Shenseea represents a new era in dancehall, but that’s not necessarily a good thing
There’s something polarizing – some might even say triggering or at least off-putting – about Shenseea. Normally I would have called her Dancehall artist Shenseea. But I won’t because she recently announced that she no longer wanted to be labeled as such. She also shared her intention to follow in the footsteps of her childhood idol Rihanna and pursue pop music, her “first love.”
This is one of the problems critics have with her, many of whom are Jamaican themselves. Some claim she simply lacks talent, which I’d say she disproved during her flawless freestyle on Hot 97 Funk Flex in July 2021. But beyond her skills, many don’t think she has the hardcore edge and authenticity needed to truly dominate in Dancehall. Others believe she’s sold for frequently working with artists outside of reggae, including Christina Aguilera, Kanye West, Tyga and Megan Thee Stallion, who appeared on “Lick,” the lead single from her upcoming debut album. . ALPHA is slated for release on March 11. But most glaringly, if you will, his collaborations with Soca artists Bunji Garlin and Nailah Blackman – easily the fastest way to have your Dancehall card revoked in no time!
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Still, the argument I have the most trouble with is that she’s dumb or boasy because she’s “light skinned” or combination. Born Chinsea Lee in Kingston, Jamaica, the 25-year-old’s mother, a black woman, died suddenly in June 2020. Although she never met her father, she previously revealed that she was said he was a Korean gangster who traveled for work and left his mother at six months pregnant.
But before you start sympathizing or waving the flag for absent-dad issues, Shenseea certainly isn’t helping to deny her naysayers by taking to Instagram to tell her 5.2 million followers that’s why “some Americans don’t even fuck with the caribbean’ ‘Cause y’all act like bullshit and that’s just the fact some are dumb as shit She herself confessed speaking in an accent meant to make her more understandable to her fans Americans.
The truth is that Apple Music’s new name following is a product of and represents a new era of Dancehall music in which traditional tenons have radically deviated, including production, lyrical and thematic content, deejay and vocal style, down to the image of the performers. The influence of afrobeats, soca and hip-hop on the sound of modern dancehall is undeniable. In fact, the fusion between Dancehall and Trap music in particular has become so pervasive that it has even spawned the Traphall subgenre.
I rarely listen to contemporary Dancehall and when I do, there are times when my ears get really confused by what and who I hear. It usually sounds like a giant Dutch pot filled with vaguely familiar but mostly foreign accents, slang, flow and music without thyme, chilli or scotch bonnet chilli. In the end, good music is good music, so every once in a while I hear a song that connects the way any chune on the Showtime riddim or even the Dark Again still does. But charging is usually short-lived and sporadic.
It usually sounds like a giant Dutch pot filled with vaguely familiar but mostly foreign accents, slang, flow and music without thyme, chilli or scotch bonnet chilli.
Of course, it’s easy to see me as a “hater” or an old chef who needs to move with the times. But I am not only an avid fan and frequent consumer of Dancehall, I am also a champion and scholar of both the art form and the culture. Therefore, as a pure, I can’t help but notice how much new music makes me feelor not to feel, which is usually an organic, primordial, spiritual connection, which Boyd, one half of veteran reggae producer/DJ duo, Alric & Boyd, described as the ability of drums and deep bass lines to “really work in soul yah!”
On Wednesday February 23, the couple took part in The Influence of Jamaican Music on Black American Musica Black History / Reggae Month panel discussion alongside host Debbie Bission and Magazine Billboard‘s Patricia Meschino who specializes in writing about Caribbean music and culture.
Alric & Boyd have developed other defining elements of Reggae that make it so unique such as lyrics, relatability, militancy, spirituality and humanity, also touching on its origin, which stems from an amalgamation of various musical influences. , including R&B, Rock ‘N’ Roll, and Mento. This sparked an insightful back-and-forth between attendees over the interconnectedness between Reggae, Dancehall and Hip-Hop leading to the age-old debate – which came first, the chicken or the egg?
A discussion of gender swaps and crossovers naturally put Shenseea on the spot. Meschino has expressed concern over the “Pure Souls” artist’s decision to drop his “Jamaicaness” and rebrand himself as a pop actor. The writer accused her of “reducing” her musical identity, questioned her “authenticity” and suggested outsiders were pressuring her to change to appease the masses.
“The main thing is to stay true to who you are. Be authentic,” Meschino pleaded, concluding, “Her Jamaican is what’s special about her.
To be fair, Shenseea makes it clear that despite starting her career as a Dancehall artist, her plan has always been to cross paths. “I never aspired to be a Dancehall Queen in my life! Never! Because I’m not just gonna do Dancehall,” she said vehemently.
Therein lies the root of the problem and paradoxically also the solution, not only for Shenseea but for many new Dancehall artists and producers. Their hearts aren’t really invested or connected to Dancehall, which is why the music doesn’t quite resonate with some hardcore fans. Instead of looking within and creating the real thing, they are desperately trying to emulate the same international music that ironically comes from and is inspired by the same music that they are no longer interested in making.
“It’s a conundrum because I’d like it to stay organic,” Boyd remarked of the genre’s shifting landscape.
“Right now, the Dancehall that we’re producing right now,” he continued before hesitating to make a highly controversial statement, though many, including me, agree with, “I want it. say… This is the worst it’s ever been That’s all I can say is the worst it’s ever been because they’re not inspired by our home culture .
Watch the full panel discussion, The Influence of Jamaican Music on Black American Musicbelow.
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