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Dancehall takes root in Africa

Observer writer

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

THE rise of African reggae/dancehall artistes is a perfect example of the maxim that music is universal.

Africa is home to a multitude of artistes who fuse Afro-beat, rhythm and blues, reggae, and dancehall.

One of them is singer Ledo, who recently spoke about the passion for dancehall music in her native Nigeria.

“Dancehall brings out the fire in me. R&B is beautiful, it touches the heart, but the real me is dancehall. Dancehall music is about energy. If you do dancehall you must have the fire in you,” she said. “I officially made dancehall my career, and that has been the best decision ever, even though I still fuse a little R&B in my dancehall songs to make it interesting and versatile”.

Other Nigerian dancehall fusion artistes are YemiAlade, Cynthia Morgan, Tiwa Savage, Fefe and Seyi Shay. The most popular crossover artistes are Patoranking and Burna Boy.

Patoranking, who is known for songs like My Woman (with Busy Signal), is signed to VP Records. He is scheduled to perform at Reggae Sumfest next week.

Another dancehall artiste from the region making waves is Shatta Wale from Ghana, who has collaborated with Jah Vinci, Alkaline and Mavado. He was featured on the popular Overproof rhythm, produced by Patrick “Roach” Samuels.

Shauna Fung Yee, director of Down 2 Earth Productions, works with several artistes. She commented on why they are not well known in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

“They will have to do an aggressive marketing campaign to help develop their brand in Jamaica and the Caribbean; also singing in their native language is a barrier,” she said.

Afrobeat was popularised during the 1970s by acts like Fela Kuti, the flamboyant Nigerian singer/musician. He influenced other performers like Yousou N'Dour, Sunny Ade, MajekFashek and Baaba Maal.

They have either worked in Jamaica or with Jamaican artistes.

On the flip side, Jamaican artistes have been making a mark in Africa for over 40 years, the most noted being Bob Marley, who famously performed in Zimbabwe in 1979 to mark its independence.

Dancehall has taken hold in Africa in the last 15 years. The genre's major acts have performed throughout the continent.

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