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The 100 best reggae songs of the 2010s

Top 100 songs of the decade. Again. I made the same journey in 2009 when Swedish music magazine Novell invited its readers to submit lists of their 100 best songs 2000–2009.

Another ten years have passed and it’s time again. This time I have been more prepared, but at the same time I’ve spent a lot more time. Maybe an unreasonable amount of time to create a list that shows the 100 best reggae songs of the decade, from my perspective. And that includes a lot of reggae. Or basically one hundred percent.

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But this is not a list based on my most played songs during this period. When I did the research, some songs simply did not measure up anymore. For different reasons.

Therefore, some songs have failed to make the list, while others have been added. Songs that I may not have played much, but in retrospect have turned out to be brilliant. Others have turned up in the research phase.

This is a list that shows how multi-faceted reggae is. Included are most subgenres – roots, dancehall, lovers rock, dub, rocksteady, dubstep and ska. The sounds are dramatic, loving, passionate, political, rebellious and spiritual.

Hit songs with many millions of listens rub shoulders with underground classics that may have only a few thousand spins. And the list brings together artists and producers from the Caribbean, the United States, Europe and Australia. However, the vast majority of artists are from Jamaica.

The one with the most songs is Chronixx, who debuted around 2012. He has nine songs on the list, three of which are in the top 20. Then comes Tarrus Riley, Randy Valentine and Protoje with five songs each.

The best year was 2013 with a full 18 tracks followed by 2015 and 2017/2010 who share third place. 2016, on the other hand, was a rather bleak year with only one song, Damian Marley’s dramatic Caution.

The list includes just over six hours of music. How many hours I spent creating the list I don’t even want to think about. But it’s been a fantastic musical journey where I’ve collected a total of about 400 songs, but where only 100 made it. And two did not make it because they were simply not on Spotify – Stephen Marley’s Rockstone and Ondubgrounds War.

So – just over six hours of music. Listen below – or click here – and enjoy!

And please note that list in the player is reversed for some reason. Ikaya’s Worth His Weight in Gold is at number 100 and Contradiction with Alborosie & Chronixx is at 99, and so forth.

Artist – track (year)
100. Ikaya – Worth His Weight In Gold (2015)
99. Alborosie & Chronixx – Contradiction (2018)
98. L’Entourloop & Patrice & Guts & Troy Berkley – Want It Back (2017)
97. Agent Sasco & Bounty Killer – Ghetto State of Mind (2011)
96. Ginjah – Baby Girl (What Love Means) (2014)
95. Busy Signal – Government Gone Luuu (2010)
94. Danakil & Ondubground & Jamalski – Tell Dem (2017)
93. Jah9 – Steamers A Bubble (2013)
92. Cornell Campbell & Burro Banton – Pressure (2014)
91. Romain Virgo – Taking You Home (2010)
90. Eesah – Tell No Lie (2017)
89. Kranium & Ty Dolla Sign – Nobody Has To Know (Major Lazer & KickRaux Remix) (2015)
88. Johnny Clarke & Fantan Mojah – Rebel With A Cause (2010)
87. Stylo G – Soundbwoy (2013)
86. Damian Marley – Caution (2016)
85. Busy Signal & Christopher Martin – Lock Di Endz (2014)
84. Conkarah – No Barbershop (2012)
83. Alpheus – From Creation (2013)
82. Samory I – Rasta Nuh Gangsta (2017)
81. Queen Ifrica – Times Like These (2011)
80. Randy Valentine – Victory (2013)
79. J Boog – Coldest Zone (2010)
78. Tarrus Riley – Don’t Come Back (2017)
77. Xavier Rudd & The United Nations – Come People (2015)
76. Jesse Royal – Preying On the Weak (2013)
75. Gentleman & Shaggy – Warn Dem (2014)
74. Jah Sun & Chronixx – Top Ranking (2013)
73. Monkey Marc & Capleton & Fantan Mojah & Sizzla – No Surrender (2017)
72. Randy Valentine – Be A Rebel (2013)
71. Sean Paul & Major Lazer – Tip Pon It (2018)
70. King Mas – Zombie Apocalypse (2015)
69. Claye – Shadow After Dark (2014)
68. Koffee – Burning (2018)
67. Cadenza & Stylo G & Busy Signal – Foundation (2015)
66. Popcaan & Agent Sasco & Konshens & Kranium – I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times (Dre Skull Remix) (2015)
65. Micah Shemaiah & TJ Likkle Briggie & Infinite & Hempress Sativa & Jahkime – Dread At the Control (2015)
64. Spice – Jim Screechie (2011)
63. Beenie Man – Survivor (2014)
62. Brinsley Forde – Sodom and Gomorrah (2013)
61. Kabaka Pyramid – Well Done (2015)
60. Tara Harrison – PSA (2018)
59. Ras Demo – Sekkle Up the Score (2015)
58. Wiley & Stefflon Don & Sean Paul & Idris Elba – Boasty (2019)
57. Protoje & Chronixx – Who Knows (2014)
56. Spice – So Mi Like (2014)
55. Tarrus Riley – Gimme Likkle One Drop (2012)
54. Protoje – Kingston Be Wise (2012)
53. Jesse Royal & Jo Mersa Marley – Generation (2017)
52. Hollie Cook – Angel Fire (2017)
51. Tifa – Rock My Body (2015)
50. Tarrus Riley – We Run It (2012)
49. Lukie D – Share Him (2010)
48. Major Lazer & MO & DJ Snake – Lean On (2015)
47. Shenseea & Shatta Wale – The Way I Move (2018)
46. Runkus – Run (2015)
45. Chino – Larger Than Life (2013)
44. Chris Martin – Paper Loving (2010)
43. General Degree – Feeling Irie (2015)
42. Jimmy Riley & Fantan Mojah – Tell Me Your Name (2010)
41. Randy Valentine – Break the Chain (2014)
40. Major Lazer & Tove Lo – Blow That Smoke (2018)
39. Jah Sun – Every Day of The Week (2013)
38. Machel Montano – Go Down (2012)
37. Konshens & Romain Virgo – We No Worry Bout Them (2013)
36. Protoje – JA (2011)
35. Snoop Lion & Miley Cyrus – Ashtreys & Heartbreaks (2013)
34. Chronixx – Capture Land (2014)
33. Chronixx & Kabaka Pyramid & Protoje & Sizzla – Selassie Souljahz (2013)
32. Jah Sun & Kabaka Pyramid – Foundation (2013)
31. Macka B – Never Played A 45 (2015)
30. Shenseea – Beat Me Congo (2019)
29. Wayne Marshall & Tessanne Chin & Ryan Mark – Glory To God (2018)
28. Mista Savona & Randy Valentine & Solis – Carnival (2017)
27. Sigala & Fuse ODG & Sean Paul – Feels Like Home (2018)
26. Stick Figure & Collie Buddz – Smokin’ Love (2014)
25. Kabaka Pyramid & Chronixx & Dre Island – Rough Road Remix (2013)
24. Chezidek – Walk With Jah (2010)
23. Captain Sinbad – Capital Offence (2012)
22. Vybz Kartel & Popcaan & Gaza Slim – Clarks (2010)
21. Terry Linen – How Do You Like My Music (2012)
20. Protoje & Don Corleon – Our Time Come (2010)
19. Estelle & Tarrus Riley – Love Like Ours (2017)
18. Stephen Marley & Damian Marley & Buju Banton – Jah Army (2011)
17. Angela Hunte – Outta My Head (2017)
16. Lt. Stitchie – War Path (2013)
15. Alaine – Hello (2015)
14. Chronixx – Majesty (2017)
13. Ninjaman – Ninja Mi Ninja (2013)
12. Mr. Vegas & Shaggy & Josey Wales – Sweet Jamaica (2011)
11. Skrillex & Damian Marley – Make It Bun Dem (2012)
10. Randy Valentine – Happiness Station (2017)
9. Major Lazer & Busy Signal & FS Green & The Flexican – Watch Out For This (2014)
8. Chronixx – Start A Fyah (2012)
7. Gyptian – Hold Yuh (2010)
6. Chronixx – Here Comes Trouble (2013)
5. Nas & Damian Marley – As We Enter (2010)
4. Spice – Black Hypocrisy (2018)
3. Tarrus Riley – Wildfire (2010)
2. Pressure & Spectacular & Cali P & Don Pako & Keefaz – In The Clash Tonight (2010)
1. Michie One & Loouchie Lou & Ding Dong & Bravo – Priceless (2017)

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Meaty rocksteady compilation spotlights Federal Records

unnamedFollowing two epic rocksteady compilations showcasing Derrick Harriott comes a set spotlighting a somewhat lesser known producer – Ken Khouri and his Federal Records.

Ken Khouri was a talented entrepreneur and started in the music business in the mid-50s. He opened the first record manufacturing plant in Jamaica and his studio helped to create ska, rocksteady and reggae.

Ken Khouri is not as well-known as some of his peers – including Coxsone Dodd and Duke Reid – but his output was superb as showcased on Merritone Rock Steady 1: Shanty Town Curfew 1966-1967, a set collecting a hefty 21 tracks ranging from frenzied ska to the softer rocksteady.

It features a selection of vocal cuts and instrumentals and some are probably well-known, but most are – at least to this writer – new. And as usual with Japan’s Dub Store Records the audio quality is superb and most of the tracks are sourced from their master tape.

Highlights include two scorching cuts from The Tartans – Dance All Night and What Can I Do. The tracks are quite similar with a frenetic piano setting the tone. When this quartet split up three of the singers – Prince Lincoln Thompson, Cedric Myton and Devon Russell – would pursue international careers as both solo artists and as part of The Royal Rasses and The Congos.

The extensive liner notes feature extracts from extensive interviews with Paul Khouri whose knowledgeable recollections of working with Federal Records, not only as a producer but as an engineer and musician, are enlightening and educational.

The second volume of this superb compilation is released on October 28.

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Vintage sounds on Horus Records’ first album

various-lo-fi-showcase-part-3-horus-records-lp-66882-pekm439x439ekmThe seventh release from London’s Horus Records is their debut album. It’s both self-produced and self-recorded at their own Arch studio in Tottenham and features several veteran singers, including Vivian Jones, David Jahson and Winston Reedy, formerly of The Cimarons.

It’s an excellent vintage-sounding showcase with five vocal versions and four dub cuts. It’s organic and sweetly skanking. Just check Shaka Black’s uplifting Pick Myself Up and its sparse version Four Quebec Lima Dub. Killer stuff.

Best of the bunch is however Nichola Richards jazzy Going Back Where I Belong with its slick organ and melancholic horns. Unfortunately, that particular song doesn’t come with a dub counterpart. But that might be arranged on coming singles. Let’s hope so.

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Old and new on Parly B’s This is Digital

unnamedUK MC Parly B first grabbed the mic on the 90s as part of the local jungle scene and it wasn’t until quite recently he burst into the dub, reggae and dancehall scene. He has recorded a number of tough tunes and several of them are now collected on This is Digital, an eight track set released via Mungo’s Hi Fi’s Scotch Bonnet label.

Two of the cuts are brand new, while six are previously put out different labels and for different producers. The audio landscape is dark and grim with dry melodies and bass lines echoing over oceans. And it suits Parly B’s authoritative vocal style very well.

The title track is an homage to King Tubby’s Firehouse label and was originally cut for Top Cat’s Herbalist and was latest heard on YT’s No Wata Down Ting. The brand new Duppy is produced by Greece’s Fleck and borrows the 19th century Russian folk song Korobeiniki widely known as the being the Tetris theme song.

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Good prevails on Alpheus new album

disc-3153-alpheus-good-prevailsUK-based singer Alpheus teamed up with renowned Spanish producer Roberto Sánchez about four years ago and in 2011 the acclaimed album From Creation was released. It was a step in a new and different direction for both Alpheus and Roberto Sánchez.

From Creation was not the usual European one drop or hard Channel One roots reggae. It was something completely different – soulful rocksteady and swinging ska.

Now this duo has a new album – Good Prevails. It collects 14 tracks, of which two are melodica instrumentals. It also offers a mix of fresh originals and re-vitalized versions of riddims created by Coxsone Dodd, Phil Pratt and Winston Riley.

Good Prevails hits the streets on LP and CD on April 28. If you can’t wait to hear how it sounds, check Our Strength taken from the album.

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Rod Anton shines with the Congos on Reasonin’

On his debut album Reasonin’ Portuguese/French singer Rod Anton has received some guiding light from no other than the legendary Congos, a trio that with last year’s We Nah Give Up proved that they’re still in great shape.

On Reasonin’ they supply both backing and lead vocals, and I guess it’s no coincidence that they collaborate with Rod Anton – his voice is very similar to Cedric Myton’s distinct falsetto.

The album was recorded in France, Jamaica and the U.S. and the warm, solid backing is provided by The Ligerians and echoes of 70’s Jamaica. Rod Anton sings in English as well as his native Portuguese and has apart from the Congos also invited Max Romeo and Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite to share microphone duties with him.

Max Romeo’s emotional, rugged voice contrasts nicely with Rod Anton. He turns up on Mr. Richman, with a lead guitar that sounds like a stoned Dick Dale, and the excellent Holy City, with a sublime clavinet solo and a skanking rock solid bass line.

Reasonin’ collects 14 tunes of, which three are interludes with a reasonin’ theme and two dub versions. Three of the vocal cuts are also extended.

Rod Anton’s debut album was preceded by two strong EP’s – one in 2010 and one in February this year – and he has managed to excel once again. Reasonin’ is yet another example of the vital French roots reggae scene.

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