Rewind! Revisiting Reggae and Dancehall Classics
Updated: Jun 29
Repetition has always been an essential feature of the creative process in the Jamaican music scene. Remixing, dub, versioning, and covering are all features of this practice of iteration. Repetition is also expressed in tropes such as rewind, lick it back, pull-ups and forwards. These are signifiers of approval and respect for a particular song or artist’s performance on a specific recording or stage.
Covering a song is the ultimate sign of respect and indicates that a song is worthy of remaking due to its lyrics, melody, or beat. In recent times, we have seen several young artists redoing reggae classics. Here are some recent examples of revisiting reggae and dancehall classics;
‘Little Green Apple’ - Christopher Martin
The singer returns to the style that made him famous in this remake of this reggae classic. The song became a standard for the crowned Prince of Reggae Dennis Emmanuel Brown who adopted r&b singer O.C. Smith's hit song Little Green Apples which went to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968 and sold over one million records. O.C smith's version was a cover of the original country song by Roger Miller.
'Nice Up the Dance' - Kabaka Pyramid
This 1978 dancehall classic initially recorded by Michigan and Smiley gets a modern touch with new lyrics for the lyrically dextrous Kabaka Pyramid. 'Nice up the Dance' was a pioneering recording that heralded the beginning of the analogue dancehall period. It was a significant hit for the duo and also marked the practice of reusing rock steady and reggae riddims for the new genre.
'Strange' - Runkus
Runkus is the son of singjay Determine, so naturally, he grew up on the big hits of the 1990s. So it's no surprise that he remade Papa San's mega-hit 'Strange'.
Papa San was known for his versatility, and 'Strange' showed just that when the song came out in the 1990s.
Runkus adopted the style of pioneers such as U Roy and I Roy for this recording again showing respect for the veterans and their contribution to the music.
'You're Gonna Lose' - Naomi Cowan
'I Don't Know Why' – Rvssian ft Shenseea Sway Lee, Young Thug.
I Don't Know Why was initially recorded by the legendary singer Delroy Wilson and covered by the likes of Errol Dunkley and Wayne Wonder as 'Movie Star'. The song gets a one beat upgrade by famous hit-making producer Rvssian with help from Shenseea Sway Lee, Young Thug