Shaggy says that the dance in dancehall is slowly disappearing as younger artists deviate from the original beat and riddim of the genre while newer sub-genres like Reggaeton and Afrobeat are growing faster and wider than traditional Jamaican dancehall.
Speaking on The Breakfast Club where he and Spice dropped in to promote their latest single, “Go Down Deh,” Shaggy said that artists who are dropping the old riddim are missing out on the potential of the genre as they are satisfied with small gains.
“the beat itself they’ve taken the dance out of dancehall. If you listen to the new dancehall now, the style they’re on is a kind of trap, kind of a fusion dancehall, so they’ve taken the dance out of dancehall,” he said. “You go to a dancehall party and people stand up and they’ll sing these songs rather than dance along and I think that the dance of dancehall is what was appealing to people,” the Boombastic singer said.
Shaggy says that new dancehall has remained stagnant because fans prefer the old dancehall, and the demands of fans streaming music shows what their preference is.
“If you look at the streaming numbers, the 90s dancehall is still streaming better than the new dancehall,” Shaggy laments. “I’m not knocking the new generation, I collaborate with these guys and I like a lot of them, and I think they are the future but I need to let them understand the market place.”
He added that a lot of money could be made, but short-sightedness is causing many to hang their bar low.
“What seems to happen sometimes is that they live in a bubble and for instance, we all can get into that bubble. So you’ll make a certain amount of money out of dancehall, doing a local club and collect a 25k here and you’ll buy some cars and what not, and I might be on another level because I sold diamond… but then I went with Sting and see that there’s another level.”
Shaggy says the level he’s talking about is the monetary compensation that defies expectations.
“I’m like ‘woah woah, music makes this kind of money? People do make this?’ and that opened my eyes. I learnt this late in my career, I’m like if only I had known this earlier,” he said.
According to Shaggy, his collaboration with now long-time friend Sting opened his mind to a different side of music. He added that he wanted younger artists to understand how rich the culture is and how much you can get from it.
Shaggy says the difference between music thirty years ago and today is the beat, but the constant evolution of the genre hasn’t been for the good of the music.
“The beat of dancehall, if you ask a DJ that’s on a global scale, what kind of dancehall would move a party, they’ll tell you 90s dancehall. The difference between current dancehall and 90s dancehall is the beat. So we’ve tried to fix something that wasn’t broken.”
The “it wasn’t me” singer also said that other sub-genres like Reggaeton and Afrobeat are enjoying enviable success because they stuck to the original formula.
“So Reggaeton which comes from dancehall, is a billion dollar industry/ genre, they’re still on that dancehall beat. The beat itself, the Reggaeton beat itself is called Dem Bow, it comes from Shabba Ranks‘ Dem Bow, they’re still on that and it’s a billion dollar genre. Afrobeat is a spin off in Africa. I used to go to Africa and play in the stadiums every year…most of African or what was played in Africa- their main music was dancehall so Afrobeat was inspired by dancehall, hip hop, whatever it is,” he said.
Meanwhile, Spice agreed that the behavior of younger artists for short-term gains is actually hurting the culture of dancehall.
“I don’t think they get it. I don’t think my colleagues in Jamaica and the dancehall genre get what he’s trying to say. So Imagine me being likkle likkle Spice, I’m not even on a Shaggy stage of career as of yet not to mention a Sting… there’s people in Jamaica who are not even on my level who feel like they’re the biggest thing and dem just have this ego that my song is hot in Jamaica so they don’t get to the level of where our music really can go and that’s what’s hurting our culture,” Spice said.
Shaggy also agreed that it hurts the streaming numbers of the genre.
He added that artists needed to step their game up.
Meanwhile, many producers agreed with Shaggy. Among them are CR203 Records producer ZJ Chrome and ZJ Rush, as well as Beenie Man, who co-signed Shaggy’s analysis of the music industry at present.
“A jus the truth,” Beenie Man posted
On the other hand, Spice, Shaggy, and Sean Paul‘s “Go Down Deh” continues to be one of the most streamed songs of the summer, racking up 14 million views on YouTube alone.
The song is on the traditional dancehall beat, which is infectious and incorporates Shaggy’s signature bassy lyrics along with Spice’s sexy interjections and Sean Paul’s energetic connective lyrics that takes the song on a high and low lyrical vibe that makes you really want to stay down and buss a wine!
As for the changes in dancehall music, “Go Down Deh” is expected to peak on the Billboard Hot 100 charts as the dancehall summer anthem, something that the artists would be proud of as they show that traditional dancehall music and lyrics are in demand and fans will support the genre.