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The Wildest and Weirdest Dancehall Moments of 2016

Mixpak's label manager The Large runs through a year's worth of highlights.
December 28, 2016, 11:55pm
Spice at Red Bull Culture Clash, courtesy of Mixpak Records

Mixpak Records had a ferocious year in 2016, releasing albums by underground stunners likes Palmistry and Jubilee, and snatching the crown at Red Bull's prestigious Culture Clash. Label manager Suze Webb, also known as The Large, was there every step of the way. In addition to her crucial behind-the-scenes role at Mixpak, she's one of New York's finest selectors and foremost experts on dancehall. Below, she offers her take on all the wild and wonderful music the genre had to offer this past year. In addition, you can check out a special Spotify playlist she made just for us below—nothing but heat, as usual.


2016 was without a doubt a great year for dancehall: crossover smashes, on-island street winners, compelling songs from young artists on the come-up, international co-signs, hilarious one-hit wonders, sex-positive slow jams and, as always, a can-you-keep-up quantity of singles from mainstay artists.

Songs about dancing often reign supreme in Jamaica, and this year was no exception: Konshens' "Bruk Off Mi Back" tied for the year's biggest hit, alongside Vybz Kartel's "Fever." With no signs of slowing down from behind bars, Kartel continued to deliver some of the most inventive lyrics ("Fever" has part of its chorus sung in a dialect called Jamaican Gypsy), melodies that could test any pop writer, interesting collabs and even released an impressive full album with longtime collaborator TJ Records.

His protege Popcaan stayed on the rise to international superstardom, with "Ova Dweet" coming in as one of the year's biggest songs, as well as cricket anthem "World Cup", "Wicked Man Ting", and the more downbeat "Nah Idle." Spice had a strong year, with hit singles "Indicator", "Sight & Wine" and "Siddung." And, of course, she told Wiz Khalifa to "eat [her] pum pum" live on the BBC at the Red Bull Culture Clash.

The biggest artist to emerge from Jamaica in the last few years, Alkaline, had his best year yet, with consistent hits, great videos, rabid fans, and a good "Formula." For years he has been referring to 2016 in his lyrics, perhaps as a preview of his New Level Unlocked album that dropped this year; whatever the case was, his prophecy came true—this year was a defining moment for him.


In the wider music world, the ripples from mainstream stars dabbling in the genre (think Kanye West, Jamie XX, Major Lazer) turned dancehall's dialogue with pop culture into a full-blown conversation this year. As Marvin Sparks details in his great piece for FACT, the Caribbean sound dominated the charts; from Sia to MIA, Drake to Tory Lanez, Fifth Harmony to PND, dancehall and dembow were the winning flavors.

Here's a list of some of the best things from this year, plus a deeper Spotify playlist of 2016 hits, including some soca and afropop.

1. Most Important Questions

Roast or fry?

Have you ever done it on the beach?

2. Best Songs About Teaching

Alkaline - "Extra Lesson"

Mavado - "Beat & Teach"

3. Best Throwback

Chris Martin - "Blackboard"

4. Best part of Vybz Kartel's "Fever" video

5. Most Uplifting

Linky First - Rock & Come In

Nesbeth - My Dream

6. Best Song that Takes Place on a Bus

Vybz Kartel - Half Way Tree

7. Best Lee "Scratch" Perry Dedications to Lindor Chocolate

8. Best Lee Perry Dedications to Other Things

Vybz Kartel

Alkaline food

Alkaline the artist

9. Best Life Advice

Popcorn - "Ova Dweet"

10. Best Song on the Toll Road Riddim About Cutting People Out

Alkaline - "Block & Delete"

Ishawna - "Private Mi Page"

11. Best Song About Cricket

Dwayne Bravo - "Champion"

Popcaan - "World Cup"

12. Best Busy Signal Cover 2016

"Everywhere (Fleetwood Mac)"

13. Top item from Vybz Kartel's Gaza Clothing Line

14. Top Things Popcaan Feels About Money

Popcaan - "Money Me a Study"

Popcaan - "Money Me Want"


15. Best Songs About Bumpas

Spice - "Indicator"

Shenseea feat. Vybz Kartel - "loodi"

Mavado - "Big Bumpa Gal"

16. Top Faces Elephant Man Made While Lifting Women

17. Best Synths

Vybz Kartel - "Who Trouble Dem"

Vybz Kartel - "Colouring this Life"

18. Wotless Prize 2016

Olatunji - "Oh Yay"

19. Best Money Lover Songs

Alkaline - "ATM"

Teetimus & Tanto Blacks - "Lifestyle rich"

Vybz Kartel - "Western Union"

Vybz Kartel - "Bet Mi Money"

20. Best Riddims (in no order)

Cure Pain (prod. Good Good)

47th Floor (Seanizzle)

Club Life (Leemilla)

The Champ (CR203)

Toll Road (Chimney)

Moskato (Birchill)

Wicked Wicked (Young Vibez)

Zen (UIM)

Crown Love (Head Concussion)

Pile Up (Yellow Moon)

All Inclusive (DJ Frass)

21. Best Dancehall Firefighting

Spice - "Sight & Wine"

22. Best Piano Intro Since "Hold Yuh"

Konshens - "Bruk off mi Back"

23. Best Catchphrase

Popcaan - "whaaaa"

24. Best Use of Pan Pipe Sounds

Popcaan - "Nah Idle"

R2bees & Wizkid - "More"

25. Best New Levels

Alkaline - New Level Unlocked LP

Popcaan - "New Level"

26. Best Artwork

27. Best Singalong

Salty - "Tic Toc"

28. Best video

Salty - "Tic Toc"

29. Best Song to Dedicate to Trump

Mavado - "Progress"

30. Best Dab

Mr Eazi & Eugy - "Dance For Me"

Mr Vegas - "Dancehall Dab"

31. Best Song to Cry to

Burna Boy - "Pree Me"

32. Best videos in which Alkaline wears a tan coat

"Champion Boy"


33. Most Iconic Popcaan dances