Back to the 'Playground'
1997 was a banner year for dancehall beats
JEREMY Harding's Playground 'riddim' catapulted Beenie Man to international heights in 1997 with the big hit Who Am I (Zim Zimma).
The song made Billboard magazine's pop chart and opened new doors for the flamboyant deejay.
The Playground paved the way for a number of dancehall's emerging talent including Mr Vegas who scored his first hit with Nike Air (Hand Inna Di Air).
Other hit songs from the Playground included Pet and Pamper by Mad Cobra; Scream (Monster Shack); Strong Performer (Spragga Benz); Fade Away (Lexxus); and Infiltrate by Sean Paul.
But 1997 was not all about Harding. Top-flight producer Dave Kelly's Joyride was released in late-1996 but it was the following year that it took off.
Joyride scored number one singles in Yuh Nuh Ready fi Dis Yet by Tanya Stephens; Silent Violence (Beenie Man); Sycamore Tree (Lady Saw); and Wayne Wonder's Bashment Girl.
Rubbers (Frisco Kid); Funny Man (Baby Cham and Mr Easy); Fresh off the Block (Alley Cat); Hunting (Spragga Benz), and the title track by Wonder and Baby Cham were also chart-riders for Kelly's monster beat.
Kelly followed up that year with another dance monster called the Haunted. Though not as massive as the Joyride, the Haunted spawned Bounty Killer's number one hit, Worthless Boy.
The Haunted yielded hits like Many Many (Baby Cham); Woman We Name (Lady Saw); Bad Bull Inna Pen (Richie Stephens); Dolly House (Spragga Benz); and the Best by Wayne Wonder.
The Shocking Vibes label also had a good chart showing that year with the Cloak and Dagger and Odour riddims.
According to producer Tony 'CD' Kelly, who engineered both projects, "I never anticipate anything. I just put out the work and let it speak for itself."
Cloak and Dagger moved up local charts with Tanya Stephens' Goggle (a song Kelly confided was initially written for Lady Saw); Ghetto Girl by Little Kirk; Bashment Sitting, the first hit for Devonte; Oyster and Conch by Beenie Man; Gal (Silver Cat); and Hoist it Up (Lady Saw).
The Odour drove hits like Pure War by Beenie Man; Serious Tings (Power Man); Brain Food (Ghost); Dr Fish (Richie Stephens); and Me Alone done by General B.
Shocking Vibes updated the 1980s Punaany beat, releasing Beenie Man's Girls Dem Sugar and Romie, both of which topped the charts.
The company's memorable run in 1997 was rewarded with Producer of the Year recognition at several awards shows in 1998.
Sly and Robbie's Taxi label was also visible with the dancehall version of the Mission Impossible theme song.
Innocent Kru's Impossible Train and Beenie Man's Foundation were the chart-toppers from that project.