Murda She Wrote: This Month's Best Dancehall

There’s nothing better than Christmas in Jamaica—just ask Popcaan, Vybz Kartel, or Elephant Man.

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P&P Original

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murda she wrote dancehall

There’s nothing better than Christmas in Jamaica. Not just because the balmy Caribbean weather beats a polar vortex every time, but because Jamaicans love Christmas with a passion.

The parties start in early December and run all the way through the top of the new year. The uptown crowd flocks to all-inclusive fetes while free street dances and stage shows featuring all the best local artists pop up all over Kingston. Metal Christmas trees appear in every yard and all the rum bars and dancehall venues are decked with twinkling red and green “pepper lights.”

Between the tourists and the millions of Jamaicans living abroad who come home all at once, the locals always joke that they hope the island doesn’t sink. But the most festive thing of all is the music. Over the years, thousands of reggae Christmas tunes have flooded the internet, but here are Murda She Wrote’s picks for the hottest this year.

Popcaan - "Christmas Gift"

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“When I’m 50 I’ll be roaming still —like a Digicel phone,” Popcaan once told me, describing himself as someone who doesn’t necessarily plan to settle down. Just in case you didn’t catch his drift, his tune “Christmas Gift” makes it clear that the Unruly Boss has been very naughty—and after an amazing year making hits and traveling the world, the only item on his wish list comes wrapped in some silk panties.

Of course Christmas is a time for giving, and Popcaan says his special girl will “live a high life when she whine right.” Singing over a syncopated Not Nice production, Papi promises to “Jingle bell inna yuh belly.”

Tarrus Riley - "Crime Free Christmas"

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Tarrus Riley, known to friends and fans as “Singy Singy,” is one of a handful of Jamaican artists who can chat and sing at the highest level. Son of the late great reggae singer Jimmy Riley, Tarrus grew up around ace musicians and has gone on to merge the best of dancehall and roots reggae.

His only Christmas wish this year is simply to stay alive. We all know the holidays can be a stressful time. All those gifts to buy, plus year-end bills can really pressure your pockets. No wonder crime rates have been known to spike during this season. “Don’t let bloodshed bruk the vibes,” Tarrus sings over a festive dancehall beat.  “Can't take the sound dem of the .45.”

But it’s not all stress in his world: Tarrus is clearly planning to have his share of fun. After doing his part to counteract violence, he reveals one more heartfelt wish: “All I want for Christmas is a new brand ride. With a thick empress inside!”

Vybz Kartel - "Christmas Tongue"

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The Holidays can bring about many different emotions and feelings. It seems like this year Vybz Kartel is feeling horny. His song “Christmas Tongue” is not to be confused with love, tenderness, and sneaking a kiss under the mistletoe—on this particular tune the Gaza boss is dealing with straight-up sex. It starts out with the familiar pa-rappa-pam-pam melody from “Little Drummer Boy” and then things take a sudden left turn. Pass the egg nog.

Elephant Man - "Money Christmas"

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Nothing says Christmas like the sight of Di Energy God riding through the sky with a sleigh full of cash. At least that’s Elephant Man’s vision in the official video for his 2016 yuletide tune, “Money Christmas.”

Holiday balling is a time-honored tradition for Elly and all those chains and bottles of Hennessy and champagne don’t come for free. “Go tell Santa Claus fi bring a Brinks truck,” he sings. “Hustlers roll out, scammers dem a link up.” He doesn’t give a damn how you send the cash, whether Western Union or Paypal, just make sure it arrives on time.


First Name Music - "Road Show Riddim"

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All those holiday songs are well and good, but when the party turn up it’s time for serious hardcore selections. First Name Music, a label established by Troy McLean of Kingston’s Hitz FM, has proved that the dancehall never takes a holiday. His brand new "Road Show" riddim is built upon a hard-hitting high-energy instrumental that’s suitable for prime time rotation.

The lineup is no joke either. Charly Black bigs up the ladies whose “Pretty pretty body bring pretty pretty baby” (there’s also an X-rated version that’s much more, um, specific). On the subject of ladies, Iyara feels certain he can “get any gal." 

Vershon’s on the bad boy flex with “Style Mi” while Bugle’s “Unsure” comes up with a witty quotable: “Me no tambourine so we no shaky.” Dexta Daps delivers a melodic rapid-fire flow on “3G.” Surprise Grammy nominee Devin Di Dakta comes through with “Hey Na Na” while O.G. Grammy winner Beenie Man’s “Our Road” is a banger designed with street dances in mind courtesy of the King of the Dancehall. “Tell them it’s a year-to-year ting dis / Ah de king dis.” Nuff said.