TJL's Favourite Jamaican Songs of 2011

djThe year 2011 provided Jamaicans with many irritating distractions including a General Election, the Manatt Phelps Phillips enquiry and the JDIP scandal. Despite the pointless, self-defeating drama that is Jamaica’s politics, we were able to find entertainment and respite in a thriving music industry which churned out scores of fun, danceable tracks to take our minds off our problems.’s favourite songs for 2011 were:

One by One – Laza Morgan feat Mavado. Definitely the biggest single in Jamaica for 2011, this song combines a melodic hip-hop/dancehall beat produced by Julian Bunetta and Frank E with a memorable hook sung by Laza Morgan, son of reggae singer Denroy Morgan and brother to the Morgan Heritage clan. Mavado’s vocals are an extra treat and give the song just enough “grit” to give it street cred.

Overproof Riddim – Each year there’s always at least one riddim that dominates the music scene; a riddim so good that it can be enjoyed without vocals, or when vocals are added, can produce hits for numerous artistes. 2011’s biggest riddim, Overproof was a sparkling, synth-heavy production created by by Justus Arison and Patrick “Roach” Samuels and like 2010’s “One Day” riddim and riddims going back to Joyride, Pepperseed, Bug and Diwali, Overproof provided a slew of hits including Daniel Beddingfield’s “Sometimes you just know”, Beenie Man’s “Lets Go”, Khago’s monster hit “Tun up di ting”, Mavado’s “Settle down”, Supa Hype’s “Gone”, Wayne Marshall and Kurup’s – “Right Back”, Aidonia’s – “Caribbean Girls” and TJL’s favourite song on the riddim Tifa’s- “Dash Out”.

Ravin – Popcaan - TJL’s favourite song of the year was a catchy, fun-loving track on the Summer Time riddim which featured some of the most entertaining lyrics of the year sung in Popcaan’s trademark nasal twang: “Yaaaooow, up inna di club we gawn again!” TJL was in Trinidad earlier this year and Popcaan, a member of Vybz Kartel’s Portmore Empire, is huge in the twin island republic. Gaza wi seh!

Summer song – Vybz Kartel. Love him or hate him, the now imprisoned DJ is one of the greatest hitmakers dancehall music has ever seen and deserves a place alongside Buju, Shabba, Beenie and Bounti. (Yeah, that’s right, we said it.) This track, perfect for summer beach parties in Negril or out at Lime Key, is just further evidence of his ability to churn out hits at will. “Oh oh, hear we go, summertime is here you know!”

Good Ol Wife – Wayne Marshall. Wayne Marshall continued his resurgence with a number of hits this year, the biggest of which was “Good Ol Wife” (with back up vocals by real-life wife Tami Chynn) on 2011’s other huge riddim – Washroom Entertainment’s Matrimoney riddim. Marshall also put out hits like “Swaggin” with Tifa and Future Fambo, “Right Back” (feat. Kurup) and a remix to Laza Morgan’s “One by One” called “911”.

Summer Sun – Aidonia. One of the most underrated DJs around Aidonia combined killer lyrics with a sick flow for this braggadocious an’ boasy 2011 hit:

“Tek weh yuh gyal caw diddy ah d’ man
pon di RR bike me a dilly wid yuh gyal
the hottest ting in na di land
dem waan fi gi mi a medal”

Swaggin – Wayne Marshall, Fambo, Tifa. Swaggin, on another riddim produced by Washroom Entertainment, takes the prize for “Line Most Loved by the Public in 2011” - “I am swaggggiinnnnnnnn! Awwwwwwwwwww, too bad fuh yooou!” Please do take a moment to check out Tifa’s verse on this track. Straight shellings. Tifa tun up!

Nobody Canna Cross It – DJ Powa. The moral of this story is be careful what you say on tv. Previously unknown producer, DJ Powa took a few lines given in a televison interview by JPS employee Clifton Brown, cut them up, layered them over a beat and an internet sensation was born. The power of this track was remarkable; people everywhere including politicians, preachers, and businessmen were all using the catch-phrases “nobody canna cross it” and “the bus cannot swim”.

Cheaters Prayer – Chris Martin. For those of you who don’t know, this song is a musical “prayer” in which Martin asks the Lord to help him stop cheating on his woman and, in the event the Good Lord is not so inclined, to at least prevent him from getting caught.

“Oh Lawd, don’t let me cheat on my girlfriend
Cause as far I can see,
she loves only me
Oh Lawd, don’t let me cheat on my girlfriend
But if you cant stop me from cheating don’t let me get caught”

This song gets TJL’s vote for 2011’s “Song that Will Never Be as Big as it Could be”. Despite clever lyrics and Martin’s undeniably beautiful voice, this song will never be quite as popular as it could because no Jamaican man (who is also in his right mind)with a girlfriend or wife is going to go on Twitter or Facebook to big up a song about not getting caught. It just aint gonna happen.

Street Hustle – Specialist. Dancehall newcomer Specialist struck a chord with regular Jamaicans everywhere by deejaying about the inventive ways a street hustler finds to make a few dollars:

“Specialist a juggle phone cyaad, phone cyaad, phone cyaad
Banana, banana, banana chips
Cash fi gold, cash fi gold
Any piece ah gold, mi ah buy any piece ah gold”

Never Leave I – Tarrus Riley. For all the haters who insist that reggae is dead, TJL will only quote from Tarrus Riley’s “Never Leave I”:

“Inna mi going out and when mi forward een,
never leave I JahJah,
keep me far from vampires”

Honourable Mentions for 2011: “JPS” – Assassin; Chimney Records’ Steel strings riddim