”, he said.
When asked what younger artistes needed to be doing in order to push dancehall into the mainstream, Shaggy first outlined what he analyzed is the cause for the music getting there in recent times. This wasn’t just an issue with dancehall he said, it spans across the board with several other genres.
Its no secret the Internet has taken over the way music is reaching its audience. This Shaggy insists have tapered the impact dancehall music has around the world and ultimately has destroyed the culture.
Throwing an example of Afrobeat musicians, Shaggy says they live in Africa driving Ferraris and filling stadiums in their own countries.
“None of them are going to come over here (abroad) and do your voice interview for free. None of them are going to travel and do that kind of legwork to get on all the major talk shows and do what it takes to actually make the genre become a staple that is of the Super Bowl or anything like that”, he said.
He believes that the same goes for Jamaican deejays, “A local dancehall artiste can make a really good living without ever going to radio, without ever going mainstream because of the Internet”.
Shaggy may have certainly hit the nail on the head. The lost of the culture in dancehall seems to have been lost in the messengers themselves. Losing the drive and tenacity at the first phase of fame seems to be the reason why many Jamaican dancehall acts haven’t branched over to the mainstream – a crisis indeed.
The singer is expected to release a remake of his Diamond and Multi-Platinum certified Hot Shot album, ‘Hot Shot 2020’ in July 2020. Watch the interview below.